Coconut: Water, Milk, or Oil?
With all of the amazing health benefits that coconut has to offer, it’s no wonder that there are numerous coconut-based food items popping up in grocery and natural food stores. All of the options out there make it a good time to go over the health benefits of coconut water, milk and oil. Make sure you know what you are getting with each one!
Coconut Water: Coconut water is the clear liquid found in the middle of young coconuts. Coconut water makes a fantastic natural sports drink because it replenishes several essential nutrients that are lost when we sweat, like potassium and sodium. Coconut water contains numerous electrolytes (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium). It is a much better option than most sports drinks because it does not have artificial chemicals, added sugars and/or preservatives, and it has 15 times the amount of potassium of the average sports drink (which is about the same amount as a small banana). Unlike coconut milk or oil, it is fat free and relatively low in calories. Look for O.N.E. Coconut Water in natural food stores, as it has many different naturally flavored options that make coconut water taste more like juice.
Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is the liquid expelled from fresh coconut meat and water. The saturated fat in the coconut meat is from Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA), which may boost immunity, prevent heart disease and work as a good energy source without being stored as fat in the body. Coconut milk is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is a wonderfully delicious ingredient for making sauces, curries or desserts. Keep in mind that although “lite” coconut milks have less fat and far fewer calories, less fat means less MCFA, which translates into fewer health benefits. So Delicious offers a line of coconut milks that are dairy free alternatives to cow’s milk, which is a great way to make coconut a part of your daily routine. They taste fantastic and make for out-of-this-world smoothies. Be sure to buy the unsweetened kind…no need to add any more processed sugar to our diets.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat as well, however only the fat content is retained. This means you get more concentrated MCFA with coconut oil compared to coconut milk (3.5 tbsp. of coconut oil is equivalent to ten ounces of coconut milk in fat content). However, keep in mind that coconut oil has 120 calories and 12 grams of saturated fats in one tbsp., which means it is ONLY good in place of other oils or butters. Translation: it should not to be added unnecessarily to your diet, despite the claims of proponents of the popular “coconut oil diet”. Research has actually shown that consuming coconut oil results in weight gain, not loss. That’s because you would be adding almost 500 extra calories to your diet if you follow the 4 tbsp. a day that this "diet" recommends. If you are going to buy coconut oil, make sure to get it from a natural store so that it has no hydrogenation or chemical alterations.
Nothing replaces the benefits of eating a real coconut, as you get the raw nutrients plus fiber, which you don’t get with any of the options above. But however you do it, get some coconut in your diet!
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