Monday, February 25, 2013

Fertility Diet and Coconut Products

For this blog post, I turned to our Advisory Board Nutritionist, Virgina Watkins, who is experienced in educating women trying to conceive, as well as moms, on optimal nutrition. Here, we excerpt her newsletter on the topic of Coconut's Comeback. Thank you, Virginia, for this informative article!

Here are three possible benefits of eating coconut that may surprise you.
1.     Assists in weight loss
2.     Increases energy
3.     Boosts immunity

How did we have it all wrong?
It was only a few years ago that the food police vilified coconut oil as a major culprit in the rise of obesity and heart disease in the U.S. Now many of these nutritionists and doctors are back peddling. It turns out that most of the coconut oil they were looking at was hydrogenated. Hydrogenated oils can wreak havoc on cardiovascular health. Food manufacturers love them for their ability to prolong shelf-life and because they are cheap, compared to unprocessed fats such as butter and virgin coconut oil.

The saturated fat in coconut raises both HDL cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol in the blood, and is not thought to negatively affect the ratio of the two. Experts now understand that the ratio is a better indicator of risk for heart disease than the LDL (sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol) levels, or the sum of HDL and LDL levels.

Weight loss benefit?
The jars of virgin coconut oil that fill the shelves in health food stores are primarily saturated fat, but on-going research since the late 1990’s shows that its unique properties can help with weight loss. Scientists have learned that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver and are absorbed more efficiently than long-chain fatty acids such as canola and vegetable oils.  The existing studies are not large enough to be conclusive, but even if doesn’t assist in weight loss, the mild, slightly nutty and vanillin flavor of coconut oil tastes delicious and is a great alternative to butter for those who are sensitive to dairy.

Immune booster for you and your family?
Coconut oil is high in lauric acid which is also very high in breast milk. Lauric acid fights against viruses and bacteria. If mother nature could weigh in here, she might add that coconuts grow in the warm, wet tropical climates where bacteria and viruses thrive, so it’s not surprising that the indigenous people in places such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and India- where most of the world’s coconuts are grown- eat a lot of coconut.

Which coconut products should I use and how? Are there any I should avoid?
Canned coconut milk is made from grated mature coconut. The canned coconut milk sold in the U.S. often has a layer of thick cream on top and a more milky substance underneath; use both. This type of coconut milk is traditionally used for making tasty curries. Try blending coconut milk with roasted winter squash for a tasty soup. Look for Native Forest brand on your grocer’s shelf; it is the only organic, BPA-free canned coconut milk available.

Refrigerated coconut milk is thinned and blended with water for a consistency more similar to cow’s milk. Manufacturers fortify it with vitamins A and D, and other vitamins and minerals, making it a milk alternative for those allergic or sensitive to dairy. So Delicious makes an Unsweetened, Original and Vanilla version. If you are allergic or sensitive to dairy, I recommend switching to a refrigerated coconut milk over almond, rice and other milk alternatives, if you enjoy the taste. Mix the Unsweetened variety with the Original or Vanilla to cut down on sugar.

Coconut oil is the fat from the coconut and is solid at room temperature. Look for organic virgin coconut oil. Use it as you would butter; add a couple of teaspoons to cooked rice, or steamed vegetables; use it instead of canola oil for stir-frying, or melt it and toss it with vegetables and sea salt for roasting. It has a higher smoke point than butter or olive oil so it won’t burn over high heat.

Coconut water is made from the liquid of young, immature coconuts. It does not contain fat and is high in potassium and electrolytes making it a great recovery drink for athletes or anyone who enjoys exercising.

Cindy speaking now: Please note that if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can attend one of Virginia's fun, informative cooking classes. For more info, visit

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