What's all the fuss about this tropical delight? Turns out it's good for you inside and out. "They call it a functional food because it has so many uses," says Jude Jakob, nutrition educator at our Los Gatos store. The truth is that this sweet fruit is filled with fatty acids such as lauric, capric and caprylic, all of which serve special health functions. Stop by Pharmaca today to explore the delicious and beneficial ways you could be using coconut.
"One-third of the world uses coconut, has always used it, in tropical areas," says Jude. "It's an antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral." She adds that it has long been used for influenza, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, candida and more, and can be used internally or topically.
"It has medium chain fatty acids in it, which specifically help with cardiovascular function," she says, adding that it can even help with insulin resistance and periodontal disease.
So how do we incorporate this superfood into our daily lives? Jude loves a probiotic called Inner-Eco, made with a coconut water base, or pure coconut waters from O.N.E. or Amy & Brian's that are filled with potassium and electrolytes.
You can also supplement with a few tablespoons per day of pure coconut oil. "As with all oils, you want it to be raw, unrefined and organic," says Jude. Look for coconut oils from Nature's Way, Barlean's and Jarrow Formulas. You can even replace traditional vegetable or corn oils with it for a more heart-healthy way to cook.
More recently, coconut oil has been used as a weight-loss measure, since it has been shown to increase metabolism, thyroid function and energy levels. In addition, coconut oil is a laxative, and thus can help move toxins through the system more quickly (just be careful-diarrhea can be a side effect).
And the list goes on. Coconut oil can serve as a digestive aid, since its antimicrobial characteristics combat bad bacteria in the gut. It can aid in the absorption of vital nutrients like calcium and magnesium, and it can even help block UV rays when applied to the skin.
Monique Pyette, an esthetician at Los Gatos, loves it for just about anywhere. "We use it as an antifungal in skin care, which is great for eczema, psoriasis and dandruff," Monique says. She likes to use the coconut oil, which solidifies at room temperature, as an easy makeup remover, or as a mask to infuse hydration into hair. And she loves MyChelle's new Sun Shield Coconut SPF 28, a mineral sunscreen with the added benefits of coconut oil.
Other coconut products to try:
Pharmaca's new Coconut & Vanilla Lip Balm
Home Health's Almond Glow Coconut Skin Lotion
Coconut-filled energy bars from Revolution Raw or Kind Bars
Coconut KeVita Probiotic Drinks
With this many uses, coconut is bound to be beneficial to your health in some way. As Jude says, "It's amazing how things like this in nature are so packed with uses!"