The coconut revolution is upon us. Just a few years ago, coconut milk and desiccated coconut were the only products we’d see in our shops. But we now have access to an abundance of natural coconut products: coconut oil, coconut water, coconut cream, coconut flour, coconut chunks, coconut sugar, and even coconut yoghurt. And coconut is increasingly used as an ingredient in other foods too – such as our delicious Ombars!
So what has made coconut so popular and a great choice for healthy diets and lifestyles? Here are five reasons.
Firstly, coconut products make an easy, delicious and healthy alternative to dairy foods: coconut milk and cream for dairy milk and cream, and coconut oil for butter.
But why avoid dairy?
One of the main reasons is that allergy or intolerance reactions to dairy foods may be on the rise. Most of us have heard of an intolerance to lactose – the natural sugar in dairy – which can cause digestive problems. Reactions to the proteins in dairy, such as casein, may also be common. A true allergic reaction will tend to show up as an immediate response such as wheezing, chest tightness, nausea or a rash, whereas an intolerance reaction may cause more vague or long-lasting symptoms such as skin problems or sinus congestion. If you have this type of symptom, it may be worth avoiding dairy altogether for one to two months to see if things improve. (Seek advice from a nutritionist if you are thinking of giving up dairy long-term.)
Some people choose to avoid dairy foods because they contain substances that may have detrimental effects for our health. These include hormones and ‘growth factors’ – proteins that promote growth in young animals. Non-organic dairy products can contain traces of antibiotics, too, as these are commonly given to the animals to protect against infections.
Because dairy foods also contain nutrients and protective substances, the jury is out on whether dairy has overall beneficial or negative effects for our health. But for those who prefer to avoid it, coconut products provide an ideal alternative.
Coconut is high in fat, but a proportion of this is in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are absorbed and used in a different way in our bodies to the longer-chain fatty acids that make up the majority of animal fats (including dairy). Whereas longer-chain fatty acids circulate around the body and can easily be stored in body tissues, MCFAs travel to the liver first, where they can be converted into energy. This means coconut’s MCFAs may even help with weight loss, as well as boosting energy. In fact, this energising effect is the main reason coconut oil has proved popular with sportspeople for helping with energy and performance.
MCFAs can have mild anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects too, meaning they may help to improve gut health and help protect against infection.
Another great thing about coconut products is that they fit well into most healthy diets. These include, of course, vegetarian and vegan diets, but also gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo diets, low-carb diets, and for those who simply choose to eat ‘real foods’ and avoid processed foods.
Coconut flesh – as in coconut flakes, chunks, desiccated coconut or coconut flour – is really high in fibre and very low in natural sugars. This makes these forms of coconut fantastic for filling you up. Because coconut digests slowly, it also slows down your digestion of carbohydrates (such as those in your breakfast porridge) and helps balance your blood sugar, keeping your energy on an even keel and helping prevent cravings for sweet or carbohydrate-rich foods. This is another reason why coconut may be helpful for managing your weight.
Coconut and Ombar
Coconuts provide two of the amazing natural ingredients we use to make Ombars. Creamed coconut lends its delicious creaminess to Ombar Centres Raspberry & Coconut and Coconut & Vanilla bars, as well as the Coconut 60%, Coco Mylk and Strawberry Mylk bars and Coco Mylk buttons. Small amounts of natural unrefined coconut sugar are also used to give a lower-GI natural sweetness to all our bars and buttons.
Why is coconut good for you?