Unknown Health Benefits of Coconut

The coconut, the seed of a palm tree that grows mostly in tropical coastal areas, yields numerous food and nonfood products. The oil is used in vegetable shortening, nondairy creamers, some spreads, and many commercial baked goods, it is also an ingredient in shampoos, moisturizing lotions, soaps, and various cosmetics. Creamy coconut meat is eaten raw or used to flavor ice cream, confectionery products, and baked goods. Canned coconut milk, made from the grated meat and water, is used in curries. Coconut water, the liquid found inside young coconuts before they mature, has become a popular alternative to sports drinks; unlike other coconut products, it’s low in calories, contains no fat, and is rich in potassium.

Health Benefits

Help’s reduce risk of heart disease

Coconut water contains potassium, an essential mineral that ensures proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs, and helps decrease health risks associated with high blood pressure. In populations where coconut oil is commonly eaten, heart disease is not common.

Satisfies cravings

A half cup of coconut meat has about 3.5g of fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer.

Aids digestion

The fatty acids in coconut milk and coconuts are easily processed by the body.

Promotes weight loss

In a 2009study, coconut oil was shown to decrease waist circumference and improve the ratio of “bad” LDL to “good” HDL cholesterol. Coconut oil definitely isn’t a low-fat food (1Tbsp contains 117calories and 13.6g of fat), but its “medium chain” fatty acids are touted for—remarkably—weight loss.

Researchers believe coconut oil may create diet-induced thermogenesis, increasing your body heat and burning calories.

Health Risk

Saturated fat. More than 90% of the fatty acids in coconuts are classified as saturated; remarkably, coconut oil is more highly saturated than the fat in butter or red meat. This high level of saturation results in an oil that resists turning rancid, making coconut oil ideal for commercial baking. However, it is a notable nutritional drawback, as saturated fats tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. In light of this, people who have elevated cholesterol levels or any other cardiovascular risk factors are typically advised to avoid products made with coconut oil.

Eating Tips

  • Sprinkle toasted unsweetened coconut

over pureed squash soup.

  • Shave raw coconut over fruit salads.
  • Add shredded fresh coconut to spring roll filling.

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