Friday, February 6, 2009
The English name coconut, first mentioned in English print in 1555, comes from Spanish and Portugese word coco, which means "monkey face." Spanish and Portugese explorers found a resemblance to a monkey's face in the three round indented markings or "eyes" found at the base of the coconut. On the Nicobar Islands of the Indian Ocean, whole coconuts were used as currency for the purchace of goods until the early part of the twentieth century.
Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm, botanically known as cocos nucifera, with nucifera meaning "nut-bearing." The fruit-bearing palms are native to Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, and are now also prolific in South America, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Florida. The light, fibrous husk allowed it to easily drift on the oceans to other areas to propagate. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning "tree which gives all that is necessary for living," since nearly all parts of the tree can be used in some manner or another. The coconut itself has many food uses, including milk, meat, sugar and oil as well as functioning as its own dish and cup. The husk was also burned for fuel by natives, but today a seed fibre called coir is taken from the husk and used to make brushes, mats, fishnets, and rope. A very potent fermented toddy or drink is also made from the coconut palm's sap. Coconut oil, a saturated fat made from dried coconut meat, is used for commercial frying and in candies and margarines, as well as in non-edible products such as soaps and cosmetics.
Although it takes up to a year for coconuts to mature, the trees bloom up to thirteen times a year, so fruit is constantly forming yielding a continuous harvest year-round. An average harvest from one tree runs about 60 coconuts, with some trees yielding three times that amount. The coconut's name is a bit of a misnomer, since it is botanically classified as a drupe and not a nut. It is the largest seed known.
If you've ever opened a fresh coconut, you will have seen the thin, opaque almost clear coconut juice or water which has a slight almond flavor. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the coconut milk. However, the water is consumed as a drink fresh from the coconut by many, and it can also be used in recipes.
Here is some information about Coconut Water:
"It's a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It's the fluid of life, so to speak." In fact, during the Pacific War of 1941-45, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water - siphoned directly from the nut - to give emergency plasma trasfusions to wounded soldiers.
Most coconut water is still consumed fresh in tropical coastal areas - once exposed to air, the liquid rapidly loses most of its organoleptic and nutritional characteristics, and begins to ferment.
Coconut Water is More Nutritious than whole milk - Less fat and NO cholesterol!
Coconut Water is More Healthy than Orange Juice - Much lower calories
Coconut Water is Better than processed baby milk- It contains lauric acid, which is present in human mother's milk
Coconut water is naturally sterile -- Water permeates though the filtering husk!
Coconut water is a universal donor-- Its identical to human blook plasma
Coconut Water is a Natural Isotonic Beverage - The same level we have in our blood.
Coconut water has saved lives in 3rd world countries thru Coconut IV.
"Coconut water is the very stuff of Nature, biologically Pure, full of Natural Sugars, Salts, and Vitamins to ward off fatigue... and is the next wave of energy drinks BUT natural!", according to Mortin Satin, Chielf of the United Nation's Food & Agriculture Organization.
Coconut water contains more potassium (at about 294 mg) than most sports drinks (117 mg) and most energy drinks.
Coconut water has less sodium (25mg) where sports drinks have around 41mg and energy drinks have about 200 mg!
Coconut water has 5mg of Natural Sugars where sports and energy drinks range from 10-25mg of Altered Sugars.
Coconut water is very high in Chloride at 118mg, compared to sports drinks at about 39mg.
Data is based on a 100ml drink.
By: Tom Hodge
Does stress affect eating, weight, and where fat is distributed on the body? This is a question that has begged an answer from experts for many years. The body makes cortisol to help us handle stress. When stress goes up, cortisol levels go up. And it's often repeated that obese people have higher cortisol levels than lean people.
Cortisol is a hormone in a group of steroids commonly referred to as glucocorticoids. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland as a part of your daily hormonal cycle. However, it is also a key hormone involved in the body’s response to stress, both physical and emotional. Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, increases blood pressure, and suppresses the immune system, which is part of the body’s fight-or-flight response that is essential for survival. Your hypothalamus, via the pituitary gland, directs the adrenal glands to secrete both cortisol and adrenaline.
Adrenaline production increases your alertness and energy level, also increasing your metabolism by helping fat cells to release energy. Cortisol has widespread actions which help restore homeostasis after stress, including increasing production of glucose from protein to quickly increase the body’s energy during stressful times.
However, cortisol has a two-fold effect on fat. When the stress first occurs, fat is broken down to supply the body with a rapid source of energy. When we experience something stressful, our brains release a substance known as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which puts the body on alert and sends it into "fight or flight" mode. As the body gears up for battle, the pupils dilate, thinking improves, and the lungs take in more oxygen. But something else happens as well: Our appetite is suppressed, and the digestive system shuts off temporarily. CRH also triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which help mobilize carbohydrate and fat for quick energy. When the immediate stress is over, the adrenaline dissipates, but the cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. And one of the ways it gets things back to normal is to increase our appetites so we can replace the carbohydrate and fat we should have burned while fleeing or fighting.
