Monday

Coco-nutz

Are we being coco -nuts for Coconuts?



Coconut is one of those foods that seems to ping-pong between the 'good food' and 'bad food' list, and if you're confused about this, don't worry – even the experts can't quite agree.
First of all we need to distinguish between the water, oil, milk and flesh. Although coming from a coconut the four are all very different.

 Coconut Water...
Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young, green coconuts.
Low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, more potassium than four bananas, and super hydrating - these are just a few of the many benefits ascribed to Australia's latest health craze: coconut water.
Dubbed "Mother Nature’s sports drink" by marketers, the demand is skyrocketing, propelled by celebrity and athlete endorsements and promises to hydrate the body and help with a whole host of conditions, from hangovers to cancer and kidney stones.
But is coconut water capable of delivering on all the promises or is it hype?
Simply put yes!! it is absolutely a great drink however it should be used complementary to water for hydration not supplementary!!
Its gluten and allergy free and Nutritionally it has a great molecular composition of both our macro and micro nutrients:
Ounce per ounce (30ml), most unflavoured coconut water contains 23 kJ, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which has 26.5 kJ, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium.
So as you can see it’s a great drink however be mindful not to overdo it as the calorie count can still add up quickly.
In the end a better choice than most pre-packaged beverages but still in superior to water.
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If we work inside to out next is coconut milk or cream: 

Coconut milk/cream (were going to use the word milk form now on) is derived from the flesh of the coconut. It is not the liquid that can be drained out from a coconut that has been punctured, although many people assume this. Getting coconut milk from a coconut requires some processing, but the ingredient is also available in cans or bottles. 
Coconut milk is used in cuisines & tropical cocktails (did someone say piƱa colada) in a a number of countries, form India to Indonesia but does that mean its a healthy option?  

Coconut milk is immensely rich in vitamins and minerals. Coconut milk contains high levels of some of the crucial minerals like, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains a significant amount of vitamin C and E. One cup of coconut milk contains 13g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 5g protein and 57g fats, mainly saturated fats. One cup of coconut milk can provide about 552 calories, which means that coconut milk is high in calories and hence, should be consumed in small amounts.

The fat content of coconut milk is also very high, which too highlights the importance of taking it only in small amounts. Apart from these, one cup of coconut milk also contains about 6.7 mg vitamin C, 0.4 mg vitamin E, 0.2 mcg vitamin K, 1.8 mg niacin, 38.4 mcg folate, 0.1 mg vitamin B6 and 0.1 mg thiamine. The same amount of coconut milk can give about 38.4 mg calcium, 3.8 mg iron, 88.8 mg magnesium, 631 mg potassium, 240 mg phosphorus, 1.6 mg zinc, 2.2 mg manganese, 0.6 mg copper and 14.9 mcg selenium.

Lastly and possibly the most controversial Coconut Oil.

Coconut oil is an edible oil, like olive or macadamia oil, extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts. The confusion starts because of the differences between the use of coconut oil in cooking, and the use of coconut milk or coconut flesh. Both the American Heart Association and the National Heart Foundation recommend avoiding the use of coconut oil for cooking, but both their websites include recipes that contain coconut milk, albeit a reduced-fat version.
Despite the fuzzy perception that all things plant must be better for us, oil made from coconuts actually contains a whopping 90+ per cent saturated fat. Saturated fats, usually the dominant type in animal foods, are generally regarded as the baddies when it comes to heart disease.
Even reduced-fat coconut milk contains about 10 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, compared to about 2.3 grams per 100 ml in reduced-fat cow's milk.
There are a number of websites claiming that the saturated fats in coconut oil are different to the saturated fats we're told to avoid in animal products. They also claim that coconut will help you lose weight, prevent wrinkles, treat serious illness, and, well, change your life.

All saturated fats are not equal
It's true that saturated fats differ from each other chemically – depending on the number of carbon atoms they carry – and different foods have varying concentrations of the different saturated fatty acids. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of the lauric acid and myristic acid, with lesser amounts of palmitic acid, whereas chocolate and beef are dominated by palmitic acid.
There's no doubt that all the fatty acids in coconut oil raise cholesterol, but the more important question is what kind of cholesterol do they raise – is it the bad LDL cholesterol, or the good HDL cholesterol?
The research isn't entirely clear on this point, but it seems the fatty acids found in coconut oil do raise LDL – bad cholesterol – as do other saturated fats, like butter.
But coconut may also raise HDL cholesterol – good cholesterol – to some extent, though not as much as unsaturated fats (the good fats).
So it's fair to say if you suddenly swap your olive oil for coconut oil, it's not going to do your cholesterol levels any favours and in particular, your levels of bad cholesterol will go up.

So how do you decide what is better for you?

If you have an extremely healthy diet with little sources of trans and saturated fats then using coconut oil in your cooking won’t cause harm; after all some amount of saturated fat in the diet is okay. However the problems arise when the general population begin to consume coconut oil in large amounts adding to the already over consumed saturated fat in their diet all because they heard someone talking about the new wonderkid ‘coconut oil’ over the aisle in Thomas dux.

So here are your pro’s and cons…

Pros: 
1. It is cholesterol free and very low in trans fats and although it is 92% saturated fat, the highest of any type of fat, the fact it is not animal fat may give it some health benefits over other forms of saturated fat - however research is yet to confirm this.
2. Coconut oil has an unusual blend of short and medium chain fatty acids not seen in other saturated fats which may offer some health benefit - however research is yet to confirm this.
3. It has many uses from cooking to using on your skin and in your hair to diesel fuel for tractors.

Cons: 
1. The fact it is so high in saturated fat needs to be considered in the context of a Western diet. 
- While much of Asia uses coconut in many forms, coconut is/was one of only a few sources of saturated fat.
- Traditionally they don't tuck into cheese, butter, chocolate, big steaks, bacon or fast food just to name a few common sources of saturated fat in the Western diet. 
- Day to day physical activity levels is/was also a lot higher (ever seen one of those guys scale a coconut palm?)
2. Coconut oil is just as high in calories as regular oil or butter (all fats are the same) and contains no vitamins or minerals.
3. It is expensive! At around twice the price of olive oil it hasn't yet been shown to offer health benefits greater than extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has proven heart health benefits, evidence for coconut oil is limited.