Posted: Sep 17, 2013 5:00 AM
 
Once considered a taboo food for their high fat content, coconuts are actually considered a superfood that you should be eating. Available in a variety of products from coconut water to coconut flakes, they are easy to add to your diet to reap their many health benefits. And you don't have to travel to a tropical island to try them. Although, we won't blame you if you do.

In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpavriksha which means "tree which gives all that is necessary for living" and they are one of the greatest gifts Mother Nature could have given us. Not only are coconuts good for the skin and hair, they are a superfood that can be consumed in a variety of ways to keep us healthy. And let's not forget they are a tropical fruit which always reminds us of sitting in the sand with our feet touching the blue ocean water.

Health benefits of coconut

At one time, coconuts were believed to be unhealthy because of their high saturated fat content. While it's true coconut oil is high in saturated fat, the difference is in the length of the carbon chain. Coconut oil consists primarily of medium chain fatty acids which require less energy and fewer enzymes to digest than long chain fatty acids like meat, dairy and vegetable oils. Coconut products such as the flesh, cream and oil contain antioxidants and are helpful to the immune system for fighting bacteria and viruses. It is also said that these products can increase metabolism and help with weight loss.

Coconut water is very high in electrolytes and low in sodium and carbohydrates. Because of this, it is an excellent replacement for sugary sports drinks. Coconut water helps rehydrate the body although it is not a substitute for drinking water.

What to look for when buying coconut

coconutsWhen purchasing whole brown coconuts, check to make sure there is no mold growing around the holes on the outside of the coconut. For coconut water, choose ones that are in cardboard containers and are 100 percent natural coconut water with no added sugar. Coconut oil should be purchased in glass jars only, preferably of an amber color if you can find them. When buying shredded coconut or coconut chips, look for raw, organic flakes with no sulfites or preservatives.

Coconut products can be found in your local grocery stores, health food stores and are available at many different sites online such as vivapura.com and sunfood.com.

How to use coconut

The beauty of coconut is you can eat (or drink) it in so many different ways. You can enjoy coconut water straight from the coconut or the container. It can also be added to your favorite smoothie recipes. Coconut milk can be used in cooking and various drinks and smoothies. Coconut flesh can be used in baking, added to various snacks like trail mix or included in smoothies. Coconut oil can be used in baking, cooking, smoothies or eaten plain. The possibilities really are endless when it comes to enjoying coconut products!

Pineapple coconut smoothie

Pineapple coconut smoothie

Serves 1 to 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Coconut milk
  • Ice

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend to desired consistency, adding more coconut milk as needed.
  3. Pour and enjoy!


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Topics: superfood