It used to be that the coconut, hard and with a course strand-like outer covering that most people didn’t know much about, was passed by in the supermarket. Or, it was typically found in specialty markets, desired only those wanting to add a more non-traditional, exotic flair to recipes. However, as people became increasingly aware about their eating habits and interested in making healthier choices, the coconut has become top-of-mind.
Today, several coconut-derived products exist in many kitchens and even medicine cabinets. From recipes to skin moisturizers, parts of the coconut have numerous edible and topical benefits.
Top 8 Coconut-Derived Products
Coconut oil’s (buy some through this Amazon affiliate link) combinations and types of fats and acids give the body more of a health boost than most other oils, helping our system to function more optimally. In fact, studies have shown coconut oil to help improve digestion, stress, memory and skin conditions, as well as aid in weight loss, create better bone density, regulate blood pressure and manage heart health, to name just a few. Virgin or extra virgin coconut oil are considered the most desired type of coconut oils due to the fact that fermentation is not part of the process and as little heat as possible is used, making it not only smell better than other varieties like pure or refined, but contain more antioxidant and anti-microbial properties.
The nearly clear liquid of a fresh coconut has often been thought of as its milk. However, it is water, often ingested directly from the coconut by many people in tropical parts of the world. It’s touted as a natural beverage that’s brimming with electrolytes which helps balance the levels of sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate in our blood. Did you know that coconut water (aff link) was once used in the Pacific War in the 1940s to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers? It’s that incredible! Today, many people enjoy the fact that coconut water has less fat and no cholesterol compared to whole milk and also has a lower caloric content than orange juice.
Raw unfiltered coconut Vinegar (aff link), which is made from coconut tree sap, is similar to balsamic, red wine, rice and apple cider vinegars. However, only two kinds, coconut vinegar and apple cider vinegar are not pasteurized after fermentation. Therefore, it’s a more natural choice and is recognized as such by the floating film-like gel that happens during aging. Vinegar derived from coconuts has a unique taste and can range in color from cloudy white to a light brown.
Coconut Aminos (aff link) is a soy sauce alternative that boasts the salty flavor with only one-third the sodium. Made from coconut tree sap, it’s 100% natural and has been said to have an even richer taste than traditional soy sauce. It gets better. Coconut aminos is also soy-free, gluten-free, raw and non-GMO.
Coconut butter (aff link) is comparable to ghee in terms of its spreadable, creamy texture. All of the coconut flesh is used, combining the oils and fats to create butter. The result is a sweet-tasting, more healthful butter.
Fresh coconut meat is mixed with water then squeezed through cheesecloth to create coconut milk (aff link), a thick and slightly sweet drink. It’s often sold in supermarkets and health food stores in the refrigerated section or as canned milk elsewhere in the store. Canned milk, however, typically contains a thickening agent called guar gum, a safe thickener made from an East Indian seed.
A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a likely link between women who ate more coconut oil and improved blood lipid profiles, which is related to helping prevent or slow the progression of heart disease. It’s believed that the fatty acids in coconut milk may be responsible for killing off harmful organisms that lead to plaque in the arteries.
This flour (aff link) adds flavor and fiber (5 grams in 2 tablespoons) and as such, is enjoyed in a variety of recipes. It’s also ideal for diabetics, since it’s low on the glycemic index.
Ideal for sprinkling over fruits, desiccated coconut (aff link) is an enjoyable way to add a hint of sweetness to desserts (not just fruits). It is sometimes mistaken as flour, but is not, as desiccated coconut still contains coconut fats (which is removed in coconut flour) and is finely ground.
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