The coconut. That hairy brown fruit borne of the ‘tree of life’ coconut palm in sunny, tropical climes, epitomising paradisaical island life, is now readily available over here in many forms; water, juice, sugar, oils, even in tablet form. Celebrities and health and lifestyle magazines are heralding it as the latest superfood. But does eating coconut (rather than drinking rum from it) actually have any health benefits?
Coconut oil is now the fashionable alternative to vegetable oils and even used as moisturiser for normal to medium-dry skin. I’ve tried this and it soaks in quickly and smells delectable!
Though it is high in saturated fat content it is thought it could also be less harmful to health as it contains Lauric acid and Myristic acid which are said to have antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal functions. Apparently, multiple studies undertaken on Pacific Islanders, who use fully-saturated coconut oil a lot in their diet, have all shown nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease.
For the lactose-intolerant and even the tolerant, these coconut yoghurts are a yummy alternative to cow’s milk varieties. Remember, coconut is much higher in fat than both natural dairy yoghurt and soya yoghurts, though it is also much lower in carbohydrates and those of us who follow the diet trends will know that recent research has shown that fat ain’t all that bad and in fact, a diet higher in fat than carbohydrate can aid weight loss. Don’t forget that the flavoured varieties are sugar- packed in order to give that sweeter taste!
Coconut juice is being sold as a hydrating fluid and we love it because it has less sugar than fruit juices and is packed with minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. But remember coconut water also has calories, whereas water, from the tap or bottle, doesn’t and is just has hydrating.
Coconut sugar has a lower GI than granulated sugar, so is fantastic for home-baking. Be warned though, it still is a healthier alternative, but also has roughly the same calories per gram.