Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cracking down the coconut

Have you noticed a trend in the supermarket aisles lately? Coconuts are like the new kids on the block.There are fresh coconuts, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut ice cream, and even coconut oil. Coconuts are flooding not only health and natural food markets but also regular supermarkets. Costco and Trader Joe’s are selling organic coconut oil. Not too long ago, coconut was mistakenly believed and labeled by health care professionals as forbidden food and there were warnings about saturated fatty acids in coconut. Recently, scientists have demystified coconut and its health benefits. Published studies in medical journals indicate that consuming coconut in one form or another provides a wide range of health benefits.

In India, coconut has a place of honor in Indian house holds. Cracking the coconut in the religious ceremonies is very commonly seen. It is supposed to bring good luck. Throughout Asia, coconut is highly valued as a food as well as medicine and it is comes from what is called “The Tree of Life”. Nearly one third of the population consumes coconut as a staple food in their diet. I for one have never stopped eating coconut. Coconut has been a part of my diet as for long as I can remember. While growing up in Southern India, my family had coconut palms in the compound. I grow up eating idlis (fermented and steamed rice and bean cakes) with coconut chutney for breakfast. It is analogous to eating toast with jam in the West.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is different from other fats and it contains leuric acid, a type of medium chain triglyceride(MCT). MCT’s help normal thyroid function which helps to reduce cholesterol.

Research studies showed that consuming 2 tablespoons of coconut oil every day will reduce abdominal fat. Now we know how to get rid of that stubborn few pounds around our waist line. Don't you think that is the best news especially for women?

Coconut oil is filled with antioxidants which help slow down the aging process.

Coconut water

Coconut water is completely pure and sterile and it has the highest concentration of electrolytes.
Coconut water is an excellent source of hydration.

Coconut water is nearly identical to human blood. Did you know that during World War II, when blood plasma supplies were scarce, coconut water was used as emergency plasma transfusion for soldiers who were injured?

Keep in mind that coconut water is not calorie free. It has about 60 calories per serving.

The coconut possesses many health benefits due to its high fiber content, vitamins and minerals. Until recently, even doctors were not aware of the importance of coconut for stabilizing blood sugar and lowering bad cholesterol. According to pundits, coconut has no trans-fats, gluten free, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and non-toxic. Over all coconut promotes healthy immune system.

The next time I’m drinking a pina colada, I will drink it almost guilt free.

Here are few recipes using coconut from this blog: Coconut - ginger scones, Fish Molle, kabocha squash coconut soup, shrimp-coconut soup, Carrot salad, persimmon-date-coconut-pudding, jeweled rice.

Cook something using coconut to your valentine today to show you care. Isn't it what love is all about?

 Both my books, Entertaining From an Ethnic Indian kitchen and Trader Joe's Simply Indian have many recipes using fresh coconut, coconut oil, and coconut milk. Stay tuned for more recipes using healthy dose of coconut.

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  1. nice our house in Orissa, India, there are hundreds of coconut palms and all recipes include it as ingredient..
    here in California, we buy it 1.5$ each..
    well, at least we get it, considering its taste and goodness...

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  3. I can live off coconut water !! lovely informative post

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  5. I remember when US dieticians/doctors started saying coconut was bad for us in the 80s. My mom laughed and continued using them. Several years later, my mom showed me a bunch of clipped articles that said "American scientists now say coconuts are healthy"! She laughed again. All along I used them but in moderate quantities. But as you said, I see them in every form now and I was quite surprised and happy to see organic coconut oil at costco. It has certainly come a full circle. This experience has taught me to always read/inform myself and not just go by the fad of the day. We seem to forget that many eastern cultures have wisdom gathered over many generations and we shouldn't just blindly listen to scientists' theory of the day. There is something to be said about paleo diet for sure and what our genetic makeup is used to.