In the past, when one thought of the word coconut, it conjured images of tropical, far off places. Even thinking of the smell of coconut, you might associate it with sunscreen or a favorite cocktail. But today, coconut is more accessible than ever. We’re finding it on our grocery store shelves, at your favorite restaurants, and mentioned in new recipes in our monthly magazines. This new obsession with coconut has nothing to do with tropical vacations. Instead, there’s a huge buzz about coconuts because of the amazing health benefits that come from this fruit. Below you’ll discover not only the health benefits of coconuts, but also four easy and accessible forms of coconut: Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk, Coconut Water, and Coconut Flour. By the time you’re finished reading this, there’s a good chance you’ll be cuckoo for coconuts too!
Coconut Oil: This form of coconut has recently become quite popular, and is probably the form of coconut that has piqued your interest the most. At room temperature, coconut oil is a solid, and you’ll find it in a jar or tub near other cooking oils in your grocery store. It’s used for cooking, like one might use olive oil (coconut oil becomes a liquid as it is heated), and in baking to replace butter and other oils. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it is favored over butter and oils that contain hydrogenated trans fats because it is cholesterol free. Scientists also think that there are more health benefits in coconut oil that have yet to be discovered.
Coconut Milk: Brewing coconut meat and water is what yields coconut milk. It’s rich and thick, almost like a cream. Although it is high in fat, lighter versions are available and just as flavorful, and cut out two-thirds of the fat and calories. However, the unique fatty acids in coconut milk may actually provide health benefits like aiding weight loss, improving immune function, reducing heart disease and improving skin and hair health.
Coconut Water: You’ve probably been hearing about coconut water for while now. It’s a favorite among those who exercise because it is a great hydrator and has been nicknamed “the natural sports drink.” A 1 cup serving provides more than 10 percent of your daily dose of potassium, an electrolyte you lose through sweat. You can find coconut water in the refrigerated section or near shelf-stable waters and other natural fruit juices in your grocery store. Although coconut water can be enjoyed on its own (many people prefer it chilled), it is a great replacement for water or juice in your favorite smoothie.
Coconut Flour: This form of coconut is probably the one with which you’re least familiar, but could provide the health benefits that you might be most seeking. Available near other gluten-free flours, coconut flour is a healthy way to add rich coconut flavor to your baked goods. Besides being gluten free, coconut flour provides 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons and is low in saturated fat. Adding coconut flour to baked goods also lowers the glycemic index, which makes it an ideal ingredient for diabetics and those following a pre-diabetic diet.
The various forms of coconut make it an option that everyone can consider. Once you try one of these coconut-derived ingredients, you’re likely to want to experiment with the other forms of coconut. Before long, you’ll be enjoying all the health benefits coconut has to offer. And then you’ll truly know what it’s like to be cuckoo for coconut!