7 Super Benefits of Coconut You Probably Didn't Know About
From coconut water to coconut oil, we've seen this ingredient everywhere in health food stores. Click here to learn the top benefits of coconut.
Nothing conjures up visions of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a tranquil island atmosphere more than the lovely coconut.
Due to its recent re-emergence onto the health scene over the last several years, its popularity as a healthy alternative has people going nuts. (Even though a coconut is not actually a nut!)
This versatile tropical treat is now a mainstay in pantries around the globe in all its different forms - oil, flour, flakes, sugar, and of course, water. As more health-minded people discover the amazing health benefits of coconut - once deemed unfavorable - its value as a healthy alternative is being reevaluated.
Let's look at the full scope of health benefits of coconut in all its various forms. But first . . .
Cracking Open the Coconut
When we mentioned this above, were you surprised to learn that coconuts are not nuts at all? They fall into the stone fruit (or drupe) category.
A drupe is a fruit that has a fleshy outer layer which surrounds a seed. In the case of coconuts, the outer flesh is the green husk which is typically removed before it hits the produce section.
The meat we eat and the coconut water we drink are actually located inside the seed. Examples of other drupes are nectarines, plums, cherries, olives, and pistachios.
And now we get to the tasty part of the coconut. Just look at all the various forms the tropical drupe is available on your grocer's shelves.
The Many Faces of a Tropical Drupe
The solid, white inner seed flesh is rich in fiber and makes for a hardy snack on its own, but is also popular in a shaved, flaky form, used in trail mixes, salads, and dessert toppings.
This gluten-free flour alternative is perfect for adding a touch of tropical flavor to your baked goods. Created by grinding the pulpy by-product left over when coconut milk is made, coconut flour is very absorbent which requires increased measures of wet ingredients when used in baking.
Also called palm sugar this table sugar alternative is collected from the sap of coconut palm flowers. Due to the simple harvesting process, coconut sugar retains its natural minerals - potassium calcium, zinc, and iron.
A rich, cream-like liquid is created from a mixture of water and pulverized coconut meat, then strained through a sieve. An excellent milk substitute, coconut is vegan and lactose-free. A staple in any curry dish it also makes a powerful addition to smoothies, tropical cocktails, and a seafood poaching liquid. Of course, if you're not dieting, it's great to drink a la carte.
By far the most famous of all the coconut derivations, this oil of many uses is extracted from coconut flesh. It's used in cooking and baking, in salad dressings and sauces, and as a beauty treatment for skin and hair. Experts suggest using unprocessed, unrefined virgin coconut oil because it does not contain hydrogenated fats.
Coconut water has received a lot of press recently being touted as the king of all hydration, and others who disagree.
Coconut water with the highest concentration of electrolytes is found in green, nonmature coconuts. Low in sugar, carbohydrates, calories, and nearly fat-free, coconut water is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
7 Health Benefits of Coconut
For something that is available in so many different forms, you'd hope it packs a serious nutritional punch. The nutritional profile and benefits of coconut are no less than it's many uses. Let's break it down.
When you exert yourself enough during exercise your body releases a combination of water and electrolytes through the sweat glands. Electrolytes are minerals found naturally in our bodies (magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium to be exact).
What's so important about these minerals is that they help regulate a few important bodily functions. Think heart, lung, and brain functions. Needless to say, electrolytes are very important and necessary.
The process of rehydrating isn't simply about getting water back into the system. It also involves replenishing missing electrolytes.
Enter coconut water.
The liquid obtained from immature coconuts is packed with a variety of minerals -- potassium, magnesium, and calcium, to name a few. Although present in small amounts, these nutrients occur naturally. This means the body accepts them as food and easily digests them. Rehydration the natural way.
2) Enhances Immunity
With the growing popularity of this tropical delicacy, more studies link the coconut to signs of improving the immune system. "Some literature suggests that coconut possesses antimicrobial properties. Certain studies on the fatty-acid laurin -- present in coconut -- show that laurin works effectively against gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus.
3) Appetite Suppressant
Both coconut meat and coconut water are high in fiber. According to Pennsylvania State Researcher, Barabra Rolls, PhD "Foods containing water, air, or fiber have fewer calories than other foods and also cause the stomach to stretch and empty slowly."
4) Stimulates Metabolism
Studies show that the medium-chain fatty acids, or triglycerides, (MCTs) found in coconut act as calorie burning boosters. This boost in metabolism also results in increased energy levels because MCTs burn off as fuel rather than being stored as body fat.
This important research has spurred an interest in examing the benefits of coconut in helping curb the obesity epidemic.
5) A Diabetic Safe Zone
Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. The glycemic index is the value used to measure how much particular foods raise blood sugar levels.
One of the scientifically-backed benefits of coconut products is a low glycemic index. This means that the many forms of coconut are excellent substitutes for flour, refined sugar, butter and cream in the diabetic diet.
6) May Prevent Tooth Decay
Streptococcus mutans is a type of bacteria found in the mouth that is responsible for causing tooth decay. Researchers from Ireland's Athlone Institute of Technology published some promising findings. They reported that coconut oil, in its digested form, inhibits the S. mutans bacteria from multiplying and in some cases destroyed tooth decay-causing bacteria completely.
7) Non-Toxic Moisturizer
The benefits of coconut aren't limited to internal health. Applying coconut oil to the hair and scalp is a common method for nourishing hair follicles and producing healthier hair.
It can also be used topically as a skin moisturizer. It has antioxidant properties which help promote healthier skin. Because coconut oil is natural, it is a better way to moisturize the face and body, rather than using lotions or creams filled with toxic chemicals.
Ready to Go Nuts for Coconuts?
These are just a few of the amazing benefits of coconut. Rich in fiber, full of vitamins and nutrients, and myriad health-boosting qualities, it's no wonder it's rising to star status among health-centric people everywhere.
If you're looking to gain some of the health benefits from coconut why not try a flavorful coconut water? And if you're looking for a coconut water that's organic, non-GMO, kosher, gluten-, corn- and soy-free . . . we've got you covered.
Try Coco Libre Coconut Water today.