When I was younger I always thought that coconut was bad for me. It was high in fat, always found in desserts, and coated with sugar. It just couldn’t be good. I avoided it like the plague, and even convinced myself that I didn’t like it, just so I would never have to have the fat-loaded sugar bomb that was coconut.
Now that has all changed. Thanks to recent research we are learning just how good coconut is for us. In fact, there are even countries who consume coconut as a staple of their diet, and are some of the healthiest countries out there. So here are just a few of the major benefits of coconut. I’m even going to share how I like to enjoy it best, plus all of your options for adding this delicious and healthy food into your diet.
Coconut is high in saturated fat, which in the 90’s would be seen as a terrible thing, but now we know better. The main saturated fat in coconut is lauric acid. This type of fat actually helps to boost our HDL levels (the good cholesterol). Separate from this good news, coconut contains mostly medium chain fatty acids. These are known to help improve cholesterol as well as heart health.
Coconut is also 100% trans fat free. In addition to the heart healthy benefits of the fat in coconut, the high fat levels also help keep us fuller longer. Plus thanks to how our bodies digest and metabolize coconut, it naturally reduces our appetite, meaning we stay satiated long after our meal. Additionally the fat helps our bodies absorb other vitamins and minerals, improving overall health.
Coconut is naturally high in electrolytes including potassium, magnesium, and calcium. I consider coconut water Nature’s Gatorade, as it is a great way to balance and replenish electrolytes after a workout.
Coconut is high in fiber, particularly, insoluble fiber. This means that our bodies don’t digest the fiber when we consume it. This way, our blood sugar levels do not raise and we technically do not absorb the calories from the fiber.
Good news for diabetics, coconut is low on the glycemic index and actually slows down the release of glucose in our bodies. In addition it is used for instant energy when we consume it and doesn’t get stored in the body.
Coconut helps to ward off viruses and infections as it improves your immune system and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also acts as an antioxidant and is great for skin and hair too!
If that’s not enough to convince you, coconut can also help to improve brain function thanks to the fatty acids that produce extra ketone bodies in our blood streams.
Now that you know all these facts, how are you going to incorporate coconut in your diet? Here are some of my favorite ways:
- Cook with coconut oil. Always go with unrefined. I love to roast vegetables in coconut oil, cook my eggs with it, use it in stir-fries, and toss sweet potatoes in coconut oil and cinnamon
- Drink coconut water after your workout, mix it in a smoothie, or drink it outside on a particularly hot day. Steer clear of the juice flavored coconut waters as these tend to be higher in sugar.
- Top sweet potatoes, apple slices, or desserts with coconut butter, also called coconut manna. This is a great swap for almond butter, which is high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
- Use coconut milk in coffee, smoothies, or make a pudding or “yogurt” out of it. Coconut milk is a great non-dairy replacement for so many options. Make sure you are buying canned or fresh coconut milk though, and avoid any added ingredients.
- Bake with coconut flour. I use coconut flour in many of my recipes. It is a denser flour that absorbs a lot of liquid so definitely use less than you would normal flour.
Now you tell me,
What's your favorite way to enjoy coconut?