Going Crazy for Coconuts!
For those looking to avoid dairy or soy products, or looking for a way to add a refreshing alternative or healthy boost to their diets, look no further than coconut. These days you can find a variety of products that make use of this healthy tree fruit, which can be used to supplement or replace higher-fat or less nutrient-dense foods.
Coconut milk is an excellent alternative to dairy or other types of milk, and is refreshing with a light flavor. In canned form, coconut milk can be used in a variety of recipes, from curries to smoothies and more. In the refrigerated section, you can find cartons of coconut milk that can be used just as you would any other milk - in your cereals, recipes or coffee. You can even find coconut-based yogurts for a delicious, nutritious treat. The milk’s medium-chain fatty acids contribute to healthy fat levels, which in turn help the body reduce cardiovascular related illnesses.
Instead of other vegetable oils you can use coconut oil and reap the health benefits. Coconut oil does contain saturated fat, but this is offset by the high concentrations of lauric acid, which has been found to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and it does not increase LDL levels. This type of oil has also been linked to healthy weight loss by increasing metabolism and aiding digestion.
The meat of the coconut is an excellent addition to baked goods, as well as cereals, salads, and many Eastern dishes. Dried coconut has 6.9 grams of protein and 16.5 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams. Although high in saturated fat, this fat is found in the form of medium-chain fatty acids which are quickly and easily broken down and can help contribute to healthy cholesterol levels. It is also a good source of manganese, which helps the body absorb other nutrients as well as assisting with the metabolism of fat and protein. Be sure to look for unsweetened coconut, as it does not have any added sugar and is closer to its natural state.
Coconut water is a refreshing beverage, perfect for hot days or after strenuous exercise. It is also an excellent source of electrolytes which help with hydration and recovery and contains a host of bioactive enzymes that assist with digestion and metabolism. The water also contains a host of minerals and B-complex vitamins. Who knew that the coconut could be so good for you? Whether cooking, baking, or looking for a treat, coconut products offer a variety of health benefits, while at the same time being refreshing and filling. Try adding coconut to your diet – you’ll enjoy the change of texture and flavor and your body will thank you for it! Photo:YIM Hafiz