Whole coconuts aren’t just vessels for the valuable and versatile oil. Prior to the oil being pressed from the “meat,” the water contained inside the shell is removed. Then, after the oil and water are extracted, the remaining dry matter can be put to use as a type of fine powder or flour. In reality, each part of the coconut has unique properties and uses.
High Fiber Coconut Flour
Recently, I described my affinity for coconut flour in a blog about gluten sensitivity. Besides being gluten-free, coconut flour is an exceptional source of dietary fiber. In fact, an ounce serving of coconut flour contains a whopping 11 grams of fiber! Now, I must say that baking with coconut flour isn’t identical to baking with grain flours. Baking with coconut flour yields drier results, so recipes need to be adjusted to compensate for its inherent lack of moisture. But, there’s good reason to make this effort. Research dating back to 2003 and 2004 indicates that adding coconut flour to one’s diet lowers the glycemic index of food, LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides.
In the Healthy Fellow Test Kitchen, we’ve found that blending almond meal with coconut flour tends to improve the flavor and texture of recipes that don’t expressly call for a coconut taste. Another tip is to add extra eggs. Eggs prevent crumbliness and help to mimic the mouth-feel of gluten-free recipes.
Rehydrate with Coconut Water
Modern diets are frequently lacking in select elements, including potassium. The need for potassium is conditionally greater when dealing with certain illnesses (food poisoning, gastroenteritis, intestinal flu), hot climates and intense physical activity. Fresh coconut water happens to be an abundant source of this essential mineral. This has led some health enthusiasts to utilize coconut water as a rehydration aid. On the surface, this is a reasonable idea. After all, coconut water is certainly more natural than most commercially available sports drinks.
But, it’s important to keep in mind that coconut water doesn’t contain all of the electrolytes required for optimal rehydration. But, this is an easy fix. Just add a sprinkle of sea salt to your coconut water. This adequately addresses this electrolyte imbalance and results in a more efficient rehydration aid.
A refreshing way to enjoy coconut water during the hot summer months is to make coconut water ice cubes. This is a great tip for anyone looking to boost potassium intake, while keeping carbohydrate intake to a minimum. Typically, a cup of fresh coconut water contains about 10 – 15 grams of naturally occurring sugar. However, an ice cube or two still imparts a pleasant taste with only a fraction of the calories or the carbs.
John Paul Fanton, based in Los Angeles, California, is a consultant, researcher and writer with over 20 years of experience in the field of natural medicine. He designs unique nutritional plans, mind-body (meditation, mindfulness, etc.) and vitamin/supplement programs for individual clients who are interested in improving overall health, weight and wellness. You can find his weekly column on the Healthy Fellow.
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