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Feature Friday - COCONUTS!

Seriously though how delicious are coconuts? My current obsession and right now - I am crazy for coconuts !

10 quick reasons why you should be incorporating these delicious and nutritious tropical fruits into your day to day diet. The Mighty Coconut:

Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite

Provides a natural source of quick energy and enhances physical and athletic performance

Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals

Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes

Helps protect the body from cancers due to insulin reduction, removal of free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative diseases

Reduces risk of heart disease and improves good cholesterol (HDL)

Restores and supports thyroid function

Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infection

Promotes weight loss

Helps keep hair and skin healthy and youthful looking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection

A coconut provides two forms of nourishment: through the water and through the meat. One average-sized coconut – about 400 grams – can provide you with your day’s worth of nutrients, minerals and energy. Coconuts are also high in lauric acid – a saturated fatty acid. You don’t need to fear this saturated fatty acid though; lauric acid can increase HDL – the good cholesterol.

For all your body builders out there, listen up - Coconut is a GREAT source of protein. It may not be a complete source of protein, but it’s still packed with amino acids. Containing 17 amino acids out of the 20 amino acids needed for optimal protein formation, it’s particularly high in threonine, an amino acid needed to protect the liver, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and to support the formation of collagen in the body. Also for your muscles, it builds connective tissues and maintains elasticity in the body, even in the heart. In terms of overall protein content, there are 3.5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, 8 grams of protein in 1/2 cup fresh meat, and 2 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons of coconut butter. However, coconut oil contains virtually no amino acids and 0 grams of protein.

They are packed with iron especially for a fruit. Two tablespoons of raw coconut butter contain 6 percent of your iron needs, while 1/2 cup of fresh meat contains 11 percent. Iron is needed to ensure optimal blood flow to the muscles and for optimal energy needed for exercise.

Folate is a B vitamin we need for healthy metabolism and red blood cell function. Coconut meat contains 20 percent of your daily folate needs in a 1/2 cup of fresh meat. Avocados, asparagus, bananas, spinach, and beans are also great sources of folate too.

Potassium is an incredibly important mineral for our health. It reduces high blood pressure and aids in water balance in the body to counteract too much sodium, so say goodbye to BLOATING! We need 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best source, and coconut is a great option. The tropical fruit contains 285 milligrams of potassium in 1/2 cup of fresh meat. Coconut water is even higher.

To add to the list of benefits, coconut is a fantastic source of dietary fiber. Fiber keeps you regular which improves your energy, takes care of your heart, and can even help whittle your waistline too. Coconut meat contains more fiber than wheat bran or any other grain per serving! In 2 tablespoons of coconut butter, you’ll get 5 grams of fiber, while 2 tablespoons of coconut flour will give you 7 grams, and the meat of the coconut contains around 10 grams per 1/2 cup.

There are so many different forms of coconut available in the shops today, - brief description of these below:

Coconut meat - this is the white flesh inside the coconut.

Coconut water - this is the clear liquid that is inside the coconut. This water is high natural electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and only contains a small amount of simple sugars.

Coconut water is perfect post workout, or as a substitute for energy drinks.

Coconut milk and cream - this is the liquid that comes from grated coconut meat and is thick and creamy and white. This is so versatile and can be used in cooking, in coffee or just as a drink.

Coconut oil - this is the edible oil extracted or ideally pressed from mature coconut meat. It is solid at room temperature, and is great for cooking but works wonders on your skin and hair!

Coconut butter - this is made by pureeing unsweetened shredded coconut meat, creating a combination of coconut oil and coconut meat. Use it instead of butter and has a naturally sweet flavour.

Coconut flour - this is dried and ground coconut meat. high in fiber and great for gluten free, low carb baking.

Coconut shredded flakes - this is mature coconut meat shredded into very small slivers or flakes. Use in baking, raw deserts, sprinkle of porridge - yum yum yum.

Coconut Sugar - this is derived from the coconut sap, the sweet juice extracted when the budding flower is just about to grow. This process offers a delicious, sweet taste similar to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Coconut sugar is considered a low glycemic food and is diabetic friendly.

I cannot get enough Coconut these days and love adding the water to smoothies, or treating myself to a coconut milk latte. The brands I would recommend are Rebel Kitchen for Mylk and Yogurt, Vita Coco for water (especially the pineapple one!) Coyo for that extra thick creamy coconut cream, Ape Coconut Snacks and the most delicious coconut flakes are from Daylesford Organic. Some of my favourite Coconut Recipes are (Click on them to take you to the recipe!):

Minimalist Baker - White Chocolate Truffles

Nutrition Stripped - Low Sugar Coconut Energy Balls

Happy Friday everyone, and may your weekend be full of coconutty deliciousness!

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