Every now and then, there is a mad buzz about the latest health food that is touted as the best thing since green juice and Coconut oil has been doing the rounds for a while now. If you’ve read any of my dessert recipes, you will see that coconut oil or coconut “butter” is used quite a bit, especially for cakes and biscuits.
One of the questions I get asked fairly often is:
What is the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter?
Here’s the slightly adapted lowdown on this awesome nut from the team at I Quit Sugar.
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. There is a plethora of uses for this stuff in both cooking and skin care, largely due to its versatility at different heats. At room temperature this oil becomes liquid and when cooled it hardens to a solid state. When choosing a brand always opt for organic, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is much better to cook with than olive oil as it has a much higher smoke point making it healthier for you. We use Lucy Bee for all our coconut needs.
Coconut butter is the flesh of the coconut which has been ground into a butter. It is creamier than the oil, and makes a great dairy-free spread.
Coconut flakes are the dried, flaked meat of the coconut. They can be enjoyed raw or lightly toasted and make a great textural addition to recipes. When possible opt for organic.
Dessicated coconut is coconut meat that has been shredded or flaked and then dried to remove as much moisture as possible. Of all the forms of dried coconut this is generally the finest.
Shredded coconut is similar to desiccated coconut but has a coarser texture.
Fresh coconut water is the tasty, clear liquid inside young coconuts. It is full of 5-key electrolytes making it great for hydration and transports you to an island holiday with every sip. Coconut water also comes bottled or packaged for convenience. Beware of flavoured or sweetened products. They should contain 100% coconut water and nothing else and harvested as naturally as possible.
Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut. The rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high saturated fat and oil content. Always choose the full fat version. Coconut milk is great added to curries but also makes a delicious dairy-free milk alternative. Drizzle it on your porridge or use it as a base for smoothies.
Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water giving it a thicker, paste-like texture. Use it much like you would coconut milk in all types of sweet and savoury dishes.
Coconut flour is made by dehydrating coconut meat, and then grinding it into a flour. It’s a great gluten-free alternative with fewer carbohydrates than many other flours and a significantly higher fibre and protein content. Coconut flour is versatile enough to be used as a substitute to wheat flour in baking and savoury dishes, but be mindful that coconut flour soaks up liquid like a sponge. You may have to up your liquid ingredients to accommodate.
Okay, so we get that this awesome nut comes in many different forms, but what is it good for?
What isn’t it good for? This magical wondernut has been bestowed with a plethora of gifts and uses:
But what makes it good for you?
IQS is breaking it down for us:
Ok, let’s make this science bit as simple as possible; Coconut oil is mostly made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. MCFAs are smaller than most fatty acids. They permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require special enzymes to be used effectively by your body. In addition, MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system.
It helps you lose weight
MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. On top of this, MCFAs help stimulate your body’s metabolism, and increases the activity of the thyroid. MCFAs are transported directly to the liver, promoting “thermogenesis” which increases the body’s metabolism, leading to weight loss.
It curbs sugar cravings and energy slumps
Because MCFAs go straight to your liver to be used as energy, coconut oil is a source of instant energy to your body, much like when you eat simple carbohydrates. But although both carbs and coconut oil deliver quick energy to your body, the latter does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. The former does. This saves you from a slump, and is good news for anyone struggling with insulin and craving issues.
It’s the healthiest oil to cook with
Coconut oil has a super high smoke point, which means it can be cooked to high temperatures (fried etc) without becoming unstable and thus oxidising in the body. It’s also the only oil to remain stable enough while still helping to promote heart health, support weight loss and thyroid function. Use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes, particularly those requiring frying and high temperatures.
It’s anti-viral and anti-fungal
Fifty per cent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Interestingly, the only other place it can be found is in breast milk. Lauric acid is considered a “miracle” ingredient because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Coconut oil is also great for candida.
There are many advantages to boosting your metabolic rate: your body’s healing process accelerates, cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall. When your immune system is functioning well, your body will be less inflamed.
It’s REALLY good for thyroid issues
It’s great on your skin
Coconut oil, applied as a moisturizer, is absorbed into your skin and connective tissues, where it helps keep your connective tissues supple and strong, which helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and lines. Coconut oil on your skin also acts as an exfoliator for the outer layer of dead skin cells. Smooth!
So with the 9 different forms it’s available in combined with the uses for it in all it’s forms, makes 36 ways to use coconut. What an awesome nut.
What’s your favourite use for coconut oil?