"But when was the last time you responded to stress with such physicality?" asks Dr. Pamela Peeke asks, author of Fight Fat AfterForty and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Your body assumes you have just physically exerted yourself, for example running from a lion, and need to restock your reserves by eating a lot of carbohydrates or fatty food that can easily be stored as fat. In reality, you are probably still sitting in your car or at your desk, still fuming and stressed out. Dr. Peek notes that, “In today's modern world, this elegant survival mechanism may be an anachronism that causes the body to refuel when it doesn't need to. Sustained stress keeps up cortisol, that cursed hunger promoter, elevated and that keeps appetite up, too.”
This is where the potential second effect of cortisol comes into play. Experts now believe that the problem for many of us is being in a constant state of stress. Exposure to cortisol over the long term can lead to weight gain, as your appetite and insulin levels are continuously increased. If stress and cortisol levels stay high, so will insulin levels, says Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford University. Continual stress leads to a constant state of excess cortisol production, which stimulates glucose production. This excess glucose then typically is converted into fat, ending up as stored fat. According to Dr. Sapolsky, "The net effect of this will be increased fat deposition in a certain part of the body." Furthermore, according to the authors of the book The Cortisol Connection, stress and the resulting chronic overload of cortisol, make you feel tired and listless. So you overeat to renew your energy and comfort yourself, with the end result of accumulated extra inches around the middle.
It is generally suggested that stress-induced cortisol weight is usually gained around the waistline, because fat cells in that area are more sensitive to cortisol. The fat cells in your abdomen are richer in stress hormone receptors, are particularly sensitive to high insulin, and are very effective at storing energy – more so than fat cells you would find in other areas of the body. This is the most dangerous place to gain weight, as it can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Yale University compared women who stored fat primarily in their abdomens with women who stored it mostly in their hips. They found that the women with belly fat reported feeling more threatened by stressful tasks and having more stressful lives. They also produced higher levels of cortisol than the women with fat on their hips. And that, the authors reasoned, suggests that cortisol causes fat to be stored in the center of the body.
However, some researchers believe that cortisol’s connection to obesity may be more unsubstantiated than first thought and that cortisol levels may not be the sole, major factor involved in obesity and fat distribution. There are questions as to whether cortisol may rise prior to weight gain or if its increase is an impact of the weight itself.
One area of research involves mutations in a gene called the proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene, which may cause obesity but simultaneously decreases glucocorticoid levels. This research shows that cortisol alone may not be major culprit in weight gain, and suggests that glucocorticoids are merely part of a chain of hormonal and neuronal signals associated with obesity.
"The message has gotten across that glucocorticoids are involved in all obesity. And there is a lot of common talk about the role of stress in increasing glucocorticoids," says Malcolm Low, M.D., Ph.D., a senior scientist and associate director in the OHSU Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders. "It seems to make sense: There is a lot of stress today, and obesity is up. But when you look at the facts, it is not as clear." Low notes, “There are multiple controls in our body that regulate body weight and appetite. Glucocorticoids are clearly involved in control of body weight. But it is not the only hormone involved. There are multiple systems involved in the brain and outside the brain that regulate how much fat we are going to have and how much appetite. There is no simple answer to treating obesity."
Marci Gluck, Ph.D., of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and Columbia University, studies the complicated relationship between cortisol, stress, and weight gain. "Most scientists agree that it is not a simple one-to-one relationship between cortisol and weight gain," she says. "There are so many different peptides and hormones involved. Cortisol might not be the primary one."
Based on a review of literature addressing obesity and cortisol status, the two most integral lab parameters to assess systemic cortisol status and its relationship to obesity is measurement of daily cortisol production rate (CPR) and measurement of 24-hour mean plasma cortisol concentrations. Thus far, few studies have utilized these parameters for measurement of cortisol concentration in obesity, and of the studies that have been done using these parameters, none of these publications has reported elevated plasma cortisol concentrations in obese individuals.
However, recent reports have suggested that a state of elevated cortisol levels in fat tissue cells without elevated cortisol levels in the blood may exist in obesity. Yet, these findings are inconsistent. It is possible that high levels of cortisol within the cells, such as in fat cells, may play a causative role in obesity, but this possibility requires further investigation.
If we do accept that chronic stress and elevated cortisol may be factors in weight problems, what can you do if you want to reduce cortisol? First, focus on becoming stress resistant. One of the best things to reduce stress and improve insulin sensitivity, for example, is getting regular exercise, even a daily brisk walk. Exercise not only helps promote weight loss by burning calories, but is also beneficial because it helps neutralize stress and its effects, which in turn helps you keep weight off. Just a daily brisk walk can help to distract yourself from what is causing stress in your life, allowing your body time to move and awaken.
Second, practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Improving time management can also be essential to reducing stress in one’s hectic lifestyle. These activities or similar techniques, as well as getting adequate sleep, can help reduce your body’s physiological response to daily stressors.
