I have fallen in love with coconut. I guess I always knew that I loved the taste of the tropics but, in days past, I pretty much reserved it for those brightly coloured drinks I enjoyed in warmer climates. Over the past several months I’ve been experimenting and incorporating more and more coconut into my diet and I am hooked. Not only is it super delicious, it’s good for you too. What else could you ask for?
Here are just a few of the reasons why I love coconut:
- Yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat. BUT it is also what is known as a medium chain triglyceride (or MCT), which the body metabolizes differently. Whereas long chain fatty acids (found in other vegetable oils and red meat) tend to deposit into the body’s fat stores or as cholesterol in your blood vessels, MCT’s are digested more rapidly, are sent directly to the liver and are used immediately as a fuel source. As such, they actually boost your metabolic rate and can even help with weight loss.
- Studies have shown that coconut oil can help increase nutrient absorption. Certain minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) and the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) depend on fats for optimal absorption from the small intestine. Even if you eat foods rich in these nutrients, you could be deficient if you are not consuming enough healthy fats with them. As such, coconut oil can in fact help guard against chronic illnesses such as osteoporosis and cancer.
- As any fat will do, coconut oil will help stabilize your blood sugar and guard against the damaging effects of excess insulin, including belly fat, metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes
- Coconut oil has been shown to increase your levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). HDL will shuttle LDL away from your artery walls, which reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke
- Smooth and silky skin and hair. You can slather it all over your skin after a shower or use it as a natural hair conditioner. Even eating it helps lubricate cells from the inside and helps make your skin softer than it’s been in years.
So, how do you incorporate more coconut into your diet? Here are some of my favourite ways:
- Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie; goes particularly well with bananas and mangoes
- Cook your rice in half water, half coconut milk for a delicious change from the same old side dish
- Use it to stirfry your veggies: as a saturated fat it has a high smoke point so it won’t turn rancid at a high heat. This makes it ideal for cooking.
- Spread it on your toast or pancakes and sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Yum!
- Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes (especially potassium) which is great for endurance athletes. But note, it doesn’t contain a significant amount of carbs so it should not replace your regular sports drink or gel.
One final note: coconut oil can be just another processed product. An organic product with minimal processing will eliminate the possibility of GMO’s (genetically modified products), as well as the byproducts from bleaching and hydrogenating the oil. And, of course, an organic and unrefined coconut oil will taste better. You should be able to smell the tropics when you open the jar. My favourite brand is Nutiva.
What are your favourite ways to use coconut? Please do share them with me!