You might call it a cultural craze, since the coconut has been exploding on the scene with coconut water brands and more. It’s everywhere! So let’s take a closer look at this fascinating phenomenon called the coconut. Even though the word nut is in coconut, it’s not a nut—or wholly even a fruit. It’s technically called a drupe; it’s a fruit with an outer husk or skin, a usually succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell usually enclosing a single seed.
While coconuts may fit neatly under the drupe umbrella, not all coconuts are created equally. While it’s true that coconuts are superfoods packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, there’s a difference, for instance, between young coconuts versus mature coconuts as well as coconut water versus coconut milk. For example, young coconuts have more water and soft, gel-like coconut meat, while mature coconuts have less water and firmer coconut meat.
While both young and mature coconuts are good for you, the mature coconut may have a slightly higher healthy fatty acid content, while young coconut may have a bit of an advantage water-wise. Here’s why: young coconut water is high in B vitamins, minerals (especially calcium, magnesium and potassium), contains the highest form of electrolytes in nature, and is completely sterile and so close to the structure of human blood that it can even be transfused directly!
Speaking of coconut water, let’s just clarify that coconut water is the liquid inside the coconut. Coconut milk, however, is made from the expressed juice of grated mature coconut meat and water. Going a step further…coconut cream is made in a similar way as coconut milk, but contains a higher ratio of coconut to water, thereby making it thicker. You can even buy or make coconut kefir—providing probiotics and enzymes—from coconut water or coconut milk.
Let’s not forget about coconut oil—known as the world’s healthiest oil—from the coconut meat that contains ultra-healthy medium chain fatty acids like lauric acid, myristic acid, caprylic acid, palmitic acid and more. Don’t use just any coconut oil, either, because coconut oils on the market vary dramatically quality-wise. Low-quality coconut oils are processed by chemical extraction, using solvents, or are hydrogenated, bleached and deodorized. A high-quality extra virgin organic coconut oil derived from fresh coconuts with no GMO ingredients, bleaching, deodorizing, refining or hydrogenation is what you want to look for and use.
Two other popular drupe derivatives are raw coconut cream and raw coconut kefir. Raw coconut cream is created by pressing or “juicing” the meat of the mature coconut. This creates a food loaded with medium-chain fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the body—providing a yummy source of quick energy, while not raising your cholesterol levels or adding pounds to your frame. An added bonus is that raw coconut cream has the consistency of cream cheese and has a smooth texture—making it an ideal healthy snack or ingredient in a raw dessert or smoothie. What’s more is raw coconut cream is perfect for those on a raw, vegan diet.
Raw coconut kefir is made from raw coconut water that is naturally fermented with probiotics, but it’s dairy-free, suitable for vegans, and packed with enzymes. Raw coconut kefir also promotes a healthy intestinal environment supporting your body’s immune and digestive systems, while aiding in detoxification. Likewise, raw coconut kefir supports proper hydration since it is a highly organized, ionized water source containing essential elements that promote the proper function of all the body’s organs and systems.
With such great taste and a variety of health benefits, it’s no wonder there’s a cultural coconut craze. So, if you’re going cuckoo for coconuts, now you have the scoop on this amazing drupe!