Lifestyle
Go nuts over coconuts
By Sean Anthony Updated Sunday May 12, 2013 - 1:51pm
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Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/Thinkstock

A few years ago, I moved from Canada to the Philippines and have been enjoying the local fresh tropical produce. My favorite by far has been the coconut. There is actually a big craze over coconuts in North America, as many want it for its many health benefits. Coconuts grow on palm trees, which are know as "the tree of life" and coconuts actually saved lives in World War 2. The electrolyte levels in coconut water are similar to those of humans and when blood plasma levels were low, it was used successfully in blood transfusions as a blood substitute. Coconuts have many health benefits and can be made into many different products. This week I will just talk about two of them: Coconut water and Coconut oil.

Coconut water

As I said earlier coconut water literally saved lives in World War 2, which is pretty amazing, but it has many other benefits as well. It is very rich in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, making it a nutritious drink.

  • Rehydration: With five times more potassium (electrolyte key in preventing cramps) then Gatorade, coconut water is slowly replacing sports drinks in the market. Coconut water has less sugar than sport drinks and also contains natural sugars rather then refined sugars found in sport dinks. With less sugar there are much less calories and the natural sugars are digested better as well. The one thing it lacks when compared to products like Powerade is sodium or salt. So if you are partaking in strenuous activities in our tropical heat, add a little salt to your coconut water to replenish the salt you will loose in your sweat.
  • Stronger Bones: Being a source of calcium, coconut water is great for your bones and teeth as well.
  • Digestion: With its bioactive enzymes, coconut water will assist your body in better digestion when you consume it. It will also help with bloating as well.
  • Immune System: The water contains lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid that contain antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that support our immune system.

Personally, I love coconut water and use it on a daily basis. I use it in my smoothies every morning instead of water. The additional nutrients it contains over regular water prep me for the rigorous activities throughout my day.

My morning smoothie: Berries, mango, protein, flax seed, oatmeal, coconut oil, and coconut water

Coconut Oil

While the palm tree is known as the "tree of life," coconut oil is known as the "oil of life." There are many health benefits from coconut oil that I will list bellow. But first I must address the fact that NOT ALL FATS ARE UNHEALTHY. Unsaturated fats found in products like olive oil, avocados, nuts and fish oil are actually great for your health. Coconut oil is a unique fat call a medium-chain triglyceride, which is why some believe it is the healthiest oil.

  • Energy: Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT's provide a great energy source for the body. When consumed, the fat is quickly converted into energy and not stored as fat. Many take a teaspoon in the morning or before a workout to energize them through the day or gym session. Try this yummy coconut with cocoa recipe I found online http://www.fitnessinanevolutionarydirection.com/2011/06/caveman-cuisine-chocolate-coconut-oil.html
  • Weight loss: Coconut oil helps us control weight by boosting our metabolism, easing digestion and protecting our body from insulin resistance. When you are craving sugars reach for a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil as its quality fats are more satiating then sugars. The sugar cravings come when your body is hungry and wants instant energy from sugar. Instead of grabbing sweets consume some coconut oil to give it better nutrients fast.
  • Beauty: The oils can also be found in various beauty products such as conditioners or body rubs. Its richness in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helps replenish and restore dry/damaged skin or hair. When you have been under the sun for too long, put some coconut oil in your hair or on your skin to repair the damage from the sun. With its antibacterial properties it can be used to fight acne when using it as a face wash.
  • Anti-Aging: The antioxidants in coconut oil protect the skin against free radical damage much like what vitamin e does. It also heals and repairs damaged skin as well. The oil is easily absorbed and has been said to strengthen connective tissue.
  • Cooking: Coconut oil should also be the only oil you cook with. While others may suggest using olive oil, coconut oil is much better. The reason being is olive oil oxidizes when heated and creates free radicals inside itself. When coconut oil is heated it keeps its form, which is why it is best to cook with.
  • Immune System: Just like coconut water, coconut oil has lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, which contain antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that support our immune system.

In the future, try adding coconut water and coconut oil into your diet. It will be very beneficial to your health. In the morning, I will sometimes take a shot of coconut oil to give me some energy to get through practice.

Take care and see you next week!

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