Need some new reasons to love an old favorite? Get ready to go nuts for coconuts.
Coconuts (Cocos nucifera) are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fats and have been a dietary staple in the areas where they're native for centuries. Coconuts also have a variety of reported medicinal benefits and are said to have antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti parasite and anti-inflammatory properties while also supporting healthy blood sugar levels, tissues and metabolic rate.
Coconut is also a popular scent for cosmetics, skincare products and home furnishings like candles. The sweet and nutty scent can be transformative, inspiring daydreams about laying on the beach and soaking up the sun (probably with a pina colada in your hand).
Most people are familiar with coconut meat, often sold in the form of flakes for sprinkling on cakes and adding sweetness to other dishes as well as candy. However, there are more healthful ways out there to enjoy the benefits of coconut.
There are literally hundreds of uses for coconut oil. Just type "coconut oil" into your favorite search engine and prepare to be amazed. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fat, which can be alarming at first, but the fat content has actually proven to be beneficial. First of all, you can cook with it. Stir-fry vegetables, blend it into a smoothie or smear it on toast. You can also mix coconut oil with water and drink it as a way to suppress the appetite. This oil also makes a great moisturizer for the hair and skin. Apply it to skin right after bathing or sleep with some on your dry hair and watch the transformation.
You can buy the oil in jars or in softgel form in you don't want to consume the actual oil. Coconut oil will be solid at room temperature, with a cloudy, white appearance. Once the oil melts, it will be clear. Make sure to look for an oil that is virgin, pure and cold pressed, to make sure you're getting all of the valuable fats and nutrients.
Looking to switch things up next time you're baking? Produced from ground, dried coconut meat, coconut flour is completely gluten free and makes a great alternative to wheat and grain flours for those with intolerances. This type of flour is also high in protein and fiber and low in carbs and fat (even the good fats present in the oil). It does have a mild, sweet taste to it which lends itself nicely to your baked goods or even pancakes. However, bloggers who have tried it don't recommend using it to thicken sauces, gravies or soups. Check the label for an unsweetened product.
Coconut Milk and Water
A refreshing way to add more coconut to your diet is by drinking it. You can try coconut milk, which is pressed from coconut meat and contains fat, or go the fat-free route with coconut water. Coconut milk is great for cooking, especially to balance out strong spices turmeric or hot peppers. Try it in curry or add it to soup for some richness.
Coconut water is taken from young coconuts that are still green. The water is clear and has a sweet taste. The fresher the better. What makes coconut water a favorite among athletes (as an alternative to calorie-packed and sugar-filled sports drinks), nutritionists and the health conscious is the presence of the minerals sodium and potassium, which keep the body's fluid levels in balance as electrolytes. For both coconut milk and water, make sure the product doesn't have any added sugar or other sweetener.
Whether you gulp it down or slather your skin with it, try adding more coconut to your diet and enjoy the benefits it provides. Shop our full selection of coconut products at eVitamins and let us know what you think!