Third, how a person perceives stressful situations is also important. One individual may feel major stress from a particular situation, whereas another person will handle it better by using the event as an opportunity to learn. Hence, stress makes life difficult, but our reaction to it is important as well.
By: Mark Sisson
You know the drill. You slept late, your son misplaced his lunchbox, the cat threw up in the flowers. You’re already 10 minutes late for work and there’s nary a minute to scarf down a breakfast, let alone one that a caveman would approve of!
Enter the protein bar – it’s individually packaged, it’s relatively affordable, and you can easily eat it in the car while you’re doing your hair in the rear view mirror and practicing your presentation for later this afternoon – in essence, it’s the ultimate grab-and-go food.
However, there is a downside. In many cases, these protein bars contain ingredients and chemicals that very few people – bar the odd organic chemist or real nutrition expert – can pronounce and still fewer would actually want to ingest.
The solution? It’s time to put your chef hat on, because the only way you’re going to find an energy bar that is Primal and palatable is if you do a little D.I.Y… (and trust us, it’s really not that hard!).
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup almond or sesame seed meal
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (check your local health food store)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
On a cookie sheet, toast nuts and shredded coconut until golden brown (you may need to shake the tray once or twice to make sure they cook evenly).
Once toasted, pour mixture into a food processor and pulse until nuts are chopped and the mixture becomes coarsely ground.
In a mixing bowl, melt coconut oil and almond butter (about 20 seconds). Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
Add vanilla extract, honey and sea salt. Mix thoroughly.
Fold in nut mixture and almond (or sesame seed) meal until mixed thoroughly.
Fold in blueberries/cranberries.
Press mixture into an 8 by 4 loaf pan.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
Cut “loaf” width wise. Should make 6 good-sized bars.
Enjoy! (or, if you don’t plan to eat immediately, you can store the bars in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a paper towel and plastic wrap.
Is any other food or drink reported to have as many health benefits as green tea? The Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. In her book Green Tea: The Natural Secret for a Healthier Life, Nadine Taylor states that green tea has been used as a medicine in China for at least 4,000 years.
Today, scientific research in both Asia and the west is providing hard evidence for the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.
To sum up, here are just a few medical conditions in which drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful:
high cholesterol levels
impaired immune function
What makes green tea so special?
The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.
Links are being made between the effects of drinking green tea and the "French Paradox." For years, researchers were puzzled by the fact that, despite consuming a diet rich in fat, the French have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans. The answer was found to lie in red wine, which contains resveratrol, a polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet. In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG is twice as powerful as resveratrol, which may explain why the rate of heart disease among Japanese men is quite low, even though approximately seventy-five percent are smokers.
Why don't other Chinese teas have similar health-giving properties? Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What sets green tea apart is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. In November, 1999, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.
Green tea can even help prevent tooth decay! Just as its bacteria-destroying abilities can help prevent food poisoning, it can also kill the bacteria that causes dental plaque. Meanwhile, skin preparations containing green tea - from deodorants to creams - are starting to appear on the market.
To date, the only negative side effect reported from drinking green tea is insomnia due to the fact that it contains caffeine. However, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee: there are approximately thirty to sixty mg. of caffeine in six - eight ounces of tea, compared to over one-hundred mg. in eight ounces of coffee.
Natural compounds in Coconut Oil help stimulate your metabolism, optimize your weight, decrease cravings, and support a healthy thyroid gland.
If you live in the United States, you have a 55% chance of being overweight.
And, by now, I'm sure you're aware that obesity affects your quality of life and is linked to many health concerns.
One of the best benefits of coconut oil lies in its ability to help stimulate your metabolism.
Back in the 1940s, farmers found out about this effect by accident when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock.
It didn't work!
Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry.
Now, I'm certainly not comparing you to a farm animal ...
However, many animal and human research studies have demonstrated that replacing LCFAs with MCFAs results in both decreased body weight and reduced fat deposition.
So, by changing the fats in your diet from the unsaturated long-chain fatty acids found in vegetable or seed oils to the MCFAs in coconut oil, along with following an exercise plan, you may find yourself gradually losing those unnecessary pounds.
The reasons are simple:
1. The long-chain fats nearly always go to fat storage, while the MCFAs are burned for energy.
2. Since coconut oil helps to stimulate your metabolism, you may burn more calories each day, helping to accelerate weight loss (and probably your activity & energy level)
Coconut oil has often been compared to carbohydrates in its ability to be "burned" for energy. However, since insulin is not involved in the process of digesting the MCFAs in coconut oil, you won't get those carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level. This is especially good news for those of you concerned about maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
In fact, the ability of MCFAs to be easily digested, to help stimulate the metabolism and be turned into energy has entered the sports arena. Several studies have now shown that MCFAs enhance physical or athletic performance.
Additionally, research has demonstrated that, due to its metabolic effect, coconut oil increases the activity of the thyroid. And you've probably heard that a sluggish thyroid is one reason why some people are unable to lose weight, no matter what they do.
Besides weight loss, there are other advantages to boosting your metabolic rate. The healing process accelerates. Cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall.