Coconuts have become increasingly popular, lining the shelves of our grocery stores and enticing us with their exotic flavors. From coconut oil and coconut butter, to coconut ice cream and coconut chips, there is nothing tastier than this slightly sweet and creamy food. The good news is it's as healthy for you as it is satisfying to eat!
Coconuts are extremely versatile, providing similar texture and flavor to numerous go-to snack foods like potato chips and dried fruit. In its various forms, coconuts can easily replace dairy, wheat flour, refined sugar and even sports drinks, making the switch to coconuts an easy choice for a plant-based lifestyle. They also offer many health benefits, putting them on par with kale, cacao and acai berries.
So why are they so healthy? Coconuts have a meaty flesh that is composed of unique fats called medium chain triglycerides. MCTs are known to fight and protect against viruses, yeasts, bacteria, fungus, and even intestinal parasites. They work similarly to an antibiotic, and can help in an array of cases, especially in Candida overgrowth and HIV-AIDS patients. By simply adding coconut into the diet you can help strengthen immunity and support the clearance of any unwanted visitors, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria like Staph. The best part is that there are no unwanted side effects to worry about.
In addition to coconut's natural ability to protect against infection, coconut can also help to improve metabolism and enhance energy production, thus aiding in weight loss. This is one of its most juicy attributes, proving that eating fat can help to burn fat.
When the fatty acids of a coconut are eaten, they are quickly taken to the liver to be utilized for energy production. Rather than stored as fat, as other forms of dietary fats are (think trans fatty acids), they increase metabolism and reduce body fat instead. In fact, studies have also shown that they can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance, making coconut a great food for pre-diabetics, diabetics, and those with abnormal blood sugar levels.
One of the most promising benefits of eating coconut is its ability to protect the heart. In the past, it was thought that saturated fats, like those that come from coconuts, increase your risk of heart disease, however, recent research contradicts this claim. Not only do fats from coconuts not increase your risk, they are found to be quite protective. They can lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low-density lipoproteins (the bad cholesterol), while raising high-density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol). This helps to protect against the process of atherosclerosis, and decrease the risk of a heart attack.
Now that we know why coconuts should be on our weekly shopping list, let's discuss how we can incorporate them easily into our diet. My personal favorite, and most recent food addiction is coconut chips. They are simply dried pieces of the coconut flesh that are crunchy and naturally sweet. Coconut chips are the best snack to replace nutrient-deprived pretzels and chips, and they go great in trail mix, and on top of a smoothie or breakfast bowl. And if you have a sweet tooth, swap them for sprinkles on top of your favorite flavor of coconut ice cream, or use them to top off this decadent raw Coconut Banana Tart! You can find many more delicious coconut recipes on the Navitas website coconut recipe pages.