The Benefits of Coconut

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

A powerhouse of nutrients


Coconut is a true superfood, providing an array of health benefits. It is used to help with weight loss, skin issues, heart health, allergies, diabetes, athletic performance, and neurological health. In traditional cultures, coconut has been used to treat conditions from irregular menstruation and kidney stones to malnutrition and syphilis.  


This nut once had a reputation as being an unhealthy source of fat, but is now a trending health product used by those in the holistic health world. Coconut oil, milk, cream, meat, and water are enjoyed raw or cooked and can be easily added to your favorite smoothie recipes, baked goods or stir fry dishes. I personally eat coconut oil by the spoonful every day and enjoy adding it to my morning coffee.



The misconception of coconut oil in the U.S.


During the low fat diet trend that swept over the U.S. in the late 1900's, coconut oil was avoided due to its reputation as an unhealthy saturated fat. However, studies that linked coconut oil to heart disease and other health problems used highly processed coconut oil which contained unhealthy trans fats. Natural, organic coconut oil contains no trans fats and is in fact one of the most healthy and safe oils out there.


The Philippines consumes very large amounts of coconut oil and has one of the lowest heart disease rates in the word. It has also been consumed as a dietary staple for thousands of years in Polynesia, Hawaii, Malaysia, Africa, and South America. The claims that coconut oil causes heart disease are simply not valid when you look at cultures that consume such high amounts.


People also once feared that foods high in fat cause weight gain and obesity. But what they do not take into consideration is that not all fats are created equally. Coconut oil is mostly comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are less likely to be stored as fat and are shown to aid in weight loss. They are absorbed quickly by the intestines and directly sent to the liver where they are used for energy.


Coconut oil uses


Coconut oil has seemingly endless benefits and is use both internally and externally. Here are just some of its many uses:

  • Reduces bad cholesterol and boosts HDL

  • Protects and moisturizes the skin and hair

  • Kills bacteria , fungi, and microorganisms in the gut

  • Kills dangerous bacteria in the mouth during oil pulling

  • Boosts memory, concentration, and brain function

  • Reduces hunger and boosts weight loss

  • Battles insulin resistance issues to prevent and improve diabetes

  • Relieves skin irritation and eczema

  • Reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation

When used in most treatment protocols, it is recommended to get 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for best results. In addition, coconut oil can be used as eye make up remover, wood shiner, to improve cuticles, in natural deodorant, and to cook and fry foods at high temperatures.



Coconut milk and cream


Coconut milk and cream contain vitamins K, C, E and B6 and other important nutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, selenium, calcium, iron and protein. It has many of the same medicinal properties of coconut oil such as its ability to improve heart health, aid in weight loss, and boost the immune system.


Both coconut milk and cream make perfect ingredients for creamy smoothies and vegan ice creams, as well as a substitute in cooked food recipes that require milk. They are often used by vegans and those following a Paleo diet who want to avoid dairy products, as well as those who have dairy allergies or sensitivities. These coconut products have been used for centuries by traditional cultures in recipes such as coconut curry, korma, puttu, and gulha.


Coconut flour


Coconuts can be dried and made into a gluten free flour perfect for gluten and grain free breads, muffins, and desserts. It is estimated that 60% of Americans suffer from at least one food allergy which can contribute to gastrointestinal distress, joint pain, skin rashes, headaches, anxiety, and asthma, and gluten is one of the most common undiagnosed food allergies. Often, body builders and others, prefer to use coconut flour and other nut flours as a substitute for wheat flour because it is so high in protein and fiber.


My sister and I love baking with coconut flour but it is very absorbant and cannot be directly substituted for regular flour. Much less coconut flour is needed and you can find substitution ratios for gluten free flours all over the internet. You can also check out our recipe section to find some of our favorite coconut flour baked goods.


Summary


Coconut has been enjoyed by traditional cultures for centuries and is used for its medicinal and healing properties. Though Americans once feared eating coconut products due to the long held myth that the saturated fat in coconut is unhealthy, holistic health followers now embrace coconut for its many health benefits. 

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