It is truly amazing how many substances and uses we can yield from one (not so simple) food: The Coconut. We can manipulate the nutrient-rich water and meat into: flakes, sugar, flour, milk, butter, oil, and so much more. Coconuts have been used for thousands of years as a dietary ingredient and topical treatment for skin--and today, not much has changed. We are a culture obsessed with the dairy-free, vitamin-rich contents of coconuts, so we're dishing on WHY each variation of it is so great:
- Coconut Water: Contains five essential electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium) the body needs to keep the digestive system functioning properly, adequate hydration throughout the day, and a steady blood pressure. Here are 7 ways to reap the benefits everyday.
- Coconut Milk: This is an amazing substitute for dairy milk in just about everything from coffee and smoothies to baking and soup. The milk is made by soaking the meat in hot water, blending, extracting liquid with a cheesecloth, and repeating until smooth and nutritious.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a super ingredient for so many reasons. Firstly, it's extracted fat from the dried meat of the coconuts. There are numerous variations of the oil (much like balsamic and olive oil) such as virgin and extra virgin, and many companies have different methods of extracting it. The oil is an incredible source of healthy saturated fats mostly including MCFAs, which are fats processed as energy instead of simple stored fat. It's been linked to increasing metabolism, assimilating the digestive process, improving brain function and strengthening the immune system. Some people enjoy one spoonful in the morning to get a boost of energy and metabolism, others add it to smoothies and cook with it in lieu of butter or other oils. The anti-microbial and anti-fungal benefits of the oil coupled with the high (healthy) fat content make it a miracle ingredient for topical skin and hair treatments. Here are 7 ways to use it in your beauty routine.
- Coconut Butter: Coconut butter has similar uses and benefits to coconut oil, but it's made with the fibrous shreds of the coconut meat, rather than solely the extracted fat. Therefore, it has more fiber and nutrients, and is a much thicker consistency. It's also an amazing way to get your daily dose of healthy fats, add it to smoothies or use it as a spreadable paste on toast and pancakes. (Try these coconut pancakes!)
- Coconut Sugar: Coconut sugar is often used as a low-glycemic sweetener in baking. It's made from the liquid sap of the coconut plant, which is collected and then placed under heat until most of the liquid has evaporated. There are more notable minerals in coconut sugar than regular table sugar, but it should still be used sparingly. You can also use it in your body scrubs for a great exfoliant!
- Coconut Flour: This is the paleo diet's favorite baking ingredient. It's the by-product of making coconut milk, made from the coconut pulp that gets set aside during the liquid extraction with the cheesecloth. It gets dried then ground into a powdery flour. It's higher in fiber and protein than regular flour, and is free from wheat. Be sure to look up the substitution from flour:coconut flour, the measurements are not created equal!
- Coconut Flakes: The flakes are simply the coconut meat shredded and baked (sometimes dehydrated). They're amazing to include in baked goods, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothie bowls and more.
There are many more ways to use coconut than listed here, but these are a few of our everyday favorites. Let us know how you add the super food to your life in the comments below!