Saturday, June 25, 2016

5 Ways Coconut Can Benefit Your Brain and Body Quickly

If there’s one healthy fat source that remains to be controversial in today’s nutrition recommendations among professionals and individuals, it’s coconut oil, coconut butter, and most anything else made with the popular tropical fruit.

Some doctors say we should stay away from it because it’s high in saturated fat while other doctors like Dr. Andrew Weil (a very well-respected doctor) now say they no longer tell their patients to avoid it.

Then you have the notion that many individuals testify they feel better eating a low-fat (coconut-free) diet while other people praise the wonders of coconut and all it has done for their weight, mood, and energy levels.

So where does this leave you? What should you do? Eat coconut or avoid it?

While everyone reacts to different sources of healthy fat sources in various ways, coconut is one healthy fat worth taking a second, third, and even fourth look at when considering what healthy fat sources to add to your diet.

Here are five reasons why you should consider getting on board with coconut:

1. Coconut can help boost your liver function naturally.

boost liver function

Let’s get one thing straight first: If you overeat any food, it will put a strain on your liver because it puts the body out of balance. So this benefit of eating coconut is no reason to go all out wild with the healthy fat source, but coconut does have significant benefits for your liver, starting with the way it boosts detoxification processes within the body.

The reason why coconut is so great for your liver and detoxification is because it’s used like carbohydrates are once it enters the bloodstream. It’s used for fuel, not fat storage, and it won’t spike insulin levels when eaten in moderate portions. Coconut can help boost the liver’s ability to use fat for fuel and increase the speed at which it releases toxins from the liver and out of the body via the digestive system.  As a result, it can help boost the cleansing process and increase energy levels naturally.

Just remember that coconut (especially the oil) can be an especially cleansing food if you’re not used to it, so take it slow when you first add coconut products to your diet. Too much can overwhelm the system at once until you adjust to it, but adding a little bit of coconut oil or butter at a time can provide incredible detox benefits you should feel free to take advantage of. It may be helpful to consume coconut with your meals for this reason (versus on an empty stomach).

2. Coconut contains brain-boosting MCTs.

brain health

MCTs are medium-chain-triglyceride fats and they are easily absorbed and used by the body without having to be digested like most healthy fat sources are. As a result of this quick digestion and absorption, they are accessed more easily by the brain to boost mood in a short period of time.

MCT fats also have a ketogenic effect in the body, even if a person is not eating a ketogenic diet. Ketogenic foods like coconut improve the way the body uses fats for fuel which boosts mood naturally without necessarily having to eat a ketogenic (low carb) diet to benefit from them. Other ketogenic foods include salmon, casein, eggs, and macadamia nuts.

It’s important to keep in mind that in order to benefit from coconut’s mood-boosting benefits as much as possible, you should be eating an overall healthy diet, not one filled with junk foods and simply topped with coconut oil. However, if you’re eating a diet rich in produce, low-glycemic whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like coconut, you will likely see great results from adding coconut to your diet in terms of how it can boost your mood quickly and effectively.

3. Coconut is completely cholesterol-free.

Coconut oil, coconut butter, and coconut meat are similar to butter in the ways they have short chain fats that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body, however, coconut is cholesterol-free, unlike butter. It’s also lactose-freeand vegan, so it’s a better option than butter for most people for various reasons. And whether you believe cholesterol from dietary sources is bad or not, it’s still important to consume as many cholesterol-free sources of fat in your diet when you can in place of excessive amounts of butter and animal-based saturated fats. Animal-based fats in excess can lead to heart disease and poor liver health, two major health issues you’ll want to avoid for optimal health.

Your heart health should still be something you consider when eating all sources of fat, and coconut has been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels along with other plant-based sources such as avocados, almonds, and various other nuts and seeds. However, you should still be mindful of how much you consume and not take the benefits of coconut as a right to load up on it since it is still high in saturated fat.

It’s also worth mentioning that coconut has also not been proven to cause inflammation and arterial health problems like butter, cheese, and other cholesterol-rich sources of animal fats either. And, because it’s similar in the ways it can be used like butter, it’s an easy swap you can take advantage of without hassle.

4. Coconut can help decrease sugar cravings.

decrease sugar cravings

All fats can help decrease sugar cravings to an extent because they provide satiety-boosting benefits to any meal or snack. However, coconut is unique because it is higher in protein and fiber than most dense sources of fat (with the exception of nuts and seeds, although they are higher in carbs than coconut).

