After reading yesterday’s post on coconut oil and its amazing health benefits, has anyone gone out and bought some yet? I hope so!
If you venture into Whole Foods, Safeway, or even your local yoga studio, you have probably seen cartons or cans of coconut water flying off the shelves. It’s easy for me to figure out new health food trends – just by sitting in class. We are allowed (encouraged, almost!) to bring food to class, and it’s where I get a lot of my ideas for what to eat or drink next! My classmates were drinking Kombucha tea and eating goji berries long before they became popular. The newest beverage I’m seeing around the classroom, though, is coconut water.
Coconut water is the natural liquid found in a coconut. It has many of the same health benefits as the coconut oil, but has no fat and contains sugar. However, it’s 100% natural if you buy the right kind. Ingredients should say “young coconut juice” or something similar. Coconut water is most often taken from a young coconut because these coconuts have the most liquids. As a coconut matures, the water is replaced by the meat, and a coconut becomes much denser and less liquid. Young coconuts are typically green, while the more mature ones are brown.
No preservatives, added sugars or other additives need be added to coconut water, so (again) read labels carefully. Some reputable brands include Vita Coco, Zico Pure, O.N.E., and Amy & Brian Naturals. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is considered very refreshing and hydrating. This is why you see it in gyms and yoga studios. In some countries where medical saline is unavailable but coconuts are abundant, coconut water is used as an intravenous hydration fluid in hospitals.
Other health benefits associated with drinking coconut water regularly include: healthy immune system; intestinal health; increased metabolism; weight loss; supports those with diabetes or high blood pressure (and has even helped lower blood pressure); increased circulation; helps to break down kidney stones; and calming of an upset stomach.
Coconut water is high in potassium, salts and minerals, so it helps restore the body’s balance after vigorous exercise or in times of dehydration. It also contains the lauric acid I mentioned yesterday, which helps detoxify and protect the body. It is safe for children because it is 100% natural and does not contain any added sugars. It may be a good substitute for regular juice for kids. You can get coconut water in little cartons (similar to a juice box), and it is just sweet enough that they may love it!
Coconut milk is a mixture of equal parts of the natural liquid found in a coconut and shredded “meat” of the coconut, boiled together and strained. This is why coconut milk appears thicker and whiter than coconut water. Coconut milk is higher in fats and sugars (all good, natural ones though) than coconut water, and is often used for cooking or baking. My brother makes an awesome curry (which I hope he blogs soon for us!) and he uses coconut milk.
Coconut milk also contains lauric acid (same nutrient found in breast milk) and has many of the same benefits as coconut oil and water. It is high in vitamins, including B-vitamins, protein, zinc, phosphorous and iron. Coconut milk can be a great ingredient to add to homemade baby food recipes, and is also great for kids. As with the introduction of any new food, give your baby or child a small amount of the coconut milk first to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction.