Health Benefits of Coconut Uncovered
The coconut has made a resurgence as a healthy resource. The health benefits of coconut products are now known to outweigh any unhealthy drawbacks.
Up until a few years ago coconut, especially coconut oil, had a bad reputation for being too high in saturated fat. It is true that coconut and the products that come from coconut are high in saturated fat. However, the saturated fat in coconut is unique. Over 50% of the fat in coconut is lauric acid which has been shown to be both anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Another health benefit from eating coconut is that it contains medium chain fatty acids, which can be used for energy before going into cellular fat storage. Studies have also shown that ketones, that the body creates from MCTs, may be used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and Epilepsy, among other conditions. Other studies confirm a link between a diet rich in coconut and good heart health (1).
In the recent past, it was difficult to find anything made from coconut, other than sweetened coconut flakes. You either had to go to your local Asian market or health food store to enjoy the health benefits of coconut. Now you can find just about every form of coconut at most grocery stores. Below is a run-down of the coconut products you might encounter.
Sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes: These are made by drying and shredding the interior coconut meat. Avoid any sweetened coconut products, delicious whole foods do not need extra sweetener. Most dried shreds or flakes have been soaked in corn syrup, taking away many of the health benefits. Always choose unsweetened coconut shreds or flakes (2).
Coconut milk: Coconut milk is made from the interior meat of a mature coconut that is milked or squeezed to express the milk (juice) from the pulp. The milk is then diluted with water to create coconut milk. It can be classified as either thick or thin depending on how much water is used. (3)
Coconut cream: This is also made from the interior mature meat of a coconut. The cream is the undiluted milk (juice) expressed from the meat. It is very thick and has a 24% fat content.
Coconut butter: This butter is made from pureed coconut meat or flakes. It is not coconut oil. It may be slightly soft at room temperature or be quite firm.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is the oil extracted from coconut meat.
Coconut flour: This is ground up dried coconut flakes. If you start with dried coconut flakes and grind them in a food processor, you will get coconut flour. If you continue to grind for long enough, the oil in the flakes will be released and you will end up with coconut butter.
The health benefits of coconut products are numerous. Most major stores carry many of these products. Check them out for yourself and see how the health benefits of coconut can improve your wellness!
Carly Neubert, BA, NC is a certified Nutrition Consultant and Dr. Sears Health Coach, and First Line Therapy Coach. She lives on the gorgeous Central Coast of California with her husband and dog. She has a decade of experience in the natural health industry including attending Hawthorn University. Her devotion to nutrition comes from her own journey to manage anxiety, fatigue, depression and digestive issues. Her mantra is “food is information” —let your body know how you want it to perform by giving it good information in the form of high quality nourishing foods. Aside from community education classes, Carly has a clinical practice at Nest Integrative Medicine Spa in Santa Barbara, CA. You can learn more about her at www.nestspasb.com or follow her on Facebook at Healthy Habits Living.