Coconut on wooden table. Organic healthy food concept.Beauty and SPA concept.

 
I must admit, I love coconut. Whether it’s on my skin or in a smoothie, coconut has become part of my daily ritual.

Coconuts are the large seed of the fruit of the coconut palm tree. Inside the hard outer shell is a layer of rich, white meat surrounding a hallow center filled with coconut water.

My daughters love drinking the water right from the coconut with a straw. Which is perfect on a hot, summer day, as coconut water is nature’s best sports drink for electrolyte balance and replenishment.

Coconuts are a saturated fat, the same “bad fat” found in animal foods. And yet, coconuts are actually a very healthy addition to a balanced diet.  So healthy that David Wolfe, raw foods guru, lists coconut as one of the top 10 superfoods in the world.

While it’s true that coconuts contain fat, it turns out that not all fat is created equal. Coconut is a healthy medium chain saturated fat. Medium chain fatty acids are metabolized and converted to energy quickly. They circulate the body less, and thus, are unlikely to end up in your fat stores.

In fact, this nutritional powerhouse supports weight loss, a healthy digestion, your immune system, skin, hair and more.
 

The health benefits of coconut include:

  • produces energy
  • maintains blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of meals which is helpful in weight loss
  • boosts metabolism (helpful in weight loss)
  • boosts immunity
  • anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal
  • inhibits the growth of yeasts like candida
  • converts beta carotene to vit A (difficult for some children, the elderly, & individuals with thyroid disorders)
  • regulates cholesterol (most notably increases good (HDL) cholesterol)
  • good for brain health (improves the body’s ability to use omega 3s)

Coconut is also an excellent moisturizer for the skin and hair. I love to keep a jar in my shower. Just lather it on after washing with soap and then rinse. As a deep conditioning treatment for your hair, brush in the oil and leave in for an hour before washing with shampoo. Coconut is my favorite solution for end-of-summer skin and hair.

 

Selecting and Storing Coconut:

When buying a coconut, young is best! Young coconuts have superior anti-aging properties in their meat. Coconut can be eaten simply. Remove the outer shell and enjoy the white “meat” and water.

If you are unable to find a whole coconut, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate coconut in your diet. Coconut water, yogurt and even ice cream can be purchased in most health food stores as an alternative to dairy (just read the ingredients being mindful of any added sugars).

 

Quick Prep Ideas:

There are many ways to use coconut in your kitchen. Here are some of my favorites:

Coconut milk is great in smoothies. Coconut can also be shredded, giving a nutritional boost to breakfast oatmeal and as an oil to replace butter in baked goods.

Finally, coconut oil is stable at high heat, making it a great alternative for high heat cooking (sauteing and stir-frying).

My popular dairy free milkshake, containing shredded coconut, is featured at Mind, Body, Green. Check it out there!

 
Your Simple Action Plan:

This week, what are some delicious ways you can work more coconut into your menu? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!