Coconut products are used and relied upon in large amounts in the tropics all around the world. However in western countries they have been somewhat over looked recently due to bad publicity and propaganda. Soy and corn manufacturers in the 80’s spread the rumour that coconut oil was unhealthy and increased cholesterol to benefit their own products over coconuts. Whilst it is true that coconut oil is high in saturated fat it is not hydrogenated which makes it beneficial. Up until then coconut oil was widely used and the third world countries they were imported from couldn’t afford to refute the bad publicity that was being spread by the conglomerates.
Modern research has now proved that not only is the information that was put out incorrect, but that coconut oil is quite probably the MOST healthy oil known to man!
The benefits of coconuts are endless. They posses anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, they have also been shown to help fight flu, herpes, measles and other viruses. It is also used by local populations to treat fevers, headaches, stomach upsets, diarrhoea and dysentery. The medium chain fatty acids (lauric acid) found in coconuts have been shown to lower cholesterol, because the medium chain fatty acids are quickly and easily assimilated by the body they are not stored as fat like long chain fatty acids found in animal products. Studies from around the world have shown that diets where coconuts are a staple in the diet DO NOT suffer from high serum cholesterol OR high rates of heart disease. Another study in the Yucatan, on effects of virgin coconut oil, showed that although people who consumed considerable quantities of the saturated fat, they retained a lean body mass. Another thing that was shown in the Yucatan studies was that women participants didn’t suffer the typical symptoms of menopause. Interestingly the next thing with the most similar properties to it is none other that breast milk! So coconuts truly are ‘Mothers Milk’. Apart from their nutritional value they were also used as emergency intravenous drips during WWII. The coconut juice inside coconuts is sterile and contains sugar so can easily be hooked up as a drip in emergency conditions. Further more matting, shoes and numerous other items are made from the husks so nothing goes to waste. Coconuts really are an amazingly versatile food.
Further to this coconut milk is lower in calories and fats than normal milk and is also obviously lactose free. There aren’t many recipes that coconut milk can’t be used instead of milk, especially desserts, for instance brulee’s, rice puddings, and custards are all fantastic made with coconut milk. Soups, curries, sauces and stir-fries are all enriched with flavour using coconut milk.
So do yourself a favour and make the switch, stock up your cupboard with coconut milk, oil even fresh grated coconut is readily available now for quick chutneys, pickles and desserts.