Raw Energy: Benefits of raw coconut

By Brenda Richter

A young thai coconut is nutritionally preferred over the traditional coconut variety. The traditional variety (with the brown, furry-like outer shell), can be decades old.

A young coconut between six and nine months contains between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of “water.” Coconuts in their young stage of growth are the most health-enhancing.

As the coconut matures, its juice eventually becomes hard flesh, and it loses some of its nutritional benefits.

Thai, or young water coconuts, are immature coconuts. Young coconuts look white because the green outside is cut away before they are shipped. Ripe, mature coconuts are the brown ones commonly found. A coconut without liquid indicates spoilage.

Coconut offers two great bonuses. First, with all the latest talk about sports drinks lately, why hasn’t any of these articles mentioned coconut water? Coconut water is one of the highest sources of electrolytes known. It is a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance that we have in our blood, but with less sodium, more potassium, magnesium and added medicinal benefits.

Electrolytes are salts with electricity conductive properties. Throughout our body tissue, fluid and blood, electrolytes conduct charges that are essential for muscle contractions, heartbeats, fluid regulation and general nerve function. Chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are the chief minerals in electrolytes. A diet too low in these minerals can cause muscle cramps and heart palpitations. (Dulse replenishes electrolytes, too). Plasma makes up 55 percent of human blood, and coconut water is identical to human blood plasma. By drinking coconut water, we give ourselves an instant blood transfusion. Sports drinks are often full of processed sugars, artificial flavors and additives, (aka “liquid crack”).

Coconut meat is a medium-chain saturated fat, yet has several health benefits. Your body utilizes this type of fat nearly effortlessly, unlike saturated fats that do not contain medium-chain triglycerides. Your liver quickly converts medium-chain triglycerides into energy. Coconut oil is the only fat that can be heated to high temperatures without being converted into trans fats. Note, processed sweetened coconut does not have the same health benefits.

Many find coconuts difficult to open. Really, they are rather simple to open, and there and many ways to utilize the meat and water in other recipes. With my easy, can-do techniques and recipes, young thai coconuts are easy to utilize in my raw food classes. For a class schedule and more information, go to my website, myrawenergy@yahoo.com.

Brenda Richter is a graduate of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, where she received her certification as a Raw Culinary Arts associate chef and instructor. She’s passionate about sharing the living foods lifestyle with others, and teaches raw culinary arts classes in the Rockford area.

From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue

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