Cuckoo for Coconuts
Island cultures have been consuming coconuts for centuries. Many cite healing and life-giving properties to the fruit-bearing palm, which is why it is often called the
“Tree of Life.”
The coconut is rich in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), which we now know the body processes differently than other saturated fats. MCFAs promote weight maintenance without raising cholesterol levels. Let's take a closer look into the increasing popularity of coconut water, milk and oil to see what the coconut craze is all about.
Not to be confused with the far richer coconut milk, coconut water is a clear liquid extracted from very young (green) coconuts.
Guzzled by celebs, coconut water is considered the health drink of the moment and is being promoted as the “natural” sports drink. Why? Coconut water contains water for rehydration, carbohydrates in the form of sugar for energy and electrolytes to replace what's lost through sweat.
Compared to popular sports drinks, coconut water seems like the healthier choice.
Bottom Line: The recommendation is to hydrate with water and getting nutrients like sodium and potassium from foods such as bananas and almond butter. Unless you're doing extreme sports you probably don't need a sports drink. If you do choose a sports drink, coconut water might be the way to go.
Per ounce Gatorade
6.25 calories, 1.75 grams sugar, 3.75 mg potassium, 13.75 mg sodium
Zico Coconut Water
5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 mg potassium, 5.45 mg sodium
The medical claims such as its ability to control diabetes, fight viruses, speed metabolism, treat kidney stones, stop dandruff or prevent cancer are unsubstantiated.
Coconut milk is the water that comes from the grated meat of a coconut.
Don't confuse coconut milk with cream of coconut, which is thicker and used in Piña Coladas or desserts. We're talking about the thin version used as a milk alternative.
Cow-free milk is no passing trend. In fact, the milk-alternatives market grew 12.5 percent last year*. Perhaps, that’s why coconut milk is gaining notoriety among the press.
Coconut milk is packed with calcium and Vitamin D, low in calories and rich in MCFAs. Although research is limited, some recent studies have suggested that coconut milk has the ability to balance lipoproteins used to determine cholesterol levels and possesses antimicrobial properties for the gastrointestinal tract.
Per cup 2% milk: 122 cal, 5 g fat (3 g sat), 11 g carbs, 100 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein
Per Cup unsweetened coconut milk: 45 cal, 5 g fat (4 g sat), 1 g carbs, 15 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0.4 g protein
Bottom Line: Bottoms up - drinking unsweetened coconut milk tastes delicious, is an excellent alternative to milk and is lower in calories. Because coconut milk nutrition facts are still under investigation, the real effects on the body may be dependent on your overall diet.
Coconut oil is edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm.
Even though the oil consists of MCFAs, coconut oil remains a subject of controversy. Here’s what we do know about Virgin Coconut Oil:
- It is very heat-stable and will not break down with higher cooking temperatures.
- It doesn't make food taste like coconut.
- It is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years due to the high saturated fat content.
Don't mistake virgin coconut oil for the partially hydrogenated variant found in packaged goods; the latter has been chemically altered to contain trans fats.
Bottom Line: There is simply not enough evidence to substantiate any sweeping claims for coconut oil. Used in moderation and in its virgin, unprocessed form, coconut oil may ultimately be revealed as a harmless, neutral food.
*Beverage Marketing Corporation