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Plants as Food

Coconut water.

The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. Coconuts' versatility is sometimes noted in its naming. In Sanskrit it is kalpa vriksha ("the tree which provides all the necessities of life"). In Malay language, it is pokok seribu guna ("the tree of a thousand uses"). In the Philippines, the coconut is commonly the "Tree of Life".

Botanically the coconut fruit is a drupe, not a true nut.Although coconut meat contains less fat than many oilseeds and nuts such as almonds, it is noted for its high amount of medium-chain saturated fat.  About 90% of the fat found in coconut meat is saturated, a proportion exceeding that of foods such as butter.  Like most nut meats, coconut meat contains less sugar and more protein than popular fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges. It is relatively high in minerals such as iron, phosphorus and zinc.
Coconut water is the clear liquid inside the unripe coconut fruit. As the coconut matures and ripens, this liquid solidifies an becomes part of the sweet, white coconut flesh that we eat raw as a snack or use, often grated, in cooking and baking. Coconut water should not be confused with coconut milk, prepared from coconut flesh.
From a nutritional perspective, coconut water is high in naturally occurring electrolytes, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals are slightly alkaline, which support the body’s proper pH balance and subsequent optimal metabolic function.
The typical modern diet is high in processed foods and refined grains, which can make the body more acidic and disrupt biochemical balance. By replenishing the body’s alkaline mineral reserve, coconut water helps to restore a healthy pH balance, strengthening the immune system and support overall metabolism. In addition, coconut water contains small amounts of B-complex vitamins, in particular folate, along with several other micronutrients and phytochemicals in a highly bioavailable form.
Coconut water's natural sterility and electrolyte-restoring properties earned it the nickname "fluid of life." During World War II, both sides of the war in the South Pacific used coconut water as a safe substitute for intravenous plasma because coconut water has the same electrolyte balance as blood. It is still used this way in some parts of the world.

Cocoa. As Easter fast approaches, the excuse to consume chocolate and Easter eggs increases. While lots of chocolate is never good for anybody, eating some, especially dark chocolate, can actually be healthy. Chocolate contains coca which comes from the cocoa plant. Chocolate and cocoa contain a high level of antioxidants, specifically epicatechin, which is believed to benefit cardiovascular health. It should be noted that this refers to raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, as unfortunately these antioxidants degrade during cooking processes. Chocolate with whole-milk added to it reduces the overall cocoa content while increasing saturated fat levels, possibly negating some of cocoa's heart-healthy potential benefits. So this Easter, why not think about your heart health and buy some dark chocolate eggs instead of whole-milk chocolate ones?
Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a super spice that comes from the bark of an Asian evergreen tree. It contains health-promoting antioxidants such as cinnamaldehyde, which is believed to help with circulation. Another promising benefit of this spice is its ability to lower blood sugar levels. In one study of 60 Type 2 Diabetes patients, it was found that after about a month of taking ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels were reduced by up to 29%. Another study suggested you would need spoonfuls rather than sprinkles to lower blood sugar, recommending a tablespoon in 1¼ cups of rice pudding. Now there is an idea.. eating dessert to be healthy!
Vegetables. More and more we are discovering how eating lots of vegetables is the best way to keep our body weight in check. It goes without saying that most us know that vegetables are good for us, so why don’t we eat more of them? When things get busy, it is the vegetable component of our evening meals that gets left out. Meals bought on the run and prepared quickly at home often lack sufficient fresh vegetables, and therefore lack vitamins and minerals. Meals such as these also lack enough fibre and bulk to leave us feeling full and satisfied and this can lead us to overeating.

The Rule of Three. Ideally, an adult requires at least three cups of vegetables or salad every day, and the brighter the colour of the vegetables, the better they will be for you. Unlike fruit, which is carbohydrate-based, veggies consist mainly of water so have virtually no kilojoules, which means you can eat as many as you like, without fear of gaining weight. Eating plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables every day also means that you simply have less room in your diet for poor-quality food.

Bright is Best. It isn’t just kids that can enjoy bright colours; everyone can enjoy incorporating brightly coloured vegetables into their meals. Diets rich in brightly coloured, fresh vegetables have enormous benefits for cell health. The more different colours, the better! Vegetables contain an array of phytochemicals, antioxidants and minerals that work in unison to protect cells from the damage linked to ageing, macular degeneration and some types of cancer.
Some ideas to include more vegetables in your meals include, order or make your own sandwiches with lots of salad, or take an extra couple of salad vegetables with you to eat with lunch. Juicing vegetables – including carrots, celery and beetroot – is a possibility.
Try veggies raw as a pre dinner snack maybe with a veggie dip. Dinner plates should be routinely half-filled with vegetables or salad. Remember by focusing on increasing the vegetable content in your daily diet, you can reduce your total energy intake without even noticing, and you may just loose some weight.

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