Coconut Water & Coconut Milk
Last week I told you about coconut oil. This week I'm going to share a little information about coconut water and coconut milk. First a quick re-cap.
Coconut Oil is an edible oil extracted from the meat of a mature coconut. Major health and medical organizations around the world recommend against eating significant amounts of coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fat. And there is no evidence that taking coconut oil will help you lose fat, gain muscle, cure any disease or live longer. Got it?
Coconut Water Facts: Coconut Water is the clear liquid found inside young coconuts. Coconut water is much lower in fat and calories than coconut oil. To consume the same 117 calories found in one TABLESPOON of coconut oil, you'd have to drink more than 2.5 CUPS of coconut water. It's also much lower in fat than the oil, with those same 2.5 cups giving you only 1.2 grams of fat.
Just because coconut water is lower in fat and calories, doesn't mean it's a healthy choice. To promote it as a heart-healthy drink, marketers point out that it's a good source of potassium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure. What the marketers ignore is that potassium works best when combined with other beneficial nutrients like vitamin D and fiber. The best way to get all those together is from low-fat milk and veggies like broccoli and spinach, not glasses of coconut water.
The fat loss and metabolism-boosting claims attributed to coconut water are pure fantasy. It might have gotten started by people pushing coconut water as a natural sports drink. One of the critical ingredients you need after exercise is potassium, and coconut water has a lot. That's good, but after an intense workout, you also need to replace sodium, which coconut water has very little of. If you're an extreme or elite athlete, you're better off with traditional sports drinks that combine potassium and higher levels of sodium. For everyone else, regular water is the best form of hydration.
Anti-aging claims come from the discovery of the plant hormones cytokinins found in coconut water. There is a kernel of truth in that' if you're a fruit fly or plant it's been shown to work in the lab. But no study has shown cytokinins help humans live longer.
It reminds me of when researchers discovered that antioxidants in food are a great way to reduce the risk of cancer and live a healthier life. So they put antioxidants in pills and sold them as a way to extend life. All they did was kill people sooner. Click Here for the Antioxidant story.
Finally, if you're using coconut water as a hangover cure, you're wasting your time. It will help you replenish your fluid levels, but regular water does the exact same thing. Drinking coconut water after a bender only piles more calories onto the empty ones you consumed when you had the alcohol.
Coconut Milk Facts: Coconut milk is a combination of coconut water, coconut meat and the extracted coconut oils and aromatic compounds. Drink a cup of coconut milk and you take in 467 calories, 50 grams of fat (nearly 80% of what's allowed in a typical day) and 44 grams of saturated fat (225% of your daily allowance!)
People often confuse coconut milk for coconut water and end up drinking a caloric disaster. While it's certainly very tasty, you would have to eat four Big Macs from McDonald's to match the saturated fat intake of a single cup of coconut milk. Plus, there are no medical studies showing coconut milk offers any nutritional benefit other than fat and calories. When recipes call for it, we suggest trying to substitute a mix of fat-free milk and coconut water or coconut extract. Otherwise, use it VERY sparingly.
Coconut water and coconut milk are not supplements to be taken to lose fat, extend life or lower your risk of illness. If you buy them for that, you'll only be disappointed. They're nothing more than ingredients to be used (sparingly) when cooking.
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