Coconut Trees are inherently associated with images of the tropics, and the fruit of the tree, the coconut, is one of the most commonly eaten foods in Singapore and Southeast Asia. I’m sure everyone reading this will have their own favorite type of coconut food, and no doubt you would like to know more about the nutritional values and beneficial effects these foods can provide.
Coconuts have been around for about 100,002,000 years and can be harvested all year round throughout South Asia and Polynesia. Over the years they have been used by people in many different ways and have been adapted into a wide variety of byproducts, including coconut juices, milks and oils. As well as as a food source, the coconut plant has been processed as detergents, wood materials and industrial products, proving itself to be a very useful aid to daily living. As a result, it has come to be known in some quarters as the ~Tree of Life.”
The main components and applications of coconuts.
The main component of a coconut is fat. The endosperm within a coconut is separated into two distinct types, a solid, milky-white ‘meat’ and a transparent, liquid ‘water’, which can be consumed as coconut juice due to its sweetness. In Singapore, at hawker centers and the like, it is common to see people drinking the juice directly from the coconut by means of a straw. Another popular way of consuming the juice is with a spoon, scooping it up with the soft, grated solid endosperm of unripened fruits. However, there is an element of luck involved in finding delicious tasting coconuts. In fully ripened coconuts, the endosperm has hardened and can no longer be eaten raw, but it can be grated and boiled with water and sugar, then strained through a cloth or something similar to produce coconut milk. Coconut milk packed in tins or paper cartons is readily available in supermarkets and can be used in the home for cooking and for making cakes and sweets. Additionally, as purified ‘coconut oil’ extracted from dried fruit does not, like olive oil, contain trans fatty acids, it has made a name for itself as being good for our health.
The nutritional values of coconuts, and their inherent benefits
The following nutritional values possessed by coconuts generate a number of beneficial effects for the body.
・Calcium:Discharges excess salt from the body, helps prevents high blood pressure. Effective in reducing puffiness and swelling.
・Magnesium:Aids the functioning of the adrenal cortex, relieves muscle fatigue. Also acts as an anti-stress hormone, promoting relaxation.
・Iron:Helps prevent anemia, highly beneficial to women.
Including folic acids, these work in tandem with iron to prevent anemia. They also have moisturization properties.
Works to aid bowel movements and expel cholesterol and wastes from the body. Also contributes to the prevention of arteriosclerosis and lifestyle-related illnesses.
Coconut oil – good for eating, drinking and applying!
Despite being aware of how good coconuts are for the body, there are most likely many people who simply can not tolerate the taste of coconut juice and milk, no matter what they try. For those people, coconut oil is highly recommended as an alternative.
Did you know that coconut oil, due to its high nutritional values that makes it good for the body, has actually been classified as a “functional food”? Compared to other oils, it is low in calories and rich in medium-chain fatty acids. As medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed rapidly and transformed into an efficient source of energy, they do not accumulate easily within the body. And as coconuts have properites that allow for easier expulsion of bodily wastes, they are also effective in relieving constipation. In a nutshell, because of its Vitamin E content and dietary effects that inhibit weight gain, coconut oil can also be expected to act as an anti-oxidant and to prevent skin oxidation due to its anti-aging effects.
As a result, a lot of models and celebrities regularly apply coconut oil as a means of skin care, while many others habitually drink the juice for the benefits it brings. On top of this, studies have shown that coconut oil encourages brain activity, and it is now claimed that the ketone bodies the oil contains have been found to be of benefit in combatting “Alzheimer’s Disease.” If you are going to use it properly, however, the key is to choose organic coconut oil. Why not try swapping your regular cooking oil for naturally derived coconut oil, or using it as part of your bedtime skincare regime?
Coconut-based foods unique to Singapore!
I’d like to introduce you to some of Singapore’s coconut foods. If you haven’t tried these yet, please make sure to do so if you get the opportunity.
A noodle dish made with a soup of coconut and spices. This is the epitome of coconut foods.
Kaya toast (Kaya jam)
This jam is made from a combination of coconut milk and egg yolk. Ya Kun Kaya toast is a famous type.
Bo Bo Cha Cha
This sweet dessert consists of tapioca and yams in coconut milk.
This typical Malaysian dish consists of fried chicken on a bed of rice cooked in coconut milk.
This delicacy is made by wrapping sweet, dried coconut (or peanuts and sugar) in rice flour.
It is often made and sold in the vicinity of supermarkets at shopping malls, etcetera.
As well as those listed above, there are many, many more delicious Singaporean foods that use coconut as an ingredient. If you ever find yourself in Singapore, please try to sample as many as possible. However, it goes without saying that you should never overeat or take anything in excess.
For those with allergies to certain foods, some dishes may pose a health risk. Before eating anything, it is recommended that the list of ingredients as displayed on the label is thoroughly examined.
「328 Katong Laksa」 (53 East Coast Road)
With a main store at East Coast Road in Katong, this laksa selling food chain now has 5 branches spread throughout Singapore. The shop, where “Katong Laksa” can be eaten, is one of Singapore’s most famous laksa outlets. This dish of rice flour noodles and moderate spices mixed with a thick, coconut milk soup has a very addictive flavor.