The coconut – a fruit? A nut? Or seed? – has successfully captured all of our attention in the past couple of years. This thick, brown, and hairy husk, enfolding inside sweet white meat, is usually grown in tropical countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is almost admirable how it has managed to make its way into our homes and kitchens with such ease and enthusiasm.
The craze for coconut-based food products arose when the world started to get acquainted with its numerous potencies, properties, and health benefits. Not to forget that when Rihanna and Madonna themselves advocated for a famous coconut water brand, the popularity of the coconut shot through the roof.
Specialty foods are a big hit now among consumers owing to their natural health benefits. Manufacturers recognized this trend and decided to cash in on it by incorporating coconut into a range of innovative food products. So, what are these coconut-based food products, and are they that good for our bodies? Let’s find out.
1. Coconut Water – The fad for tender coconut water is catching up among fitness enthusiasts. Of late, it has become the go-to post-workout and thirst-quenching energy drink for many. It contains no added sugar, is highly hydrating, and helps restore lost electrolytes and fluids after strenuous exercise. What’s more, coconut water also makes appearances at a large number of gyms and yoga studios today, further propagating itself as nature’s energy drink.
But that isn’t all. Coconut water consumption is also linked to several other health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, reduced sugar levels, and better kidney health. It is rich in nutrients such as fiber, Vitamin C, and several other minerals.
The bottom line is that the drink is a delicious and natural beverage. However, further studies are needed to confirm the above health benefits to our body. In the meantime, you may keep sipping coconut water after your workouts and make it your go-to beverage on a hot day (especially if you love the taste), but be certain to avoid any variant of this drink that contains added sugar.
2. Coconut Oil – Coconut oil, used in cooking, finds itself surrounded by a few debates on its health benefits. While it is often known to be a healthier alternative to regular cooking oil, its saturated fat content may beg to differ. You see, it’s because coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter. However, more recent studies say that saturated fat isn’t as unhealthy as thought to be and could, in fact, be favorable to us. Well, isn’t that confusing! Until more research and studies are conducted on the benefits of coconut oil to our body, we’d suggest making controlled usage of this oil. Consuming coconut oil in moderate quantities can’t do much harm, and hence, it’s a great choice of oil for baked goods. It has a high smoke point, a longer shelf life, and can be used as a replacement for butter or vegetable oil in any recipe. Coconut oil does have a nutty taste and smell, so ensure you add it to your dish only if you relish its flavor.
Also Read: All About Cooking Oils
3. Coconut Milk – Another highly popular by-product of coconut is coconut milk. It is made from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts and is commonly served in traditional Asian and Thai cuisines. Coconut milk is versatile and finds its way into various dishes such as fish, curries, sweets, cakes, puddings, and ice creams! It is tasty and a must-have ingredient in your kitchen if you often like to gorge on coconut-flavored foods. The milk is high in calories and saturated fats, along with other nutrients.
Coconut milk is slowly becoming a more popular alternative to cow milk as more and more people are gaining awareness of its nutritional advantages. People are adding it to their coffees, protein shakes, desserts, and cereals. Do note that because it is high in calories, you must consume it in moderate amounts. Opt for unsweetened coconut milk in cartons, and if you want to go low on the calories, choose light canned coconut milk as it’s thinner and contains fewer calories.
4. Coconut Snacks – Snacks, an inevitable part of our daily routines, are one habit that is a little too hard to let go of. This is why most of us now try to incorporate healthy snacks in our kitchen cabinets. It’s not surprising when we say that coconut-based food items have made their entry here as well. Guilt-free healthy snacking has given rise to the use of coconut as an incredible ingredient in most products. From coconut chips, coconut chocolates, and coconut biscuits to coconut flavored protein balls, most food companies are adding this superfood everywhere. The demand for such products is high, while the sales are even higher. So, the next time if you are shopping at your local supermarket and have to choose between your usual unhealthy snack and a delicious, healthy coconut-based snack, make sure to add the latter to your cart.
Coconuts are undoubtedly enjoying themselves today, as an increasing number of people switch to this highly nutritious superfood. The craze for coconut-based food products continues to rise, as studies show that it does offer some good advantages to our body and overall health. If you enjoy its tropical and exotic taste and are working towards eating healthy, then, by all means, go for it! But remember to be aware and read all packaging labels carefully before you make your choice.