Are coconut products worth the expense?
Coconut oil prices have soared largely because of the growing popularity of specialty products such as coconut water, flour and coconut sugar. As reported by the WSJ, the desire for coconut products has caused a jump in prices and according to World Bank data, prices are more than 50% higher than the average price in 2013! So are coconut products something you should be spend your money on? Read on to find out.
Are coconuts healthy? Coconut oil and other coconut products in their pure, unrefined state (think “extra virgin”), have demonstrated no adverse effects on cholesterol levels, are thought to boost immunity, kill bacteria, yeast, and offer protection from various degenerative diseases. Coconut oil contains no cholesterol since it is a plant product. Coconuts and their oils have been used as a health food in many cultures for centuries, and its medium chain triglycerides are thought to be the main reason for its purported healing properties.
Coconuts contain lauric acid, which is also a component of mothers’ breast milk; lauric acid is known as a powerful stimulant to the immune system, which may be helpful in preventing sickness. In addition, coconuts are a dense source of caprylic acid, which is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Thought coconut oil was bad? Most of the bad press surrounding coconuts was associated with highly processed, refined/ hydrogenated coconut oil. We know today that hydrogenated oils, (from all sources - palm, coconut, canola, etc.) create dangerous trans-fatty acids which impede cell function, lead to high cholesterol, and more. Many of the studies that pointed to coconut oil were in fact accurate but left out the fact that participants consumed refined and hydrogenated coconut oil - which in turn led to less than positive health outcomes. The benefits discussed in this article are related to unrefined, virgin coconut oil.
Popular coconut products:
How to use coconut oil? Coconut oil is heat-stable so you can cook with it, fry with it, and bake with it or use it straight out of the jar. It is mostly made up of saturated fats which are not sensitive to becoming damaged when heated. It is a delicious butter replacement and melts easily. Since it is solid at room temperature and liquid at body temperature, it is shelf stable for months, even years - but be sure to check expiration dates and read labels for product specific instructions.
Fresh coconuts can be stored in a cool temperature with high humidity for one to two months, however, they are susceptible to drying and mold. Alternatively, they can be stored for two weeks at room temperature. Like any other fresh fruit product, coconuts can taste slightly different based on the climate and soil conditions where they were raised.
Coconut products can be incorporated into a healthy, varied and balanced diet. Today many supermarkets stock fresh coconut meat, coconut water, dried coconut, coconut oils and more. Look for unrefined (fresh), or virgin products for the most nutrition and as always speak with your physician before making any changes to your diet.