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It turns out everything about these tasty seeds is pretty great! Yes, coconuts, with their tough exterior rinds are considered seeds.
Coconut water, coconut meat and, of course, coconut oil offer a multitude of health benefits. The high nutrient value of coconuts is due in part to their tropical location. They grow near the ocean where they constantly absorb nutrients from the water, which is full of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium.
These minerals in coconut water are mainly in the form of electrolytes, which is fitting considering that locals would drink this nutrient-rich beverage after working all day in the sun.
If you’re working up a sweat this summer while playing or working outside, consider reaching for some coconut water to replenish your electrolyte stores. Coconut water is much lower in sugar than popular sports beverages and contains about a fifth of the sugar of apple or grape juice. It also contains a high amount of potassium. Coconut water is used traditionally to treat heat-and activity-caused illnesses such as dehydration, fatigue, heatstroke and urinary tract infections. Ideally, we should replenish our electrolyte stores from beverages where they occur naturally as opposed to artificial, sugary drinks that cause more health problems than health benefits. Instead of putting a Band-Aid on your dehydration problem like sports drinks, coconut water can help with your immediate dehydration problem and contribute to your future health!
Coconut oil also possesses several health benefits which were misunderstood for a long period of time due to the saturated fat content in this oil. In fact, coconut oil contains a natural form of saturated fat which contains properties that fight many cardiovascular diseases.
Still scared to embrace the health benefits of coconut oil?
Consider the past populations of the native Polynesians who derived up to 50 percent of their daily calories from this saturated fat and who had some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular diseases in the world. Looks like those lucky islanders knew something the rest of us don’t!
The saturated fat in coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are quickly metabolized and digested by the body. Rather than the long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) which are larger molecules and which are digested slowly, MCFAs are utilized quickly for energy by the body. LCFAs may be stored as fat by the body, while MCFAs are used immediately by the body. Coconut oil is thought to be one of the best sources of MCFAs at this time.
This makes coconut oil remarkably useful in providing an energy boost that is more long term than that provided by sugar or simple carbohydrates and is not detrimental to one’s overall health. Unlike carbohydrates, coconut oil does not promote insulin resistance.
Like its sibling healthy coconut water, coconut oil is often added to the energy bars of athletes because of its energy and health boosting properties. Try adding this healthy fat to your meals by cooking with it or using it as an ingredient. One way of adding healthy coconut fat to your diet is by using coconut cream. Price-Pottenger Vice President, nutritionist David Getoff, CCN, likes to mix coconut cream and water to make coconut milk, which he then mixes into his beans, using one part homemade coconut milk and two parts water.
Coconut oil also supports energy metabolism by stimulating the thyroid, which allows for more calorie burn. This “magic fat” is so effective at stoking metabolism that it can help to burn up the calories it provides as well as other calories (energy) consumed. Ironically, polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oil cause weight gain not simply just because of calorie content, but because their molecular structure depresses thyroid activity, thereby effectively slowing metabolic functions.
In part because it is a fat, and in part because it contains MCFAs, coconut oil is especially good at helping the body absorb nutrients.
Sounds like you have a healthy alternative to help you absorb the minerals in your coconut water!
The innocent-looking coconut is really a contrarian in disguise. Its “juice” contains disease-fighting properties and unlike sodas and sugary fruit drinks can help alleviate symptoms of diabetes. Coconut oil is a fat which provides energy while accelerating metabolic function without causing heart problems.
See our recipes in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing for creative and healthy uses for the awesome coconut. Check out our recipe below for Coconut Curry Thai Shrimp Soup. Yum! We like using coconut oil in cooking because its molecular structure does not change when exposed to heat, while other oils tend to break down during cooking. For example, most vegetable oils are unstable and can become toxic when heated. No oil (including coconut oil) intended for consumption should be heated to the smoking point.
We prefer the oil which has the coconut flavor removed (so as to avoid coconut-flavored eggs or coconut-flavored stir-fry meals!) However, some cooks find the coconut flavor very enjoyable and purchase organic, virgin coconut oil with the coconut flavor intact.
Coconut Curry Thai Shrimp Soup
– From PPNF Board member Annie Dru
- 2 quarts homemade fish stock (basic recipe in Nourishing Traditions)
- 1 16 oz can whole coconut milk
- 3 Tbs Thai red curry paste
- 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 bunch scallions sliced on the diagonal
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup naturally fermented, gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 Tbs coconut oil
- 1/2 lb wild caught shrimp
- 1 tsp miso per bowl of soup
- Saute ginger, garlic and scallions in coconut oil until fragrant, then deglaze pan with wine.
- Meanwhile, heat stock and coconut milk in a large sauce pan and make a paste in a small bowl with the curry and soy sauce.
- Transfer curry paste mixture and sauteed vegetables to the soup pot.
- Add shrimp and turn off heat.
- Shrimp are done when they turn pink.
- Make a paste with miso and a spoonful of warm stock in each bowl, then fill bowl with soup and top with a spoonful of cilantro-pecan pesto.