Coconut and coconut products have risen in popularity over the past few years and when you look into the numerous health and beauty benefits it’s clear why this is the case.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with products such as coconut oil and coconut water, which seem to have flooded the market and are used and endorsed by many fitness and nutrition experts on a daily basis. But there are some coconut products that have slipped under the radar, even though they are as equally beneficial to health, as versatile and as tasty as the more popular, well known products, and we’re keen to let you know more about them.
Before we divulge what these products are, let’s firstly take a look at why coconut is so good for us:
Top Ten Benefits of Coconut
Coconut oil has a very high level of medium chained fatty acids (MCFAs) and this is good! Our bodies love MCFAs because they are very easily absorbed, which makes the transfer of food to energy a much simpler process.
Picture if you will, the journey of coconut oil from mouth to liver:
- Consumption of coconut oil, whether it be as a salad dressing, as a cooking agent, or as an ingredient.
- The coconut oil travels from the stomach down into the intestinal tract.
- Here the components of the coconut oil become separated; some mix into the bloodstream, but the MCFAs are absorbed and transferred to the liver.
- When the MCFAs reach the liver they are converted into energy.
- Boom! Super-charged human firing on all cylinders and ready for action.
So, although coconut oil is a form of fat, it is a good fat; one that can be used as an energy supplier rather than storing up as body fat. This is the reason why many athletes, particularly endurance athletes, use coconut oil as a source of fuel to aid their performance or to help restore energy after an intense training session.
Amino acids are kind of like the building blocks of our body; imagine them as little pieces of Lego with super powers. They fit together, providing a key role in building up the framework of the body, but each one has a unique super power to help our bodies be the best they can.
For example, amino acids help:
- Store nutrients
- Transport nutrients
- Heal wounds
- Repair tissue
- Aid metabolism
- Help with waste removal
- Structure cells
- Transmit brain messages
They are the Marvel superheroes of the human body and guess what…coconut is literally riddled with them!
High in Fibre
We should ideally be consuming about 18g of fibre a day. Now whilst this doesn’t sound a lot, there are many people who don’t get anywhere near this amount and as such suffer the consequences; constipation, discomfort and in extreme circumstances bowel cancer. Amazingly, coconut supplies a whopping 61% of fibre and even better, it is insoluble fibre, which means the body is unable to digest it. You might be thinking, hang a minute that doesn’t sound good, but actually non-digestible means zero calories, zero effect on blood sugar and well (apologies if you’re eating) it helps you poo! There are so many different ways you can incorporate coconut into your daily diet to help increase your fibre consumption. For example, why not try adding some toasted flakes of coconut to your cereal in the morning, or what about a healthy coconut snack bar like these ones from Cocofina (read our review of the Cocofina snack bars here).
We’ve already discovered that coconut is easily absorbed by the body and as such helps provide key nutrients in a simple and effective way, but coconut oil can also help improve gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida, which causes inflammation and poor digestion. As well as being a high fibre food, and containing high levels of MCFAs, coconut is also a big player in helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. Even better, if coconut is consumed at the same time as food containing omega-3 fatty acids, it can double the effectiveness of this absorption. How amazing is that?! Try making a tasty marinade from Coconut Vinegar, Coconut Oil, ginger, chilli, garlic and a dash of Coconut Amino. Rub it over some salmon fillets and leave to soak up the flavours in the fridge overnight. Pan fry the marinated salmon and use any left over marinade as a delicious sauce for some stir fried vegetables to serve as an accompaniment to the salmon. An amazing tasty and nutritious dinner that your tummy will thank you for!
Boosts the Immune System
Coconut oil has long been known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and is used by many people around the world as a natural treatment against yeast infections, acne, dry skin and dandruff to name but a few. Coconut oil consists of over 40% lauric acid, which is in fact the richest source naturally available, and it is the lauric acid in coconut oil that fights bacteria and helps create a hostile environment for any lurking viruses.
Helps Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
Have you heard of the term oil pulling? It’s not a painting technique, and it’s not the name of an event at a strong man competition, or even a new hair technique for adding gloss and shine to your locks (although coconut oil is fantastic for that too!). No, oil pulling is in fact a traditional mouth cleaning method that has been used for centuries to help destroy bacteria and to reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Coconut oil is one of the most effective oils for oil pulling because of its high concentration of antibacterial MCFAs. To oil pull you need to swish a small quantity of oil in your mouth; the Cocofina 10ml Coconut Oil sachets are an ideal amount and are easy to squeeze into the mouth without making a mess. Just doing this three times a week for 20 minutes a day should be enough for you to start noticing a difference in your gum health.
Good for Weight loss
Whilst we’re not recommending you smother all your food in vast quantities of oil, there is proof that including coconut oil as part of a healthy diet and making a few sensible swaps, will help burn fat, decrease appetite and in turn aid weight loss. As we mentioned previously, coconut oil contains high levels of MCFAs and because these are metabolized quickly in the liver, the result is increased levels of energy. But one of the other benefits of foods rich in MFCAs is that they have higher rates of satiety, which in simple terms means you feel fuller sooner and for longer. In a study published in the Obesity Research Journal, scientists from Boston University Medical School discovered that MFCAs break down in the body at such a rate that it tricks the body into thinking it is fasting. The effect of this is that the body turns to its stored fat supplies to produce energy and then it’s bye bye fat, hello weight loss!
Studies have shown that the saturated fat in coconut oil, particularly lauric acid, can help balance hormones. This makes it a great choice for women entering the menopause.
