Coconuts in Costa Rica
My love for coconuts started when I was 19 years old. After I left school, I worked my butt off to save as much money as I could. I headed out to Costa Rica on my own to do a course learning surf, yoga & photography at an amazing place called School of The World (you should all go). After each surf lesson (which I'm so terrible at) the surf instructors would climb up the coconut trees, knock them all down & crack them open for us. Considering how exhausted & dehydrated I was from surfing/being in the sea for hours, coconut water quickly became my new favourite. From then on I have always been a lover of the coconut & it's my go-to comfort drink when I'm feeling a little less energetic than normal, or feeling a little down in the dumps.
The Fresh Side of Things
Now, when Ina asked me to write this blog post, straight away I thought back to my time traveling the South East Asian islands. After falling in love with coconut water in Costa Rica, I quickly went back to my routes of having coconut water in Asia whenever I could get my hands on it. Which was almost on a daily basis. Somehow even back then I knew I wanted to write a blog post on the benefits of coconuts. I had actually taken pictures of loads of posters I'd seen around the islands, many of which were telling of the benefits coconuts can have on our health. It's funny how life works out sometimes.
So here you have it, I've combined all the fun facts I found out about my little coconut buddy’s benefits & put them in one place for you guys.
Why We LOVE Fresh Green Coconuts (The Fresher, The Better)
The water in the young coconut is one of the highest sources of electrolytes. Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles & nerves can function properly. Coconut water is also low in calories, carbohydrates, sugars & it is almost completely fat-free. In addition to this, it is high in ascorbic acid, B Vitamins, & proteins. Furthermore, the soft meat/flesh inside the coconut helps restore oxidative tissue damage & contains a source of healthy fats, proteins & various vitamins & minerals.
Find this recipe here.
Now that we know the benefits of fresh coconuts, let's talk a little about coconut oil...
Coconut oil can be used for many things, including cooking, washing your hair, cleaning your teeth, helping with dry skin & eczema. It can also be great in smoothies & salad dressings. In fact for some people, it can be the be all & end all. The whole coconut loving thing can get slightly addictive. It's great for replacing dairy products when it comes to cooking, so it is definitely a winner with the vegans out there.
I have personally noticed that if I add a teaspoon of coconut oil to my smoothie in the morning, I don't get hungry as quickly. For me this is a massive benefit, as although I'm adding extra calories, in the long run, I am less likely to snack as much & so eating fewer calories as a total in the day. Now when my aim is weight loss, this is great. If you want to lose weight you must be in a calories deficit, so eating fewer calories than you are burning. So the fuller I am for longer, the better.
I have found that my body responds really well to filling up on fats early in the morning. I am less likely to crave sugar throughout the day & feel fuller for longer. Now although this may work for me, it may not work for you. Your body may work better on eating more carbohydrates as this is the easiest macronutrient for your body to break down. If you want to know more on this topic head over to R&H & check out my post on Fats | The Truth
The Firing Line
Coconut oil has been under a lot of fire recently. One minute everybody is obsessed, & the next everybody is saying it's the devil & the cause of heart disease/obesity.
Now let's set the record straight. There are four main types of fat, these generally being split into the main two of Saturated Fat & Unsaturated Fat. In short, think Saturated = Bad & Unsaturated = Good. Now although there is obviously a lot more detail to this, & it isn't quite that simple, this is what we were taught at school.
The reason people are now saying the use of coconut oil is bad, is simply because coconut oil is mainly a saturated fat. Yes, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter & not as many nutritional benefits as we may like to believe, but against this is the argument is the fact that coconut oil has many more anti's than many of us are aware of. By anti, I mean coconut oil can be anti: bacterial, carcinogenic, fungal, inflammatory, microbial, oxidant, retroviral/parasitic/protozoa/viral.
At the end of the day, the use of coconut oil consumption is a topic that is still being largely researched. Unlike other oils, it is one of the new less researched products & so the truth is, we don't really know as much about the benefits or negatives as we would like to think.
My advice would be
Always stick to fresh produce if you can. The fresher the better. As with all fruits & vegetables, we know that raw fruit & veg is better for you than cooked or dried. They tend to lose a lot of nutrients when the food gets cooked. For example, when broccoli is boiled, there's actually more nutrition in the leftover water than the broccoli itself (adding the water to a smoothie is great health hack!)
I personally think that there are far worse foods we should be worrying about consuming than something that comes from a natural plant/fruit. At the end of the day, this is a decision only you can make for you. There's so many articles our there about discussing both sides of the coconut oil argument. So, I say do your research carefully & don't just trust the first website you come across. Just because it's online doesn't mean it's true.
I am NOT a nutritionist; I do not know the correct answer. I can only give you my opinion & hope that you do your own research further to figure out what body type you are & what works for you. We are all different, & different things work for different people. At the end of the day, I completely agree with the fact that 'The Fresher the Better', take that how you will, & be balanced!
That's the best advice I can give you right now until I do my course in nutrition, then I'll get back to you :)
Obviously, I know the use of coconut oil is currently a massive debate, so if you guys have something to add feel free to comment below or get in touch. We love hearing from you! ♡
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