Cracking the Coconut – Why You Should Be Eating More of Them

Bantering back and forth on Facebook yesterday, I had a message from my friend, Bob, a former grad school classmate who always knew how to make me laugh with his sarcastic and witty sense of humor. Seventeen years later, he hasn’t lost his touch. When my friend Karrie answered my question for Bob about what Ezekiel bread is, he responded:

Thank you for shedding the light on Ezekiel bread, Karrie. Now please tell Melinda why I’m now drinking some coconut water with protein powder after a workout (since I’m not quite sure why myself).

The health benefits of coconut

So why should Bob be drinking coconut water? There’s been a lot of talk lately about all the benefits of coconut – in a variety of forms – so I thought I’d share some of what I have learned.

I won’t bore you with the entire list, but on the Coconut Research Center’s web site (yes, there really is an organization dedicated to coconut), the following  benefits were listed.

  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.

Seriously, these were only the highlights. The list contains 52 items! I’d start stuffing myself with coconut for the last bulleted reason alone!

The healthiest oil on earth

In addition to all the magnificent benefits listed above, coconut oil is touted as the healthiest oil on earth. The coconut folks suggest that coconut oil is a fat that can make us thin. Not only does it contain fewer calories than other types of fat, but it contains medium chain triglycerides which are smaller in size and digest more quickly. But others vouch for this oil as well. Organic Facts, for example, suggests a range of health benefits that includes hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength.

It’s the New “It” Food

Here are even more reasons why we should consume more coconut.

  • It’s great for hydration In regards to Bob’s drink of choice, coconut water contains more potassium than a banana and has only 60 calories, beating artificial sports drinks for healthy replenishment and hydration. Kelly calls it nature’s sport drink.
  • It’s a smart fuel Mark touts the health benefits — high in healthy saturated fat, with decent amounts of protein and a low glycemic index – and suggests using coconut as a binder for energy bars. He also thinks it’s a good idea to crack open a coconut and drain your own water (and shows how to do so in this post).
  • It’s delicious, too Not only does Fitness and Spout reiterate all the ways coconut oil can give your body a boost but it boasts about its delicious taste, too. Joanna makes hot coco (deliberate pun) and enjoys the entire line of So Delicious milk, creamers, ice-cream, etc.
  • And you don’t need a cow for your milk Meghan’s site includes a video for how to make your own coconut milk, if you have the time to do so.

Eat it up!

  • Macaroons: Since no one in my family will touch shredded coconut, I have to savor macaroons all by myself. There isn’t a better macaroon on earth than those served at the Flying M coffeehouse in Boise, and one day I will convince them to give me the recipe and I promise to share when they do. Though this sweet treat does have sugar, it has no fat.
  • Curries: We also make easy Thai curry stir fries with contains coconut milk. I assemble ingredients for a regular stir fry, then add coconut milk, plenty of garlic, ginger and Thai curry paste. I made a Jamie Oliver recipe once (it takes a little longer than throwing in a teaspoon of store bought curry paste), and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.
  • Energy bars: The recipe for those Primal Energy bars can be found here.

If you have any more ideas and recipes, please post below.  Until then, go grab yourself a coconut.

Melinda Hinson