One of the biggest health trends right now is coconut. Whether it be coconut water, coconut meat, coconut milk or coconut oil, food companies are capitalizing on this and for good reason. I love a great coconut product. The benefits of adding coconut into your life are widely varied – it helps to boost immunity, improve heart health, promote lean body weight, stoke your metabolism, and is incredibly nourishing for your hair and skin. But the most awesome health benefit about coconut oil is its’ ability to help the body burn fat for energy.
Here’s the deal….coconut oil is composed of medium-chain triglycerides. I know…kinda sounds a bit scientific but let me tell you a little about the structure of a fatty acid. All fats contain a certain number of carbon atoms, which are connected together in a big chain. There are short chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids, long-chain fatty acids, and very long chain fatty acids. The body breaks down and metabolizes all these fatty acids differently – some are used for immediate energy, while others aren’t used as effectively and tend to be more predominately stored in fat cells. The fatty acid in a coconut (it’s oil) is a medium-chain fatty acid, therefore its smaller, easily digested, and then immediately burned by the liver for energy. In other words, it helps to boost your metabolism! Many people are on low-fat diets, however, don’t skimp on adding this amazing fat to your diet.
Now let’s talk about the coconut products on the market…
COCONUT WATER: I love coconut water on occasion. I think there are only a few options on the market that aren’t just essentially sugar water (I love HARMLESS HARVEST – 100% RAW ORGANIC COCONUT WATER). Coconut water is a great rehydrator, chock full of important electrolytes that are very beneficial to consume after a hard, sweaty workout. Additionally, coconut water has very beneficial probiotics that help to populate the gut with healthy bacteria. However, not so much as fabulous while sitting at your desk, sipping away on a 50 oz. container of coconut water. Look at the sugar content. Sure…it’s a natural form of sugar but sugar is sugar and a calorie is a calorie. If you are looking to cut back on calories, cut out the coconut water unless you are exercising. It should be a “once in awhile” drink, rather than something you drink all day, every day.
COCONUT OIL: Coconut oil is the best! And it’s delicious. Again, it’s composed of medium-chain triglycerides so you will utilize the fat for immediate energy (rather than store it). However, please note that coconut oil is very high in saturated fat (the fat that contributes to increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels) but since it is coming from a non-animal product, you can rest that it’s not a poor option. Most of the saturated fats that we need to be careful about are the ones that have been hydrogenated and in turn become trans fat. Stay away from those!! On top of all the great benefits, coconut oil has a high smoke point so it doesn’t become carcinogenic at high heat. It can also last up to 2 years in your home due to its resistance to rancidity. My suggestion would be to use it when cooking with any veggie. I personally think kale sautéed in coconut oil is incredible.
One more incredible benefit of coconut oil is what it does for your skin and hair. It’s a great moisturizer for your skin and helps to prevent protein breakdown in your hair which can contribute to dry, damaged tresses. I love using it after hitting the sauna or steam room.
COCONUT MEAT: While high in calories (1 cup = 283 calories), coconut meat is still a fabulous product to add to your diet. 1 cup contains 7.2 grams of fiber, in addition to very beneficial minerals such as Manganese (helps with fat and protein metabolism), Potassium (electrolyte that maintains fluid balance of your cells), and Copper (assists in production of red blood cells and helps with your sense of taste). I think it’s a great addition to your fresh smoothie.
Nourish your body with this amazing food!!!