Coconut is so low-carb and high in protein, fats, and fiber that it helps reduce the need to turn to sugar for quick fuel. The fiber and protein in coconut will boost satiety even more, and they will also provide more blood sugar stabilizing benefits. The MCT fats found in coconut are used for fuel (as mentioned above), so the body doesn’t have a physical need to rely on carbs for fuel for short-term use.

If your sweet tooth kicks in during the afternoon or right after lunch, try having a tablespoon or two of coconut butter instead of a sugary snack. You can also bake with coconut flour in place of regular flour to help your body crave less sugar and carbs found in refined baked goods.

You’ll be surprised at the quick energy boost you feel from eating coconut in place of sugary foods; just remember: a little coconut goes a long way fast!

5. Coconut supports weight loss efforts more easily.

supports weight loss

Coconut is not a prescription for quick weight loss, but because of the factors listed above, it can be a great healthy fat source to include in your diet in order to boost weight loss efforts more easily.

One very easy and effective way to take advantage of eating coconut for weight loss benefits is by adding a teaspoon of coconut butter or oil to your meals three times a day. This might look like a teaspoon in a smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast, a teaspoon melted over some veggies at lunch,and a teaspoon mixed into your dinner entree at night.

This tip is great because the serving size isn’t so much so that you’re eating a large amount of fat multiple times during the day and taking in more saturated fat than you need, but you’re also getting steady stream of coconut’s beneficial fats throughout the day that will provide satiety and energy at each meal.

You can also try replacing butter, other oils, and cheese in your diet with coconut butter (or coconut oil) so that you’re not adding in extra calories to your day from too much overall fat.

Final tips for using coconut in a healthy diet:

tips to using

Remember that you don’t need to be on a low-carb or high-fat diet to take advantage of the health and body benefits that coconut can provide; it’s a wonderful source of healthy fats to include in your diet within moderation.

Other healthy fat sources to include in your diet for weight, mood, and heart-health benefits are:

  • Raw almonds
  • Olives
  • Salmon
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Avocados
  • Acai fruit
  • Durian fruit
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Cacao
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Olive oil (in moderation)

Coconut Buying and Storage Tips:

tips to store

One important tip to remember when purchasing your healthy fats, including coconut, is to always buy them cold-pressed or raw. Heated fats are more prone to go rancid, even those like coconut that are shelf-stable for longer periods of time. Rancid fats are inflammatory to the body and can cause some negative issues you’ll want to avoid, so purchase your fats raw and cold-pressed (or extra-virgin) whenever possible.

Great sources of coconut to include in your diet are:

  • Coconut Butter (also called coconut manna)
  • Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Shreds
  • Coconut Meat

Since coconut keeps longer than most fats at room temperature, you can feel free to leave it in your pantry. If it turns to liquid, it’s nothing to be alarmed about; that’s just because coconut will liquefy at temperatures above 76 degrees, and it will harden back up as it cools down.

If you’d like to return coconut to its normal consistency, just place your coconut butter or oil in the fridge until it’s hardened again. Or, you can keep your coconut products in the fridge if you prefer, and then just remove them an hour or so before using them to allow them to soften back up.

Other Healthy Sources of Coconut: Fat-Free Options

There are also many sources of foods made from coconut that are fat-free you can take advantage of even though they won’t provide the same benefits listed above that whole coconut will.

These include:

  • Coconut Vinegar (a tangy vinegar made from fermented coconut that is similar to apple cider vinegar in blood sugar and detoxification benefits)
  • Coconut Aminos (a soy-free soy sauce alternative that’s lower in sodium than soy sauce or tamari and great for stir-fries and soups)
  • Coconut Water (high in potassium to help keep you hydrated; good for digestion)

People throughout history all over the world have relied on the coconut fruit to provide them with nourishment and health benefits. When we are looking to improve our diets, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and see how those before us and around us thrive while living long, healthy lives.
Coconut is one of many plant-based, healthy fats that you can count on to provide you with a multitude of benefits, so take advantage of it by eating a little more of this amazing fat today. Here are some free coconut recipes to help get you started!

The post 5 Ways Coconut Can Benefit Your Brain and Body Quickly appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

No comments:

Post a Comment