I find the use of “coconuts” in the Paleo diet pretty amusing. People use coconut milk, coconut oil and drink themselves silly with Coconut water but rarely actually use an actual freaking coconut unless its to hold some boozy drink at a party (not judging… they’re freaking delicious).
I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the different aspects of a coconut and decide what is good for us and what we should discard.
People seemingly either love or hate this stuff. I personally enjoy the taste of the VitaCoco and Zico brands while others have a really metallic flavor to me. The good news is that coconut water has a bunch of healthy electrolytes. The bad news is that it also has a ton of sugar in it as well. If you’re looking to lose body-fat then you need to stay away from this stuff.
I’ve heard people say its great for post-workout but the problem is that it actually is missing some of the necessary salts that really optimize rehydration. So I probably wouldn’t use it for that purpose either… In the end, we probably want to avoid it all together for health purposes. Social purposes… well that’s another story all-together.
The base of a thousand amazing different curry recipes out there, coconut milk is one of the most adaptable ingredients in my opinion. While its creamy and has a unique flavor, it blends well with so many spices as well making it extremely useful.
Nutritionally, its fantastic as well as its loaded with healthy saturated fats like lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides (AKA the oil that people pour into their bulletproof coffee). Sounds great, right? Well, the problem is all the other shit that goes into the commercial coconut milk that we buy. MOST brands that you’ll find at the local store have BPA and guar gum in them as well.
The literature on BPA is a little inconclusive but there are enough studies out there linking it to everything from obesity to cancer to make me worry… especially if I was a pregenant mom. Seriously, look at this review and find me something that isn’t terrifying. One more point, BPA isn’t just in canned coconut milk, its in many other canned products as well…
Guar gum is one of those things that some people have no problem with while others experience intestinal distress from it. If you’re one of those people, you should avoid common canned coconut milk.
Good news though! There are a couple of new brands of coconut milk out there that do not put BPA or GG into their products that I would highly recommend. If you live in a city, you can probably find these at a local store. If not, then Amazon is your place!
Also, if you have IBD or IBS, you want to avoid coconut milk for additional reasons that are a little beyond the scope of this post. It has to do with the FODMAP diet if you’re really interesting in learning more.
I use coconut oil to cook pretty much everything from sweet potatoes to steaks with. Why? coconut oil has all those great saturated fats like lauric acid and MCTs as well that I mentioned above. Lauric acid in general has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
There are different qualities of coconut oil, with the higher end products having a more distinct coconut flavoring. Overall though, most of the time, the oil itself will not overpower the rest of your food. I usually get mine in bulk (read: 1 gallon) from Tropical traditions but there are many other great brands out there as well. I highly recommend integrating coconut oil into your cooking going forward.
Overall, I think coconuts are amazing and extremely helpful as part of your diet. As with most things, the higher quality products you can get, the less you have to worry about with things like BPA, etc.