Step into any supermarket or health foods store and you can’t help but notice all the new coconut products on the shelf. Whether it is athletes consuming their coconut water to rehydrate or home chefs using coconut oil to sauté their greens, coconut seems to be the latest buzz on the Internet, TV, and throughout the literature. Here we will review four of the hottest coconut products on the shelf: water, milk, sugar and flour.
1. Coconut Water:
Looking at an immature, green coconut, we find a hard shell filled with water rich in easily digested carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes. This liquid also known as Coconut Water and packs fewer calories, less sugar, and more potassium than your commercialized sports drink. Many have questioned whether or not they could replace their sports drink with the more natural form of coconut water but research has concluded that while coconut water does contain more potassium, it does not contain the amount of sodium needed to replace what has been lost. Ounce per ounce, most unflavored coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium.
Brands found locally: Zico, O.N.E, Vita COCO
Bottom Line: Less than 1 g of fat, low calories, low in sugar and high in potassium—Coconut water is a great choice! Make sure not to completely switch this out with your daily water intake, as it still has extra calories and sugar.
2. Coconut Milk:
Coconut milk can easily replace your dairy options at home. Lower in calories than milk, this milk has a mild taste. Used in your cereal, coffee, or even just plain, coconut milk is a nice alternative. While both traditional cows milk and coconut milk contain saturated fat, the coconut version contains more than 0%, 1%, and 2%. Remember that the saturated fat in coconuts has been the source of much controversy as it is not very traditional; it is made up of two fatty acids that raise both your LDL and HDL.
Brands found locally: So Delicious, Silk
Bottom Line: Coconut milk is a good dairy alternative. As for any fat in your diet, use sparingly.
3. Coconut Sugar:
Coconut sugar is also called Coconut Palm Sugar.
It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with Palm Sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. Regular table sugar and high fructose corn syrup don’t contain any vital nutrients and therefore supply “empty” calories. Most notable of these are the minerals Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits.
Bottom Line: While rich in many minerals that regular table sugar does not contain, at the end of the day coconut sugar is still SUGAR! Use sparingly.
4. Coconut Flour:
Coconut flour is a delicious, healthy alternative to wheat and other grain flours for your gluten free eaters at home. Ground from dried, defatted coconut meat, coconut flour is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates. A single 2 Tbsp serving of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber with only 8 grams of carbs. This makes it ideal for those following the paleo diet or who need to be carb conscious for their health. The light coconut flavor allows coconut flour to blend effortlessly into sweet or savory baked goods. It makes a wonderful coating for chicken, fish or other proteins in place of regular flour or cornmeal.
Bottom Line: This is a great option if you’re looking for an alternative for your gluten free eaters in the house. Also, this flour is a lower carb option with the addition of fiber!