Coconut oil has topped the charts recently as being a “superfood,” with claims of healthful as well as medicinal purposes. Not so long ago in the 1980’s, food companies stopped using coconut oil in their food production and replaced it with partially hydrogenated oils. We now know the hazards of these oils, which have recently been banned by the FDA due to their high trans-fat content. So, what caused such a considerable transformation in the opinion of this tropical wonder fruit, and are the claims true?
There is a use for most every part of the coconut fruit as well as the tree. The sweet and slightly salty coconut water found inside the immature green fruit is full of electrolytes and potassium, is nearly fat-free and is low in calories. The mature fruit however, contains a rich, white lining called the meat. Although it is high in calories and fat, a 1-ounce portion of the raw meat contains 3 grams of fiber.
Even higher in calories (445 each cup, canned) and fat content (48 grams each cup, canned), coconut milk, derived from squeezing the meat, has been shown in a study to have a low negative impact on blood cholesterol. Also used are the flowering buds found on the coconut tree, which produce a nectar that is made into sugar. While it has no beneficial health elements, it does contain a lightly sweet and caramel flavor.
Proponents of coconut oil boast claims of weight loss, along with diabetes, heart disease and arthritis prevention, not to mention the use in the treatment of AIDS and herpes infections along with many other healthful uses. However, YouTube videos on the subject suggest that there is not scientific or medical proof of these claims.