Filipinos have grown up understanding that the niyog, or coconut, is the country’s “Tree of Life,” what with all the benefits and nutrition it gives us.
Even to this day, children have a hard time categorizing niyog. Is it a fruit, seed, or nut? The funny thing is that the niyog can be all three. But to be accurate, it is a drupe. This drupe has a green outer covering (exocarp) and a brown inner covering which is often referred to as the “husk” or mesocarp. The last layer, which is the endocarp, is white and is often considered the “meat” since it is edible. The inside of the niyog is also filled with drinkable coconut water.
You might be confused as to what a niyog is and how is it different from “buko.” The truth is they are the same, but the difference lies in their ages. Buko refers to younger, green coconut, while niyog is the mature, brown fruit. The meat of buko is often thin (making it a little transparent) and very soft. Niyog’s meat, on the other hand, is firmer and thicker, which can be used to make coconut milk and cream.
The following are the scientifically-backed benefits of niyog for our health:
It is nutritious
Niyog contains a lot of things that our body needs. If you consume, let’s say, 100 grams or 1 cup of matured coconut meat, you will be getting 7.5 grams of protein, 18 grams of fiber, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 65 grams of fat – all the macros are present. In total, you will be receiving 650 calories. Additionally, niyog also has manganese, selenium, magnesium, and copper.
It is possibly a good anti-obesity agent
A study concluded that MCT or medium-chain triglyceride oil (which is derived from coconut) can be used as an anti-obesity agent, alone or along with other supplements such as prebiotics. Since obesity is one of the main reasons for heart conditions, it’s safe to say that coconuts can also promote heart health, especially with some studies showing that it can affect the cholesterol level.
It can help in managing diabetes
Coconut encourages our body to produce more insulin, the hormone that allows our cells to use sugar as energy. Additionally, it also promotes the use of sugar within the cells, making sure that the glucose doesn’t stay in the blood.
It boosts the immune system and promotes overall health
Did you know that niyog has high antioxidant content? Additionally, it also has antimicrobial properties that help us fight pathogens that may cause illnesses. For instance, if you are suffering from acute infections, like Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), you are advised to drink coconut water. Because of its antimicrobial and moisturizing properties, coconut is also used on the skin.
It keeps you hydrated
The reason why many people call coconut “The Tree of Life” is because almost everything from the tree is useful. But the most significant miracle is it can sustain life by making sure you don’t get hungry and your thirst is quenched. Coconut water is filled with electrolytes, so if you are feeling drained after strenuous activity, drinking coconut water will do the trick.
Precautions & Warnings
Before using niyog, please take note of the following:
What should I know before using Niyog?
Generally, when taken as food, niyog is safe for intake. However there are not enough studies to ascertain whether taking too much coconut is safe, so to be sure, consume it in moderation.
If you want to use coconut as a medicine, you must talk to your physician first, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. The same is true if you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. If you have known allergies to coconut oil and palm pollen, it’s not advisable to use niyog.
Side Effects & Interactions
There are very few known side effects and interactions when it comes to using coconut. However, you must be careful if you have problems with your cholesterol and are currently taking medications for it. This is because it may further increase your cholesterol level.
One of the advantages of coconut is it can be incorporated into your diet and regimen in a lot of ways. In the market, you will see bottles of virgin coconut oil that you can drink on its own to promote health. If the taste is too much for you, you can always mix coconut oil with your food or drinks.
Another thing: coconut oil can be applied to your skin if you want to treat certain skin conditions, like wounds and eczema. It is also a mainstay ingredient in some of the most common DIY skincare products like lotion and deodorant. Others also gargle with coconut oil because it promotes dental health.
However, the most inexpensive and convenient way of using niyog is to eat its meat and drink its water. You can easily do so by finding a local vendor. Also, you can use the meat to prepare meals, like lumpiang ubod. The gata (coconut milk) can be used in various viands and desserts.
All in all, coconut or niyog is truly one of our country’s gems. Not only is the tree useful on its own, but the coconut drupe offers a variety of health benefits.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.