It’s those MCFAs again! These super fatty acids are at it again, as they help balance insulin levels by providing the body with a good alternative source of energy that it may otherwise have got from glucose. If your body can’t produce enough insulin, it allows more glucose to enter the bloodstream and this can lead to an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Low GI foods help keep blood sugar levels low, which is why coconut vinegar (a GI of 35) is such a great product to introduce into your daily diet. For more ideas of how to use coconut vinegar read our blog post – ‘What to do with Coconut Vinegar!’.
And on to our final benefit of coconut, (although there’s a whole heap more that coconut can do for you that we simple can’t fit into this article!) and it’s a good one. Coconut contains a really high level of antioxidants and anything that contains these bad boys are great at fighting the aging process, which we LOVE! Whether you eat it, drink it or rub it on your skin, coconut can make you look and feel amazing. So, whilst your friends are out getting topped up with Botox, you just keep on using those coconut products – cheaper, natural, pain free and delicious
At the start of this article we promised you a look at some of the exciting new coconut products that have emerged onto the market and rather sneakily we’ve already given you a bit of a look within the benefits chart above.
Worked it out?
Yes, the new products in question are the range of Coconut Vinegars and Coconut Amino from Cocofina.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until Cocofina sent us some of their new products to try, that I’d even heard of Coconut Vinegar. I certainly haven’t seen it on the shelves at my local supermarket and as for Coconut Amino…what even is that!
For an in depth review of of these new products along with some tasty recipes and ideas of what to do with them, head over to our blog post – ‘What to do with Coconut Vinegar’.
Find out more from the Coconut Experts
Art of Healthy Living love discovering new products from companies who clearly know what they’re talking about. But most importantly we love to share our discoveries with our readers and we think it’s only fair that we get right down to the nitty gritty and dig deeper into the minds of the people behind these products.
For this article we’re focusing on the coconut experts at Cocofina, who handled our interview questions like true pros and gave us a fab insight into why Cocofina products are so amazing!
Check it out…
Who are Cocofina?
“We are ‘the coconut experts’. Our founder, Jacob Thundil, originates from Kerala in the southern most point of India. As it happens, Kerala in Sanskrit translates as ‘Land of Coconuts’ and as a young boy he was a huge fan of all forms of coconut became fascinated with many of its uses. Jacob combined his passion for the fruit with his technical background to research and formulate the best tasting, healthy coconut products. Cocofina is now in its 11th year and Cocofina products are sold in 25 countries around the world. 2015 has been the most successful year so far for the brand, seeing it win seven Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food.”
Why are you called Cocofina?
“The word Cocofina literally means ‘finest coconuts’!”
What was the moment of inspiration for Cocofina?
“In 2004 Jacob was relaxing on a beach in Brazil, whilst sipping on a coconut and contemplating a new start-up. Given his passion for coconuts, starting was easy…the answer was in his hands! The journey truly began when he set out to find the best tasting coconuts. His discovery of a special species of coconut that was small and sweet, was a great find for Cocofina. Cocofina coconut water received its first Excellence in Food and Drink Award in 2005 where the judges rightly said, ‘people who want healthy food and drinks will go for Cocofina’.”
Tell us about your new range of coconut vinegars…what’s so special about coconut vinegar?
“Our coconut vinegar is organic; 100% made from organic coconut water, and is tasty, healthy and natural.
In terms of health benefits:
- It is packed full of amino acids and minerals, which produce vital proteins and helps the body to absorb nutrients.
- It can help lower blood sugar levels in the body
- It can help to pathogens in the body
- It can act as a natural preservative
- It has been used for centuries as a natural antiseptic.
How is your coconut vinegar made?
“It is made by fermenting organic coconut water until it becomes vinegar. We extract the 100% natural coconut water from mature coconuts and add an acetobacter aceti culture. This culture consumes all the natural sugar in the fermentation process leaving behind the unrefined, zero calorie vinegar.”
Who are you aiming your coconut vinegar at?
“Health conscious people looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle that like products that are a little different to traditional variants with increased, natural health benefits.”
How can I use Cocofina products?
“Most of our range is in a number of different recipes that you can get inspiration for by visiting the Cocofina YouTube channel.”
“You can purchase Cocofina products from:
- Our website www.cocofina.com
- As Nature Intended
- Planet Organic
- and in over 1,500 Health and Speciality stores throughout the UK.”
What are your plans for the future?
“In 2016 we are launching 11 innovative new and very exciting products that continue to show that Cocofina are leading the way in coconut-based food production.”
What is the ‘big dream’?
“To maintain our high level of innovation, bringing new products to health conscious consumers and food enthusiasts, whilst continuing to be regarded as the ‘coconut experts’.”
Describe Cocofina vinegars in three words.
“Raw, unfiltered and tangy!”
Cocofina currently have 24 products, ranging from:
- Coconut Oil
- Coconut Waters
- Snack Bars (see our review here)
- Coconut Vinegars (see our review and recipe ideas here)
- Coconut Amino
- Coconut Sugar
- Coconut Flour
- Coconut Chips
- Coconut Butter
- Coconut Blossom Nectar
The 3 Coconut Vinegars; Natural, Chilli and Nutmeg, along with the Coconut Amino; a free-from alternative to soy sauce that contains no MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and has 75% less sodium, are set to appear at this years Natural & Organic Products Europe Show at Excel, London in April, where Cocofina will be showcasing their products and demonstrating the innovative product development that has got them where they are today.