Coconut is the triple threat; it’s a fruit, a seed and a nut. This makes its many benefits and purposes even more intriguing and nutritious! When I see and smell coconut, I’m instantly transported to the sandy beaches of Hawaii because this nutrient-dense, rich in healthy saturated fat food is born in the tropics — but you can find coconut at just about every grocery store you walk into. Ok, so that’s not new information. But do you know all the varieties that the copious coconut comes in and all the culinary ways you can incorporate it into your meals? Shredded, raw coconut makes a great topping and snack, but there are many other ways to get the benefits of coconut daily. Here are a few of my favorite options.
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water is an athlete’s number one hydration fix after a sweat. We lose our bodies natural sodium and other trace minerals during intense workouts and replenishing with not just water but also vital electrolytes helps your muscles and mind recover. Plus, coconut and its natural sugar is a perfect alternative if you’re trying to cut back on sugary beverages that are found in lots of sports drinks.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconuts contain the MCT fats (medium chain triglycerides). If you’re a coffee connoisseur, as well as a workout buff, this term MCT, may be familiar sounding. Oil+ Caffeine= Metabolism Energy Boost! The theory is that these oils burn more fat and reduce fat storage. Fat happens to be an optimal macronutrient ingested before your workout that fuels your body, increases metabolism and supports your immune health. But wait, there’s another star of this oil: lauric acid. A particular kind of good fat that has anti-bacterial benefits to protect your gut.
3. Coconut Flour
Here’s some good news if you have food allergies and sensitivities: Coconut flour is gluten-free and low on the glycemic scale. Produced from the coconut meat, it’s super high in fiber which will leave you happy, full, and satiated. This flour vs. a grain derived choice is also lower in carbs and higher in protein.
4. Coconut Milk & Dairy Alternatives:
Coconut milk is rich in B vitamins and even calcium. Since coconut isn’t going to provide the same protein a cow’s milk, I suggest adding coconut milk to a protein smoothie. Coconut yogurt is a great base for a creamy salad dressing or aioli spread for a sandwich or wrap. Add some to a smoothie for that milkshake consistency. Coconut cream is made from the meat and simply put, is, finger licking good! Perfect to add as a thickener to soups and when whipped coconut cream is just as velvety and fluffy as a traditional topping. Wellness thrives on variety, so switch it up once in a while.