Coconuts are such an incredibly versatile superfood and the health benefits are endless! There are so many ways to enjoy its goodness, whether it be to consume the raw fruit, munch on dessiccated coconut chips, lather coconut oil on your skin/hair, sip on the milk or drink coconut water.
Coconut oil is made of anti-inflammatory, medium-chain fatty acids which in moderation are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, increase circulation, heal viruses such as influenza and manage cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is also known to assist with increasing metabolic rate, and is thought to help with managing a healthy weight and provide more energy to the brain. The lauric acid in coconut oil is a powerful anti-microbial fat that kills bacteria, viruses and yeast.
Coconut oil can be used in cooking and baking as it is heat stable, unlike oils such as olive oil. This means that it is suitable for cooking at high temperatures without the risk of it denaturing and going rancid, and creating dangerous free radicals. Coconut oil is also essential for creating raw desserts, due to being a solid at room temperature. It also makes a deep-conditioning hair mask – smooth it into your hair, plait it and sleep with it in overnight, and when you wash your hair in the morning it’ll be a lot softer and more manageable with a beautiful smell. Coconut oil is also beneficial for conditions such as eczema and makes a great moisturiser for very dry and sensitive skin.
Coconut water is the liquid extracted from young coconuts, and it’s a true superfood in my opinion as it’s so nutritionally rich. I use coconut water as a post workout drink as it’s a powerful natural isotonic that fights dehydration quickly by replacing fluids, electrolytes and minerals lost from sweating. It’s also sugar free, boosts energy and endurance and helps to repair damaged muscle tissue so it’s the perfect natural alternative to a regular sports drink. It’s antibacterial so it’s useful in treating tooth decay and digestive issues, as well and colds and flus.
Desiccated coconut is just the dried flesh of coconuts, so it contains all of the benefits of coconut oil, but with the addition of carbohydrates, proteins and fibre – perfect sprinkled on top of porridge, smoothies, desserts or pancakes!
Coconut milk/cream adds a depth and creaminess to curries and soups, without the need for dairy products, and is also wonderful in vegan desserts and baking.