Nuts about Cocunuts“Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up, put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up….”
(Okay, do I have you singing along right now and is there a goofy smile on your face?) I love coconuts—and you will too! I’ve been reading a lot about the positive effects that coconuts have on your health. Here’s the basic 411.

THIS IS A RAW, UNPROCESSED FOOD

I consider myself an omnivore but I strongly believe that the consumption of raw, vegan, unprocessed food is some of the best food for you. My diet has evolved into 80% (give or take) raw vegan diet and raw coconuts have become an integral part of it.

A LITTLE BIT OF “WHY?”

Coconuts are comprised mostly of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).Thermogenesis is the rate that the body burns fuel. A unique quality of the MCTs is their ability to increase the rate at which the body burns fat for fuel.Sounds great for an athlete, right? You have heard of “hitting the wall” in a marathon or “bonking” in a bike race. This is athlete code for “my body has run out of glycogen and now is having a hard time converting the fat in my body to energy, aaahhhhhhh!”. Your body might even be giving you the finger, I don’t know….The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia. As a result of these various health benefits of coconut oil, though its exact mechanism of action was unknown, it has been extensively used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicinal system.I also think that if you are attempting to lose weight, the addition of coconuts to your diet can be beneficial to your process because the MCTs are quicker to metabolize and therefore less likely to contribute to fat storage. Eating coconuts is a no-brainer for me. If you can convert my fat faster into energy, my athletic performance is probably going to improve and I probably won’t gain fat. And you will reap a whole host of benefits that the eating of fresh coconuts can do for you.

THEY TASTE GREAT

At least they do to me. Yes, food is subjective. You might not like the same things that I do and vice versa. For example, I don’t like raw yellow onions. Or saffron. Or dill. But that is me.

A coconut will yield about 12-16 oz of fluid (called coconut water—not to be confused with coconut milk, which you buy in a can and is a puree of the meat and water) and about ½-3/4 cup of meat. So for a buck or two you have a tasty one-to-two serving drink which is a lot cheaper and way more beneficial to your body (coconut water is FULL of ELECTROLYTES) than any sport or “energy” drink (the latter of the two couldn’t be further from the truth, but that’s a whole other post…) PLUS you get a half a cup of a meat to play around with.The other day I biked for two hours and took one bottle of plain water and one bottle of coconut water. When I hit the apex of the hill, I opened my coconut water and took a couple of swigs. It tasted sooooo good.

THEY’RE CHEAP

I have seen for as little $.66 a piece at a local Asian market and up to $2.50 at Whole Foods. There is a little bit of labor to open them up and extract the water and meat, but I think that this is fun and fairly therapeutic. Once cracked and cleaned, you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment. Some people might find this to be too much work but I like the hands-on connection with the food I eat.

HOW TO OPEN THEM

Note: This requires your full attention. While I think that coconut consumption is GREAT, you do not want lose a finger at the expense of opening one.

Method

Place coconut on its side. With a dull knife or cleaver, whack the coconut with the heaviest part of the knife/utensil parallel to the bottom about 2/3 of the way up (just where it starts to turn into a point). Continue until you have about a one inch slit. Place coconut over a receptacle to catch the water (make sure it is a least a 2 cup unit). Drain water out of it. Resume whacking the circumference of the coconut until it is separated into two pieces. Using a spoon, scrape the meat out of it.

COCONUT WATER

Drink it in place of anything where you would use water

COCONUT MEAT

Usage? It depends. The texture will vary depending on the age of the coconut. The younger it is, the more gelatinous it is. The meat is reminiscent of a jellyfish—translucent and jiggly. An older nut will yield a firmer meat—a little more rubbery in texture and opaque.You never know what you are going to get, so I recommend buying several at a time if you are searching for a particular consistency.

Basic Coconut Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 8 oz coconut water or other liquid
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup coconut meat
  • 1 Cup fruit (berries or pineapple are good)

Method

Combine ingredients in blender. Process until smooth. Drink. Enjoy!

Further Reading:

Characteristics of Organic Coconut Oil
How is Virgin Coconut Oil Manufactured?
What is Extra Virgin Coconut?