Coconut has been a popular buzzword used in the media lately. Many nutritional sources and celebrity clients have been boasting about its nutritional benefits, and several of my clients have recently asked for some clarification.
Coconut may contain as much saturated fat as butter, but recent studies have shown it has a beneficial effect on the immune system and cardiovascular health. More than 50 percent of the saturated fat comes from lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, also known as glycerol mono laureate, a 12-carbon long fatty acid that has been shown to have anti-microbrial properties. Lauric acid increases the amount of LDL cholesterol (think deadly/bad cholesterol), but it also increases the amount of HDL cholesterol (think healthy/good cholesterol) even more. An increase in HDL cholesterol decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease episodes. The remainder of the saturated fats in coconut are medium chain fatty acids, which have little to no effect on cholesterol. Several studies have even shown medium fatty acids to boost metabolism and help the body to use fats as energy, as opposed to storing it for later use, resulting in a more efficient use of fat as fuel, and a leaner body.
Coconut water is good to use in kidney and urinary bladder problems that can be common in women as well as in individuals detoxing, as these are major organs of filtration and elimination. Coconut water comes from the juice inside young coconuts. If left to mature, this juice will become coconut milk. Coconut water contains bio-active enzymes such as acid phosphatase and dehydrogenase, which aid in digestion and metabolism. Coconut water has a higher amount of minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, in comparison to other fruits. Coconut water is also a good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine and folates. Coconut water contains 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C per 1-cup serving. Coconut water has recently received attention for its ability to rehydrate after exercise better than sugary sports drinks. This is in part due to the electrolyte balance between potassium and sodium. There are 250 mg of potassium and 105 mg of sodium in a 100 mL serving of coconut water, which assists in replacing salts lost in exercise. There is also 1.7 g of protein in a 1 cup serving.
Coconut milk has been shown to help in cases of sore throat and the relief of stomach ulcers. One cup of coconut milk contains 38.4 mg of calcium, 89 mg of magnesium, 631 mg of potassium and 240 mg of phosphorus. Coconut milk also contains zinc, copper, manganese, iron, selenium, moderate amounts of vitamin c and e, and the B vitamins thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid and frolic acid. Coconut milk contains the amino acids arginine and cystine, which are helpful in detoxification and oxidative stress. Coconut milk also contains lauric acid and fats.
After a coconut has been cracked, the meat can be stored for up to five weeks when wrapped tightly and placed in the refrigerator. Fresh coconut milk and water can be stored for two days when placed in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated. I prefer to use mason jars with rubber seals. Store-bought coconut milk and water can be stored for up to five days in a sealed container. I recommend purchasing coconut milk and water in cartons or glass containers when possible. Some sources state that using metal cans to transport and store coconut water could result in leaching from the can if the inside of the can is not properly sealed.