Going nuts for coconut!
Coconut oil is the new kid on the super food block. Claims it has positive effects on almost everything from wrinkles to Alzheimer’s reeks of another health fad – or is it?
Goodness within a hard exterior
Rich in medium-chain triglycerides – beneficial saturated fats that convert to energy instead of body fat – coconut oil has been found to help raise HDL (or “good cholesterol”) levels.
It can also assist in weight loss and normalizing thyroid function. Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats, including lauric acid, which contain antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral prosperities to boost the immune system.
Lauric acid contains the highest concentration of MCFA fatty acids, approximately 75 per cent. The body turns this fat into monolaurin which is claimed to help heal viruses such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, helicobacter pylori and candida.
Coconut super powers (aka benefits)
Including coconut oil in the diet has been found to benefit digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and microbial related tummy bugs.
And there’s more! It seems coconut oil may be beneficial in maintaining cognitive health. Numerous anecdotal reports linking the introduction of coconut oil to the diet with improved function experienced by sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease have prompted further research. While early results are promising, the jury is still out on the benefits of coconut oil to dementia sufferers.
This tropical superfood yields a number of products available in health food stores or supermarkets:
Unsweetened Dried Coconut
Chewy dried coconut is a culinary chameleon—it can be used to make coconut milk or butter and can be used as a substitute for oats in many recipes. Sold as shredded and desiccated coconut, this form is traditionally used in baking and confectionery.
Try adding it to your next crumbing mix for chicken schnitzel - delicious!
This ambrosial amber syrup is low on the glycemic index (GI) and chock full of amino acids, essential minerals, and B vitamins. It’s an ideal liquid sweetener or substitute for honey or maple syrup.
Coconut sugar is a granulated sweetener with low GI, high mineral and B vitamin content and marvellous flavour (like brown sugar with a caramel edge).
Fluffy, high fibre coconut flour is indispensable in recipes that call for it.
Coconut milk has the liquid consistency of cow’s milk and is made from simmering one part
shredded coconut in one part water. Coconut milk is the basis of most Thai curries.
Coconut cream is much thicker and richer. It is made from simmering four parts shredded coconut in one part water. The cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk is also considered coconut cream.
Coconut yoghurt is a healthy alternative that’s made with coconut milk instead. In addition to being dairy free, coconut yoghurt also supplies several key vitamins and minerals and can have live and active cultures just like milk based yoghurts.
The best place to get refreshing, electrolyte-rich coconut water is straight out of a young coconut, but there are also decent store bought options nowadays. According to the United Nations (UN), coconut water’s chemical profile is so similar to blood plasma it has been used intravenously to save lives in developing countries and during World War II. In the Pacific, it was siphoned directly from the nut to provide emergency transfusions for wounded soldiers.
Beyond the kitchen bench
Coconut isn’t just for cooking – it’s a wonderfully hydrating treat for skin too. It keeps the skin’s connective tissues strong, which prevents sagging and wrinkles. Apply coconut oil directly to your skin to soften the appearance of fine lines or use it daily on your face and body for a healthy glow. Be sure you use virgin coconut oil with no additives.
Coconut oil has a number of other uses including as:
- An excellent insect repellent and bite and sting healing agent.
- A ringworm and fungal infections treatment.
- A moisturiser, shaving cream, makeup remover and a massage oil.
- A great lip balm
- A tamer of frizzy hair - in small quantities.
- Leather polish and conditioner.
- Polish for wooden furniture, mix a little lemon juice and oil.
- Metal polish (especially copper) and rust remover, simply coat the rusty surface in a light layer of oil, let sit for an hour, and rinse clean.