Milk, water, flesh (a.k.a kernel) and oil – coconut comes in many forms. Whilst living a life without meat, coconut is a good source of protein and fatty acids. But there’s many other health benefits of coconut that you might not have realised…
1. It’s full of Antioxidants:
Rich in dietary fiber, key vitamins and important minerals, coconut is one of many super foods. Like many vegetables, coconuts contain carotenoids. These give vegetables their colour but they have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found ingesting coconut oil can enhance the body’s uptake of carotenoids from other vegetables too. Carotenoids are key to preventing certain disease and work to…
2. Boost our Immunity:
As well as carotenoids, Coconut contains lauric and caprylic acid. In fact, it’s made up of 50% lauric acid and our bodies process these acids into into powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds. These are well-known for fighting off a variety of bacterial infections and viruses which means coconut is great for our immune system.
3. Healthy Skin & Hair:
Coconut’s high amount of antioxidants means it’s excellent for keeping your skin and hair in healthy condition. Using coconut oil on your skin keeps it soft and supple; and it’s a great eye make-up remover! An absolute god send when you run out of make up wipes. It can also help soothe skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Coconut oil is great for keeping your hair healthy and lustrous too – you can apply it to damp hair as you would do with any hair oil.
4. It contains Healthy Fats:
Even though coconut contains high amounts of saturated fat, it’s in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (a.k.a. MCFAs). MCFAs convert into energy fast; they’re easier to digest and can boost your metabolism too. Due to coconut’s low glycemic index rating (slow carb absorption), coconut also provides you with a slow energy release.
5. Healthy Bones & Teeth:
Coconut not only helps your body to absorb more carotenoids but more calcium and magnesium as well. This makes coconut great for supporting the development of healthy bones and teeth. Making it a great dairy substitute for those who are lactose intolerant and wanting to maintain a healthy smile.
It’s all well and good knowing the health benefits of coconut but how can I use it in cooking we hear you ask. Well…
Whilst living a life without meat, coconut is a pretty impressive ingredient. It provides dairy-free alternatives to butter, cream, refined sugar and flour. Making it a versatile ingredient for extensive use in vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Desiccated Coconut is grated, dried and unsweetened coconut flesh; and Coconut Flour is made the same way but ground up more. Both are gluten-free and low in carbs, but high in protein and dietary fiber. Which makes them both very filling and ideal ingredients in baking. Also, coconut flour is very absorbent so less is needed to produce a recipe. This is important to consider if you ever substitute normal flour for coconut flour.
Coconut milk and cream are made by pressing and straining finely grated coconut flesh. The milk alone can make a great base for smoothies and milkshakes. But they’re both renowned for being key ingredients in Thai and Indian cooking. This is because they’re unbeatable for creating creamy curry sauces, pastes and desserts. We used some in our pescatarian King Prawn Tikka Masala Curry and vegetarian Butternut Squash & Courgette Thai Red Curry. Even though ‘lighter’ options are available, it’s always advised to use full fat for a more authentic taste. But don’t worry, remember it’s all good fat.
Coconut oil is used in all sorts of frying. It’s is a step further in the production process as it’s produced by separating the water and oil that make up coconut milk and cream. There are many methods to this magic, including boiling, fermentation and refrigeration to name a few. Yet some brands take short-cuts to bulk-produce cheaper coconut oil which often has less nutritional value. It’s highly advised to buy Organic Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil that’s been produced using the traditional wet-milling process. Research[4,5] has found this method is far superior health-wise as it produces the highest levels of antioxidants.
Coconut sugar is an interesting one. It doesn’t taste like coconut at all as it’s made from cutting the coconut flower. The sap is collected and then heated until most of the water has evaporated. With lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, you can use coconut sugar as you would any other sugar or sweetener. When substituting, you can do so on a 1:1 ratio but bear in mind it has a similar taste to brown sugar so use it in recipes suited to having a hint of caramel.
Coconut fans rave about the health and beauty benefits of using coconut both internally and externally; and so they should! It deserves all the respect it can get. Coconut never ceases to amaze us and if you’ve found this article useful, be sure to share this with your friends so they can be amazed too!
1. Coconut Oil Enhances Tomato Carotenoid Tissue Accumulation
2. Lauric Acid in Coconut
3. Health Risks and Benefits of Coconut Oil
4. What is Virgin Coconut Oil
5. High Antioxidant Activity of Traditionally Made Coconut Oil