Healthy Days and Nourishing Ways

The official website of Susan Castellano
©2013 Susan Castellano. All rights reserved.
Website design by
Cracking Open the Truth about Coconut
What food boosts the immune system, digests easily, tastes great, has a naturally long shelf life, can be made into a healthy oil both for cooking and the skin, has been used for thousands of years, and has been misrepresented as unhealthy? The one and only coconut. Along with coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut flour, there are a host of products that contain coconut. Soap, lotion, deodorant, and insect repellant are just some of these products.

So why has coconut been misrepresented as unhealthy? Probably because coconut is primarily a saturated fat and saturated fats, especially animal fats, have been labeled as unhealthy. No food is made up solely of one type of fat, but instead of a combination of fats. Coconut oil is about 92% saturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat, and 2% polyunsaturated fat. An advantage to saturated fats is that as a group they are more tolerant to the damaging effects of heat, light, and oxygen and therefore are less likely to form free radicals. Another advantage to using coconut oil is that close to 50% of its saturated fatty acid content is lauric acid.

Lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid, is found in human breast milk and helps protect babies from infection due to their underdeveloped immune systems. Coconut oil has been added to both medical formula for hospital patients and baby formula. It is an easily digestible fat that helps protect delicate immune systems while making it easier for fat soluble vitamins to be metabolized. While coconut oil is strengthening the immune system, it is also acting as a natural antibiotic, fighting unwanted bacteria in the body. It also has antiviral and antifungal properties.

Since coconut oil is comprised primarily of saturated fatty acids, it is a very good fat to use in cooking. It is excellent for baking, frying, and sautéing. Coconut oil can replace the butter or oil in recipes, but experiment with it when baking. Sometimes less coconut oil can be used than the recipe calls for. Coconut oil can be refrigerated but it stores fine in the pantry. It will become soft at about 76 degrees F.

Coconut oil can be used on the skin as a lubricant, but keep it away from the eyes since it can be irritating. It can be rubbed into the scalp to help control dandruff and massaged into the hair to give it both hold and shine. It soothes minor cuts and burns including sunburn.

Coconut water is the liquid found inside of a coconut. This sweet liquid is rich in minerals such as calcium and potassium. Coconut milk is made from grated coconut blended with water and then strained. Coconut flour is rich in fiber and protein and is gluten-free. It can be used to replace a small amount of flour in many recipes. Some muffin and quick bread recipes can be made using all coconut flour.

When purchasing a fresh coconut, shake it to make sure there is liquid inside. Freeze it for one hour, then drain the water out (save this to drink!) by piercing the eyes of the coconut. The coconut meat needs to be pried from the shell then grated either by hand (be careful!) or by using a food processor. The brown skin can be peeled off or left on for more fiber. Or, purchase organic, unsweetened shredded coconut and begin enjoying it right away.

Coconut products have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. What are you waiting for? Don’t let another day go by without enjoying the delicious and nutritious benefits of coconut, giving us more healthy days and nourishing ways!