The Versatile Coconut

by in Uncategorized, July 14, 2012

coconut
For many people, coconuts conjure up an image of a tropical island vacation but this versatile fruit has far more benefits and applications than flavoring  a piña coladas. Coconuts have been studied for their antimicrobial, antiviral and immune boosting properties due to the medium chain fatty acids, lauric acid and capric acid, found in them. Fresh coconuts can be found whole in many grocery stores and ethnic markets. Coconut has been getting quite a bit of buzz lately and you may have seen a wide variety of coconut products available at your grocery store.  Have you been wondering what are they and if they’re good for you?  Well I did too, and here is the scoop.

Coconut water is the thin, slightly opaque liquid found inside freshly cracked coconuts. One cup of coconut water has 46 calories and is a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. Opt for an unsweetened version; the added sugars and flavors make a good thing less healthy really quickly.

Coconut milk is a creamy, non-dairy alternative made by processing coconut meat with water. Again, unsweetened is best.  Coconut milk is used in many non-dairy ice creams as well and let me tell you, it is tasty!

Cream of  coconut is made using the same method as coconut milk and varies in consistency from a thick liquid to a spreadable semi-solid.

Coconut oil is a cholesterol-free saturated fat that can be used in both baking and cooking. It has a relatively high smoke point and is a solid at room temperature. Coconut oil may help raise HDL levels but because it is a fat, it should be used sparingly and within daily caloric and fat requirements.

Coconut flour is a gluten-free alternative made by grinding coconut meat into a fine powder.

Coconut sugar is available as a paste, a syrup or nectar, a dry block and granules. It is made by boiling the sap of coconut flowers and has a glycemic index score of 35 (similar to honey) which is less than sugar.  The less it is processed and refined the better it is for you.

If you have yourself a whole, fresh coconut, take a look at Food Network Magazine’s step-by-step guide on how to break it down. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can drink the coconut water right from the coconut with the magazine’s instructions.

What is your favorite use for coconut?

Here are a few recipes we love:

Thai Style Halibut With Coconut Curry Broth

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Indian Summer Stew:  Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil

Coconut Water Smoothie

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Comments (3,212)

  1. Carol says:

    Coconut oil, while it has no cholesterol, is a very highly saturated oil. The tropical oils, coconut oil and palm oil are the most dangerous plant-based oils.

  2. Spiffyrilla says:

    Coconut oil is challenged on two fronts. First is the erroneous belief that all dietary fat becomes body fat—not all “fat in” equals “fat on.” Second is that it’s a saturated fat like the fat in beef, cheese, eggs and butter. “Saturated fatty acids tend to raise levels of LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) in the blood. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with heart disease,” an FDA spokesman reminds us.

    True enough, but studies increasingly indicate that a heart-healthy diet does not exclude saturated fat; rather, an appropriate balance of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is best. Only a mixed-fat diet promotes a healthful ratio of LDL to HDL—the “good” cholesterol—and lowers the risk of heart disease..

    Processed or “partially hydrogenated” coconut oil is unhealthy.

    One thing both sides agree on is that when coconut oil is hydrogenated it becomes a trans fat, and trans fats are bad news. Trans fats have been closely associated with heart disease because they not only increase LDL cholesterol but impede the body’s ability to utilize HDL.

    Unless you are cooking with virgin coconut oil, the only coconut oil in your diet may be hydrogenated, since that’s the form it takes in snack foods and nondairy creamers.

  3. [...] View the original article here [...]

  4. Onita Geen says:

    The tall ones are about 11 3/4 approximately in height.. The short ones are about 7 3/4 approximately in height.. . Hope this helps! I have the Chocolate ones and they are Incredible and match anything!

  5. Michael says:

    One of my favourite fruits. Everything coconut-flavoured tastes nice, especially ice cream. I just wish there were more 'flesh' on the average coconut… And they're such a pain to eat!

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