A growing number of supporters – in the health industry, scientists and people at home – are getting on the coconut bandwagon. Coconut oil, coconut water and coconut sugar are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, and with good reason!
So, superfood or superfad? We reckon these products are here to stay, here’s why:
Despite various health institutes having previously recommended against using coconut oil due to high levels of saturated fat, recent studies have shown the fat is actually comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) which, unlike other saturated fats, can help protect against heart disease and may place less strain on our digestive systems.
The people of Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific all believe in coconut oil’s medicinal values and have done so for a long time. Coconuts are full of rich vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and beneficial oils that help nourish our bodies in a number of ways. The oil has been shown to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and support weight management, and is one of the leading alternative remedies for poor thyroid function. Coconut oil also helps support healthy cholesterol levels and may help relieve inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel disease and gastric ulcers.
It can be substituted for butter or oil in most recipes, due to its light, fresh texture, and adds a delicious and distinctive favour. It’s perfect for frying as it is able to resist the heat-induced damage that affects other vegetable oils. Not to mention, it makes a fab skin moisturiser and hair treatment!
Not all coconut oils are created equally though; for the best quality, preferably look for products that are not bleached, deodorised, hydrogenated or refined. Remember as well that coconut oil is still a type of fat which means it is high in calories and should be consumed in moderation.
Coconut water is the liquid taken from the centre of young coconuts and can be a great alternative to sugar-filled fruit and soft drinks as it provides natural hydration. Products such as C Coconut Water are fat free, unlike the creamier milk that you find in older coconuts.
It’s also rich in vitamin C, contains more potassium than a banana (which may help to regulate blood pressure), is low in calories, and is considered by some to be a natural sports drink due to its five essential electrolytes – magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and calcium. This makes coconut water an ideal drink to help re-hydrate your body, boost your metabolism and lift energy levels after a workout.
Made from the dried and crystallised sap from flower buds of the coconut palm, coconut sugar has a rich caramel-like flavour and is pitched as a healthier low GI alternative to processed cane sugar. A teaspoon of coconut sugar adds the same sweetness as a teaspoon of cane sugar which means a 1 to 1 ratio can be used, but the coconut sugar provides slower release energy. This means it could help prevent the sugar ‘crashes’ that can lead to hunger (which, in turn, can cause weight gain).
Its GI rating is approximately 35 which will do a better job of maintaining lower blood sugar and insulin levels when compared with cane sugar (GI 70-100) or honey (GI 60-70). This helps to promote weight management and may help prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues.
It’s not just your waistline and energy levels that can benefit; the vitamins and minerals in coconut sugar may also help improve your health from the inside out. Coconut sugars, such as BioBalance Organic Coconut Sugar (250g RRP $8.90), contain twice the iron, four times the magnesium and 10 times the zinc of regular brown sugar, and are a great source of B vitamins.
It can easily be used to sweeten beverages, and in cooking and baking, which means you can use it in the exact same way you would use normal sugar.
- BioBalance Organic Coconut Oil 500ml (RRP $19.50)
- C Coconut Water
- BioBalance Organic Coconut Sugar 250g (RRP $8.90)
Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Suat Eman