Weight Loss

A Diet Of Coconut?

There has been quite a whirlwind around coconuts and the opposing opinions on its health benefits.

Should you include coconut on a weight loss diet or healthy eating plan?coconuts

The answer, like always is yes, BUT, in moderation.

There are many ways to consume coconut. Coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flesh dried and fresh and coconut oil.

Coconuts are eaten around the world in sweet and savoury dishes, foods and beverages. More recently there has been a huge rise in its popularity. But why the hype?

Coconut Water

Coconut water  is quite popular in supermarkets these days. Fresh, refrigerated, tetra pack. Coconut water is virtually fat free and is hailed the natural sports drink as it is high in electrolytes. The combination of the potassium, magnesium combined with the high levels of obviously water but also sugar.

Coconut water is a great natural alternative to a sports drink for an athlete. As it is natural there are no artificial colours, sugars and as it is high in electrolytes, it is thirst quenching.

Although for us regular exercisers walking the block or riding a bicycle with the kids, there is not enough sweat lost to need to replace it with an electrolyte drink, whether natural or a processed sports drink.

Of course, if you like the flavour, go for it. But make sure you stick to the plain version, there are fruit flavoured ones which have added sugar.

People often discuss its high levels of potassium as being a wonder drink. If you are consuming your required serves of fruits and vegetables you are probably getting enough potassium. Remember as well, part of the reason we eat fruits and vegetables is because of the fibre. Drinking the water (or juice) means you do not get that benefit.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is not the same as the coconut water. It is the milk that is extracted from the pressing of the coconut flesh.

It is often used in Asian dishes such as Thai and Indian. Although these foods are delicious they can be quite high in fat, in particular saturated fat. The fat content can vary between milks and even creams so make sure you check the back of the can. The lower varieties are around 6grams of fat per 100ml, the higher varieties have up to 22grams of fat.

Coconut cream is similar to the milk in that it is processed in a similar fashion but is thicker and often higher in fat.

Coconut flesh (dried)

Coconut in general is incredibly high in saturated fat but it is also a great source of iron, fibre and manganese. Manganese is a trace mineral and involved in many enzyme reactions within the body including protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

Coconut oil

90% of the coconut oil is from saturated fat. Although the saturated fatty acids in coconut are short to medium in length and are digested easier than some other long chain fatty acids which are found in meats or dairy.

Because of these short to medium chain fatty acids, the oil is very stable and is a good oil for manufacturing, pan frying or baking as it does not go rancid.

Fat

There are varying views in terms of saturated fats and their benefits or issues of concern. The reason people are recommended to steer clear of saturated fat is due to the link towards heart disease.

Although in saying that, care needs to be taken to not substitute the reduction in fat or saturated fat intake with other foods which are not beneficial for your health, i.e. sugar laden or artificial additives or ingredients.

The plan should always be moderation.

Of course, eat your coconut, but be aware that it is high in fat and if you are trying to lose weight, calorie intake is important in weight loss. A healthy eating plan is one based on natural foods and really it is all about balance, moderation and mindful eating.

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mandy-dos-santos
written by:

Amanda Dos Santos

Mandy is an experienced Nutritionist, food scientist and writer with over 10 years experience in the Heath industry. She has been part of the Healthy Mummy team of experts since 2012, writing informative and current blog posts and contributing to our recipe books. She has played an integral part in creating the recipes on our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges since they first started in July 2014.Mandy is a mum of three and loves working for The Healthy Mummy, ”Especially on the challenges as I can create recipes which empower women to create nourishing food for themselves and their families’."