The Power of Coconut

significant component of the Paleo lifestyle is intake of healthy fats. Our bodies run most efficiently when a significant portion of our calories come from saturated fat. Conventional wisdom has told us time and time again that saturated fat leads to heart disease by raising the level of cholesterol in the blood. In truth, saturated fat from grass-fed sources and coconut are heart protective and have been shown to reduce heart attacks and strokes. They are also an excellent fuel source for your body as they are not stored as fat easily.

Coconut is by far my favorite source of saturated fat. Here are some ways you can get more in your diet now!

Coconut Oil

I use coconut oil to cook pretty much everything as it’s stable at high heat and a great source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids, specifically lauric acid, which may aid the immune system. My favorite coconut oil is the Gold Label variety from Tropical Traditions. And it’s not just because they sent me a sample; it is actually the highest quality coconut oil I’ve used to date. A good quality oil is very smooth at room temperature and tastes slightly coconutty without any foul aftertaste. You can use it for stove top cooking, baking, grilling (melt it and spread it over a steak), and more.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the base ingredient for most Thai food. When combined with curry paste, veggies and protein, it makes for a tasty dish that’s quick and easy to make. Be careful not to use too much at one time though: as with any liquid food, it’s very calorie dense, so it’s easy to overdo. Also, coconut, like all fats, tend to have a *ahem* laxative effect on the body.

Look for a brand that has a minimal amount of ingredients, usually just coconut, water and a thickening agent. I get mine for around $1.50 at an Asian grocery store nearby. Don’t bother with any “light” coconut milk, you’ll just be paying for a watered-down product. Also be careful not to mix coconut milk up with coconut cream: coconut cream is much thicker and usually needs to be thinned before use.

Fresh Coconut

Fresh coconuts scare a lot of people for some reason, but really, all you need is a little knowledge and some practice and you can be enjoying tasty treats in no time.

There are two main types of coconuts sold, young coconut (pictured above) and mature coconuts (pictured below). Young coconuts are great for drinking the water and eating as they have a soft mushy flesh on the inside that can be easily scooped out with a spoon.

Watch this awkwardly awesome video on how to open a young coconut easily:

Mature coconuts are a bit different. They’re flesh is more developed, so it’s a little tougher to extract the meat. To open a mature coconut, look for the 3 holes on the top. Two of them are hard and one is soft.

I use a corkscrew to make an opening in that hole and drain the coconut into a bowl or glass. Using the back of a knife, give the coconut a good thwacking like this guy here (although we drained ours first).

You can even make you own coconut flakes from the removed meat. Because it still has all the moisture and a lot of the oil of the coconut, I find that it almost has the consistency of cheese (weird, I know)!

Coconut Chips/Flakes

At work, I tend to graze on a bag of coconut flakes that I get out of the bin from a local market. Whole Foods carries them as well, but the best variety I’ve had is the one pictured above from Let’s Do Organic. It has a little more moisture than traditional desiccated coconut. It’s a great alternative to reaching for nuts or fruits, especially if you’re trying to lose fat.

Coconut Flour

Lots of people have gotten on board with using almond flour instead of traditional grain-based flour, and while that’s a step in the right direction, you’re still getting quite an Omega-6 load from all those nuts. Coconut flour is a great alternative for baking. It’s a very dry flour, so you’ll want to experiment with how much water you need to add when baking.  Now to be clear, I’m not giving you free license to go wild with baking. The truth still remains that baked goods tend to be too calorie dense for my liking and are usually just a vehicle for sugar. But, if you are going to bake once in a while, coconut flour is pretty good stuff.

Coconut Butter

Coconut butter is dangerous. Dangerously delicious. It’s a bit on the expensive side (around $10/bottle) which is why I buy it infrequently, but the other reason is that I can easily finish a bottle in a week and I don’t need to be spending $520 a year on coconut butter. Coconut butter makes for a fantastic dessert, either straight from the jar or warmed up a little. It’s on the dry side, but has a subtle sweetness that is really delightful. Diane at Balanced Bites has a great post on all the things you can do with it.

Coconut Aminos

If you’re a sashimi fan, I hope by now you’ve realized that soy sauce is pretty awful for you. In addition to all the problems associated with soy (phytoestrogens, lectins, processing with nasty chemicals, etc.) there’s the additional fact that most soy sauce contains wheat as well. Thankfully, there’s an alternative in coconut aminos. I have not tried them myself, but I have it on good authority (Diane again) that it tastes very similar and won’t leave you with any of the inflammation! You can get them online or at Whole Foods.

Well hopefully I’ve convinced to to get more coconut in your diet. It really is a wonder food and when combined with a balanced Paleo lifestyle, it will make you feel great!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product. But I did anyway cause it’s a fantastic product. If you decide to purchase products from there, enter in the Referral ID 6924012 to get a free coconut recipe book.

The Lazy Caveman