Coconut - A Potential Super Food Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 October 2017 00:00

Coconut is one of those foods that have been used for its beauty and competent creativity, rather than its richness in nutrition. Suddenly, coconut is back in style as a potential super food. Health experts have been analyzing the abundant health benefits of coconut; meanwhile one expert mentions that there are very few people, if anyone, looking at coconut health effects. Rather, much of the research on health benefits of coconut comes from India, a country that dominates the production of coconut food products- potentially tainting research results. What is known about coconut is that-in moderation- they offer a healthier type of saturated fat and fiber for your diet, and nutrients such as iron, potassium, selenium, choline, phosphorus, and niacin.

Here are more pros and cons:

Coconut Meat for Fiber

“Coconut is a good source of fiber,” says Joannie Dobbs, PhD, CNS, an assistant specialist for food composition and health education in the department of human nutrition, food, and animal sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. But she also cautions that it can act as a laxative if you eat too much. Perhaps more alarming, coconut is high in saturated fat- packing 29.7 grams of saturated fat and 354 calories per 3-ounce serving.

Coconut and Water Potassium

Truth is, health claims attached to coconut water might not actually hold water. One manufacturer, Vita Coco, recently settled a class-action lawsuit that challenged the health claims the company made about its products- the product is not as “super hydrating,” as it claims to be too low in sodium as a beverage for long-endurance sports. So while coconut water may taste good, refresh you, and even provide some added potassium, there’s no clinically proven health benefit to drinking it.

Coconut Milk as a Dairy Substitute

Coconut milk is a staple ingredient for curries and soups from India and Thailand and is used in rice and beans in Belize and most parts of the Caribbean. If you’re lactose-intolerant and enjoy the flavor of coconut, you might consider using the milk in place of dairy in some recipes. But, this lowers iron bioavailability, meaning your body might not be able to get the iron out of the foods that you eat along with the milk. On the other hand, studies have shown that vegetables rich in vitamin A, such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, yield more vitamin A when eaten in a curry made with coconut milk.

Coconut Oil as a Dairy Fat Stand-in

Coconut oil enjoys perhaps the most storied past of all coconut products. Several decades ago, a highly processed, scentless, and flavorless coconut oil, also called copra oil, came onto the market. Researchers ultimately showed that it contributed to unhealthy cholesterol in lab animals. Today, you can find virgin coconut oil, which is believed to be processed more gently, therefore preserving the heart-healthy fats associated with coconut.