Coconut is shaping up to be one of 2011’s hottest ingredients in snacks, baked goods and beverages. From coconut water for quenching thirst to coconut oil for cooking and bacon, coconut is a very nutritious food that delivers numerous health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, coconut is classified as a “functional food” and according to The Coconut Research Center, some cultures believe it to possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil.
Coconut is a familiar flavor for many of us in indulgent treats like candy bars and pina coladas, but there are plenty of alternate ways to eat and cook with coconut in that won’t break the calorie bank. Look for coconut in the grocery store in various forms and think outside the box when you’re preparing it.
The savvy consumer knows that coconut water claiming to be “100 percent natural” doesn’t mean much, because the “natural” label is in no way regulated or standardized. But O.N.E. Coconut Water is raising the bar by becoming the first major brand of coconut water to become certified USDA organic. The ingredient list is short and sweet: coconut water. Not added sugars, acids or flavors. “Becoming 100% certified organic was a goal we were excited to move towards and now achieve,” said the company’s founder and CEO Rodrigo Veloso in a press release.
Coconut water has been recently touted as a healthier alternative to sports drinks, particularly as a source of electrolytes. So, I put O.N.E to a taste test and it proved to be a lightly sweet yet refreshing drink. I’ve tried Zico coconut water before and found it less enjoyable, but I have to confess I expected it to taste more like coconut milk, which is something many people experience when trying coconut water for the first time.
Move over Gatorade and Vitamin Water. There is competition in the beverage case and the Material Girl is one of the first to hop on the newest hydration bandwagon of coconut water.
Coconut water is a wildly popular new drink that has recently hit stores all across the country like Whole Foods and other national grocery store chains.
The New York Post just reported that Madonna is investing $1.5 million in one of the largest coconut water manufacturers in the country, Vita Coco. Other celebrities like actor Matthew McConaughey and singer Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are also rumored to soon be lending their cash to help make coconut water more mainstream.
And it’s no wonder. Coconut water is quick becoming a favorite among yoga practitioners, fitness enthusiasts and those just looking for a nutritious way to stay hydrated.
It’s that time of year, particularly for those in the colder northern climates, when people dream about relaxing on the beach on some remote tropical island with a fruity cocktail in hand. One of the more popular images is of drinking from an open coconut on the patio of a beachfront hotel.
If you have ever opened a fresh coconut, what you saw was a thin, opaque liquid that has a slight almond flavor. Coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, is the clear liquid inside young (green) coconuts.
As the coconut matures, the coconut water is gradually replaced by the coconut meat. Coconut water is consumed fresh, because once it’s exposed to air, the liquid rapidly loses most of its nutritional value, and begins to ferment. (more…)
Melissa Spiesman, CHHC, AADP, is the Featured Guest Blogger at DietsInReview.com for September. She is the director of Nutrition for Your Life, a nutrition program that focuses on health and wellness through whole foods. Melissa develops individual integrative nutrition plans that focus on the total health of her clients. In her private practice, she regularly counsels individuals and groups on a variety of health/nutrition issues, including: cravings, weight loss and management, healthy food preparation, coping with stress, and having more energy.
Melissa received her professional training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
Melissa is a featured contributor of girlawhirl.com. Girlawhirl.com is an online magazine for busy women. It’s updated every weekday with the latest fashion and beauty news, home decorating, nutrition, fitness advice and more.
The science of nutrition is relatively young, and there seems to be an ongoing stream of contradictory data – what is good for us and what is not so good. One area where we are continually faced with conflicting information is the area of fats; we learned that saturated fat could have harmful effects on our health. Big businesses campaigned against saturated fats and there was a rise in the promotion of margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. We tried to eliminate saturated fat products from our diets.
But now, as with many things in our lives, everything old is new again and the latest re-entry is coconuts. Nutrient dense coconuts (milk, meat, water and oil) are now being classified as a functional food. Research shows that the fat in coconut oil is different from most other saturated fats, as it is made up of medium chain fatty acids that are easily converted into energy, not stored as fat, and has no cholesterol.
Studies have been conducted on the health of people who live in tropical climates and whose main staple of their diets is coconut. It has been found that they do not suffer from any of the heart disease and cholesterol problems associated with saturated fats and they are benefiting from many of the coconut’s health promoting properties.
Coconut oil has the largest concentration of lauric acid, outside of human breast milk. Some of the oil’s health benefits include but are not limited to: immune system support, heart health, protection from certain cancers, known to be an anti-viral and anti-bacterial, supports thyroid function, and assists in menopause and diabetes care. Because it is burned easily for energy, it can boost metabolism and has been successfully used in weight loss programs. Additionally, coconut oil is shelf stable, resistant to rancidity, and can withstand very high cooking temperatures.
In an effort to re-educate consumers and uncover the truth, there are many books on the benefits of coconut oils as well as books dedicated not only to educating but demonstrating ways to include coconut products as an addition to a healthy diet. Coconut has been showing up in many new food products. Girlawahirl especially loves Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream and has been enjoying coconut water.
Those who are health conscious and willing to learn about and explore new foods and trends will be able to see the positive health benefits of coconut oil and once again enjoy the rich, creamy texture and smooth unique flavor it imparts on our food and drink.
As it is difficult to keep up with the latest nutrition recommendations, I still believe that everything is healthy in moderation.
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