Move aside, Brussel sprouts and kale; coconut is the latest food to achieve super food status.
From the baking good section to the beauty aisle, coconut water to coconut oil, coconut-based products are flying off supermarket shelves. For a food so rich in calories and saturated fats, coconuts sure are soaking up a healthy hype. The question is whether the fruit is actually worth the hype, or is this just another food trend?
Though innovative and delicious, coconut shouldn’t necessarily be synonymous with healthy. Coconut is high in saturated fats (12-grams per tablespoon) and many of the processed foods are higher in calories with added sugars and salts.
However, studies published by the USDA suggest that not all fats or saturated fats are created equal. Coconut oil contains higher amounts of medium chain triglycerides; which are sent to the liver during metabolism and used more quickly for energy compared to long-chain triglycerides from soybean oil, for example, that is more readily stored as fat.
So how can you enjoy coconut and reap the health benefits associated with it? Read labels and enjoy in moderation. Essentially limit your intake to two to three times a week and don’t overindulge thinking it’s a ‘healthy’ alternative.
Itching to try more coconut products. You may have tried coconut water, chips and milk and are thinking what else could be out there for the fruit? Here are a few more options to go coco.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is created by compressing the fruit; refined it’s usually flavorless and good for sautéing. The unrefined version is best for baking foods due to it’s stronger flavor that has almost a nut-like quality. Like stated previously, coconut oil contains 12-grams of saturated, 5 more grams then butter, so use sparingly and not in high fat dishes.
2. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is gluten-free and higher in protein and fiber compared to its wheat counterpart. This makes it very absorbent and unfortunately a poor substitute for baking. Instead of using it as a complete sub for wheat flour, replace up to one-fourth of the flour in a recipe and up the liquid by 20-percent.
3. Coconut Sugar
With a brown sugary sweet taste laced with coffee undertones, coconut sugar has become a popular sweetener alternative. It’s especially sought after due to its unrefined in bleached natural state. Calorically, coconut sugar is similar to regular sugar. However, it has been shown to cause lower spikes in the glycemic index upon consumption making it a better choice. Treat it just as you would real sugar though and use it in a 1×1 ratio when adding it into food.