Coconuts have been so maligned in dietary circles that those of us who’ve jumped on the coconut bandwagon and started singing it’s praises are often maligned ourselves.
Coconuts are mostly saturated fat, so surely we must be absolutely crazy to promote it as a healthy food.
But — wonder of wonders — coconut is making a comeback! And it’s not just in circles like ours where we challenge politically correct nutrition in favor of traditional food wisdom. You’ll never believe what I just saw. ABC News NOW ran a story on coconuts in which they interviewed a registered dietitian, and the dietitian only had positive things to say.
In fact, she called coconut water “nature’s Gatorade.” What an apt description! Go watch the video.
Here are some of the highlights of the short piece.
First, she defined a coconut and its various life-cycle stages. Coconuts are neither fruits, nor are they tree nuts. So, if you have a tree nut allergy, you have nothing to fear from coconuts. Coconuts are actually the seeds of the palm tree.
When coconuts are young, they are essentially like green water balloons. They have a very thin skin, almost no meat, and are mostly water inside. This coconut water has many benefits. It’s full of potassium and electrolytes and has an osmolality identical to our own blood. Translation: it’s amazingly hydrating, and the water is absorbed almost immediately into our cells. Hence, it’s “nature’s Gatorade.” Perhaps you need to rehydrate after intense physical activity? Maybe your child is ill and you want to prevent dehydration? Why turn to high-fructose, synthetic-vitamin laden drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade when you can drink a traditional beverage straight from nature that tropical people have relied on for thousands of years?
Plus, if you add a little water kefir grains to the coconut water, you can make one of the most healthful probiotic beverages on the planet — one that (according to the Body Ecology Diet and Gut and Psychology Syndrome) has helped halt, reverse, and even heal austism spectrum disorders in young children.
(Speaking of water kefir grains, have you entered yet for your chance to win 3 Free starter cultures from Cultures For Health?)
As coconuts mature, their shell thickens and meat starts forming inside. The coconut water content starts falling, and the juice inside is now what we call coconut milk. Coconut milk is higher in fat and protein, and makes a delicious addition to curries, stews, stir fries, and soups. It can also be used to replace dairy in products like ice cream. Coconut milk is harvested by squeezing coconut meat through cheesecloth. The meat that remains can be dried and used as unsweetened dry coconut flakes in all your cooking. Coconut cream is simply really thick coconut milk.
If you let coconut milk set, it will eventually separate into oil & milk. The coconut oil has many benefits, which I’ve highlighted before. Perhaps the best thing about coconut oil is that it’s high in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) — a type of fat that does not require typical digestion. That’s right. MCFAs don’t require our body to produce bile salts to digest them, nor do they need to be altered from their current form in order to be assimilated into our body. In other words, they get used as fuel almost immediately upon eating. As such, MCFAs can actually promote weight loss because they help our bodies start metabolizing fat rather than storing it.
Honestly, I was surprised to see such a glowing segment honoring coconut on a national cable news network. It’s about time!
This post is participating in today’s Real Food Wednesday carnival hosted by Kelly The Kitchen Kop. Go check it out!
(photo by nidriel)