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July 10, 2008

Coconutty

We spent a few months in Cambodia living with my brother-in-law. We thought we had an arrangement with the coconut seller to bring his wares past our place every three days, but in truth he came whenever he felt like it, sometimes daily, then not for a week! And for all my months of effort, I could never pronounce the Khmer word for coconut "dong", even when I was pointing at one they still couldn't work out what I was asking for!

I was extremely thin at the time, and attribute most of my healthy and much-needed weight gain to drinking coconut water daily.

Qualities of coconut

Coconut is cool, oily and sweet, it is very high in water (and more nutritious than water itself!) This water is in a very pure form, having been distilled through the root system of the tree, and is full of prana. Coconut is a very nourishing and life supporting food, and in Cambodia they talk of a man who lived for a year on coconut water alone. Coconut is sattvic. Best for Pitta and very good for Vata when care is taken to strengthen agni simultaneously.

Coconut flesh, or meat, is hard and heavy, a bit more difficult to digest than the water. The older the coconut, the rougher the flesh.

Coconut water is what spills out when you crack open a coconut, it's transparent, not milky. Only drink the water from fresh young green coconuts, by the time they are brown the water is no good. Coconut water is liquid and smooth. Drink it at room temperature, not too cold, and be careful not to overdose. It may extinguish agni altogether.

Coconut milk is what you get when you soak or boil the grated flesh in water, and then strain it, kind of like making tea. You can make it with dessicated, but fresh is best of course. Canned coconut milk is of a dubious nature, but I love it and use it anyway!

Coconut oil is used in Ayurveda mostly externally, though it is good for cooking too. Oil applied to the head eases anxiety, insomnia and hair loss. It also helps with Pitta relieving thirst, rashes, burns and burning sensations.

Dessicated coconut is what most of us outside the tropical world have to settle for. The grated dried flesh is rough and should be taken it in smaller amounts or it will be heavy to digest. Drying food is a preferable way of preserving to freezing or canning.
It can be soaked prior to use.

7 comments:

SMN said...

Thats a very nice information on coconuts.

Sushama said...

hello Julia,
Icame across your blog through mahanandi. All your talk of ayurveda reminds me of my mom's and grandparent's talks. We have a long line of ayurvedic doctor's but I didn't pay special attention to them so far. But your blog renewed my interest in ayurveda and I realized I do some of the things without even realizing I'm following a way of life.

Thanks and I'm extremely pleased that I came across your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,
Coconut is thought to increase cholesterol levels , but most ayur food and indian food uses coconut in recipes.Do you agree that coconut is bad for health ?

Julia said...

Welcome and I am very pleased to meet you both.

Sushama, if you ever have any thoughts on the topics I write about please comment, as I feel I can learn a lot from people like you! I hope you enjoy embracing this rich tradition once again.

Julia said...

Cholesterol is an essential fat present in every animal cell. The human body can create cholesterol.

Based on ancient Ayurvedic science, some body types are more able to create essential fats than others, namely Kapha. Fat comprises earth and water, and therefore a Vata body cannot manufacture it's own fats as well as other body types.

If the body is deficient in earth and water it is crucial to get more good fats from the diet. Cholesterol is essential to health, but in excess it can cause illness.

Coconut is a traditional food source in many communities, tried and tested over thousands of years. I am much more concerned about fats that humans have interfered with in modern times, such as hydrogenated, homogonised or genetically modified fats.

Aimée said...

Very interesting post, thanks!
Now I must get my hands on a fresh coconut or two!

Anonymous said...

Sweet post.
I love coconut water.I remember drinking loads of coconut water from young coconut when I got chicken pox. Flesh from young coconut is so sweet. I just love it.
-Swapna