Classed as a fruit and frequently confused for being a nut, the coconut is actually a one-seeded fruit. Palm trees produce coconuts up to 13 times a year and although it takes a year for the coconuts to mature, a fully blossomed tree can produce between 60-180 coconuts in a single harvest.
Coconut milk is different to coconut water. Coconut water is the clear liquid from the centre of the young, green coconut and is low in fat but rich in easily digested carbohydrates. Coconut water has received a great deal of attention for its perceived health benefits, and is an important treatment for acute diarrhoea in the developing world. It is said to have a similar electrolyte balance as that found in isotonic drinks, which some claim to be useful for rehydration after intensive exercise.
Coconut flesh is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. However, the coconut milk available to us in the UK is typically canned and potentially lacking in many of these valuable micronutrients.