The exotic fruit coconut has been a longtime staple in many Pacific and Asian diets with what many cultures refer to as “The Tree of Life.” According to CoconutResearchCenter.org, the scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. The site states that Spanish explorers named it this due to its appearance. Coco means “monkey face” and is attributed to its indentations and hairy outer shell. Nucifera means “nut bearing.”
“The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations.” Research on the site also supports that it is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They refer to it as a “functional” food because it is extremely versatile.
Researchers show that the various parts of the coconut can help raise your HDL cholesterol levels. These are the good cholesterol levels and are referred to as High-density lipoproteins.
According to the MayoClinic.com, “These lipoproteins are often referred to as HDL, or "good," cholesterol. They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in your blood and taking it back to your liver where it's broken down. The higher your HDL level, the less "bad" cholesterol you'll have in your blood.”
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy coconut as well as coconut milk and coconut water:
Mix together: 1 tbsp. of Coconut, ½ cup pineapple, 1 cup of coconut water, 3/4 cup of water and ice. Blend in blender until smooth.
PEANUT BUTTER COCONUT SHAKE
• 1 Cup of Coconut Milk
• 1 scoop of Vanilla Whey Protein
• 2 Tbsp. of Natural Coconut Flakes
• 1 Tbsp. of Natural Peanut Butter
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Thicken with ice.
LEMON COCONUT PARFAIT
• small packet of sugar-free lemon jello
• 4 tbsp. of light whipped topping
• 2 tbsp. of sulfite-free natural coconut
Mix jello according to package directions. Let set in refrigerator. Layer jello mixture, whipped topping and coconut, repeat. Makes 2 servings.
• 1/2 pkg. of sugar-free vanilla pudding
• 1 cup of skim milk, almond or coconut milk
• 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein powder
• ½ cup of cooked oatmeal
• 2 tablespoons of light whipped topping
• 4 tbsp. of natural, sulfite-free coconut
• Dash of cinnamon
(Mix pudding with milk; add the whey, then whipped topping; fold in coconut and oatmeal. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon)
Serving Size 1 cup
Reviewed August 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training. Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.