The summer is here, so are the summer and tropical fruits. Store shells are full with colorful variety of fruits and veggies. Preparing for an exam in health coaching during this time of the year was easy. I was able to boost my mood and energy with a whole rainbow of fruits including coconut. While munching on this refreshing slightly sweet fruit, I was thinking about the recent articles I had read about coconut’s health benefits.
So here I am, back to theWellnessCanvas with my latest thoughts and research on coconut.
There are many articles about the health benefits of coconut oil. However, there is still some confusion based on the high content of saturated fats in the coconut oil.
What is coconut?
Botanically coconut is not a nut, it is a drupe – a fruit that contains fleshly part and harder part with a kernel.
Coconut oil, water and milk
The coconut water is found inside the fruit when you crack it open. The younger the fruit, the higher its water content. Coconut water is low in calories and is one of the highest sources of electrolytes that are important to keep the body hydrated. Both coconut water and coconut flesh are rich in magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Potassium is known to be good for the proper heart function and muscle growth. Copper is important for normal metabolism and is also needed for the synthesis of hemoglobin and the production of red blood cells. The coconut water contains around 17 % DV manganese and the coconut meat around 60 % DV manganese. Manganese is crucial for the bone health, it also helps metabolic activity, regulates blood sugar level, supports proper functioning of the thyroid gland, helps you absorb calcium and other minerals.
Coconut milk is the flesh of the fruit blended with the water. In comparison with the water it contains more nutrients and calories.
Unlike other fruits coconut contains a large amount of saturated fat. It, however, contains medium chain fatty acids that are broken down faster than long chain fatty acids. This means that coconut fat is metabolized quickly and could help boost your metabolism and gives you energy. According to some research medium chain fatty acids could actually have beneficial effects on cholesterol in the body. In addition there is a research showing that virgin coconut oil has antioxidant properties.
The problem with the coconut oil is that not all coconut oils are created equal. Any type of oil that is hydrogenated or highly processed contains trans fat or chemically produced fat and is not healthy for your body. Coconut oil is not an exception. Choose pure cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil that is unrefined and is extracted from the mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals.
The same rule applies for all kind of oils. The biggest problem is not the fat itself but the way it is processed. Consume as less processed food as possible.
The flip side of the coin
Coconut has a lot of health benefits due to the minerals it contains. Health professionals, however, still argue about the health benefits of the saturated fat and medium-chain fatty acids in the coconut. All the studies are performed in the past few years and according to the critics more time is needed in order to gain credible and significant evidence of the impact on saturated fat on health.
Don’t follow extreme diet patterns. If you feel it, add some extra virgin coconut oil in your diet but don’t give up other options. The key is the variety 🙂