Coconut Food Products for Health
Nearly one-third of the world’s population depends on it as a food source, which supplies coconut meat, coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil. The coconut meat inside the fruit is fleshy and white, while the coconut water is sweet and clear. Coconut milk and oil are extracted from mature coconut meat and has many uses in cooking, medicinal, personal, and industrial applications.
Coconut oil contains 87% saturated fat from lauric acid, which was believed to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. However, some experts disagree, and believe that it also increases HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which, when compared to long chain fatty acids that are found in many fats and oils in the diet, are more easily digested, absorbed and oxidized in the liver, so they are deposited as fat to a lesser degree. Many culinary experts prefer to use coconut oil for cooking and baking because it is cheaper, tastier, and solid at room temperature, making it a great ingredient for packaged foods.
Coconut milk is extracted from coconut meat and water, which produces a rich and thick cream that packs 445 calories and 48 grams of fat per cup. However, one can opt for “lite” coconut milk which contains about two-thirds the fat and calories with the same flavor.
Coconut water is becoming popular as a “natural” sports drink because of its great flavor and rich potassium content, an electrolyte that is lost through sweat.
For cooking and baking, one can use prepackaged dried flaked or shredded coconut. One can also use coconut flour as a healthy way to add coconut flavor to baked goods, which provided 5 grams of fiber per two tablespoons. It lowers the glycemic index (a measure of the rate that a food increases blood sugar) and reduces one’s risk for diabetes.
Ansel, K. The health benefits of coconut. MSN.