How Do you Choose the Best Coconut
Coconut oil was once a
heart-health “don’t” thanks to its 87 percent saturated-fat content. Solid at
room temperature, it’s making a comeback in some packaged foods and for cooking
and baking. While it may be marketed as helpful for cholesterol levels, some
nutrition experts disagree about the health benefits of coconut oil. “Coconut
oil contains a mixture of saturated fatty acids, some of which don’t adversely
affect cholesterol levels,” says Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for
the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But while its predominant saturated
fat —lauric acid—does raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, it also raises harmful
LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease.” Look for
coconut oil, in jars or tubs, near other cooking oils in large supermarkets, in
the natural-foods section, or in natural-foods stores. Wondering how to cook
with coconut oil? In our healthy coconut-oil recipe for Coconut-Carrot Morning
Glory Muffins, we use coconut oil sparingly, in place of butter or other oils.
Coconut milk is made from a brew
of coconut meat and water. But don’t confuse it with lower-calorie coconut
water. Rich and thick and more like cream than milk, coconut milk packs an
eye-opening 445 calories and 48 grams of fat (43 grams saturated) per cup.
That’s where “lite” coconut milk comes in: you can substitute “lite” coconut
milk for traditional coconut milk to trim roughly two-thirds the fat and
calories without sacrificing flavor, as we do in our healthy coconut-milk
recipe for Coconut-Milk Chicken Curry.
Coconut water has gotten a lot of
buzz for its purported health benefit as a “natural” sports drink. It is a
great hydrator for light workouts, as 1 cup serves up more than 10 percent of
your daily dose of potassium—an electrolyte you lose through sweat.
(Just be mindful that 8 ounces of
coconut water delivers 45 calories.) But it won’t do the job if you’re sweating
up a storm. Why? When we sweat we lose up to 10 times more sodium than
potassium. And coconut water only contains about 30 mg of sodium per cup,
whereas sports drinks usually deliver about 110 mg. In your market, look for
coconut water without added sugar in the refrigerated section near other
flavored waters or near shelf-stable waters and natural fruit juices. You can
use coconut water in smoothies, as we do in our healthy recipe for Creamsicle
Coconut flour is a healthy way to
add decadent coconut flavor to baked goods. As for health benefits of coconut
flour: it packs a whopping 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons (with only 2
grams of total and saturated fat). Coconut flour has health benefits for people
with diabetes, too: adding coconut flour to baked goods lowers the glycemic
index (a measure of the rate that a food increases blood sugar). In your
market, look for coconut flour near other gluten-free flours. We use it in this
healthy coconut-flour recipe for Coconut-Dark Chocolate Truffles
Once the outer green husk of the
coconut is removed, what remains is the seed and its rich inner white lining,
the coconut meat. If you’re eating a low-carb diet, you’ll be happy to know
each 2-by-2-inch piece of raw fresh coconut meat contains only about 7 grams of
carbohydrate (less than a third of what you’d get from a medium apple) and is
jammed with 4 grams of fiber (16 percent of your daily dose). On the flip side,
coconut meat is the nutritional opposite of what you’d expect from a fruit:
what it lacks in carbohydrates, it makes up for in fat with 15 grams of fat per
2-inch chunk of coconut, most of which is unhealthy saturated fat. Another
reason to not eat coconut meat with abandon: that little piece sports 160
While fresh coconut meat is
nutritionally superior (it contains more water, which dilutes the fat and
calories), prepackaged dried flaked coconut or dried shredded coconut is the
most convenient to cook or bake with. Choose unsweetened dried shredded coconut
or coconut flakes over sweetened dried coconut, which has 2 teaspoons added
sugar per ounce.
To toast dried shredded coconut
or dried coconut flakes, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat,
stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes or
spread in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until light golden and
fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. You can use dried shredded coconut or coconut flakes
in cooking and baking, as in our healthy recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp with
Health Benefits of Coconut
1. Promotes Blood Circulation
coconut regularly boosts oxygen in the skin and promotes blood circulation. Our
cells need adequate amount of oxygen which can only be made possible by proper
circulation in the body that carries oxygen. This allows proper breathing of
the skin and promotes healthy and flawless complexion.
2. Cleans The Skin
coconut hydrates the skin and makes it youthful and supple. Take a teaspoon of
raw, uncooked coconut oil and massage the skin with it. This will minimise the
outbreaks of skin, rashes and irritations and will beautify the skin from
inside when taken internally.
3. Prevents Skin Cancer
the moisture and lipid content in the skin and prevents skin cancer by blocking
20% of harsh Ultra Violet rays. It can be used as a body and skin moisturiser
as it hydrates the skin by replenishing the natural oils. Coconut oil can also
be used to clean the face by rubbing it in circular motions.
4. Healthy Bones And Teeth
coconuts regularly supports the development of healthy bones and teeth. It
improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium and manganese which aid bone
development. It also prevents osteoporosis, a condition which makes the bones
thin and fragile and loses its density. Thus it is a healthy alternative for
those who are lactose intolerant.
5. Extremely Beneficial During Pregnancy
is sterile and is very good for pregnant ladies. It improves the immunity and
health of the mother and baby and prevents infection and other diseases. It
also boosts the levels of amniotic fluid to improve the overall health of the
6. Improves Blood Cholesterol
to improve blood cholesterol levels in the body and lowers the risk of heart
diseases. The saturated fats in coconut raise the good cholesterol in the body
and control the LDL to a benign subtype. This improvement in cardiovascular
risk factors theoretically leads to reducing risk of developing heart diseases.
7. Nutritious And Healthy
is considered to be more nutritious and healthier than whole milk. It contains
lauric acid which is considered equivalent to mother’s milk. It is naturally
sterile as it permeates through the filtering husk. It also cures hangover.
Coconut water has a natural isotonic beverage in the same level as that in the
8. Treats Epilepsy
diet is a low carb diet which is used to treat various disorders. Its best
known application is treating epilepsy in children. The diet involves eating
little carbs and large amounts of fat which can lead to increased
concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood. This diet can dramatically reduce
the rate of seizures in epileptic children.
9. Treats Abdominal Fat
also beneficial in treating dangerous fats in the abdominal cavity. Abdominal
fats are the most dangerous of all the fats and are associated with various
diseases. A 200 grams of coconut serving daily can lead to significant
reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in just 12 weeks.
10. Fiber Content
high in dietary fibre and provides a whopping 61% of fibre. Coconut fibre slows
down the release of glucose and transports it to the cell were it is converted
into energy. It assists in relieving stress on the pancreas and enzyme systems
which reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
11. Controls Diabetes
improves the insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. It controls diabetes by positively affecting the hormones for blood sugar control. This
slows down the rise in blood sugar level and helps to reduce glycemic cravings.
Coconut benefits quick digestion and other symptoms associated with digestive
and bowel disorders. It supports absorption of nutrients and minerals while providing
dietary fibre. It also reduces vomiting and nausea.
12. Boosts Immunity
nutrition is excellent for the immunity system. It is antiviral, antifungal,
anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic. Intake of coconut oil can help the body to
mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that cause illness. That said,
can you eat raw coconut? Consuming coconut in its raw form can help to treat
some of the worst and most resilient illness like throat infections,
bronchitis, urinary tract infection, tapeworms and other ailments caused by