Coconut products including coconut water, coconut creamer and coconut yogurt are the latest foods to hit the mainstream market and with celebrity backing they are on their way to fame.
Coconut water is the hazy fluid from the inside of a young, green coconut. Coconut water products on the market include Vita Coco and O.N.E. One cup of coconut water has 45 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrate and ½ gram of fat. It is a good source of potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. It is a better alternative to drinks such as soda. Some exercise enthusiasts are using it as a sports drink for rehydration. However, a cup of coconut water contains 25mg of sodium versus 41mg of sodium in a sports drink. Sodium, not potassium is the most critical nutrient for athletes. Coconut water is not adequate to meet the specific electrolyte needs of an athlete. Water is the recommended way to hydrate and a specially formulated sports drink is best for an hour or more of moderate to high intensity exercise.
Coconut oil and coconut milk, such as So Delicious, are extracted from the flesh on the inside of a mature coconut. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which makes it a useful oil to fry in as it has a high smoke point and is not quick to go rancid. Coconut milk is the foundation for a variety of coconut products such as coconut creamer, coconut yogurt and coconut frozen desserts. It is a poor source of calcium at 40 – 100 mg per one cup serving versus 300 mg in a cup of cow’s milk. A cup of coconut milk has 50 grams of saturated fat and approximately 550 calories. It is best to limit intake of saturated fats to no more than 10% of your daily calories, which would be 22 grams based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Saturated fat increases low density lipoproteins or LDL’s in your blood. It is desirable for heart health to keep LDL levels low. See my article on Fat Terms for more information. The light versions of coconut milk that contain 80 calories and 5 grams of fat per cup, are a better alternative for use in recipes such as Chicken Tikka Masala.
There are outlandish health claims associated with coconut products including the ability to boost metabolism, fight infections, treat kidney problems, and cure cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It is important to know that the scientific evidence to support these claims is very weak.