When my mom was little she lived with her parents and three older sisters in a modest midwestern house.  One summer day a truck transporting jelly beans hit a bad pothole right in front of the family house, dumping a few cases of pineapple and coconut flavored jelly beans.  Well, times being what they were, those jelly beans were picked up out of the road, brought into the house and put to good use – namely, the girls were given jelly beans every time they wanted a snack, every single day until they were gone.  (I admit I haven’t fact-checked this story, but it’s how I remember my mom telling it.  We’ll call it artistic license and I’m sure she or my aunts will post corrections.  How’s that for jack-journalism?)  Due to this traumatic jelly bean experience, my mother has never purposely ingested coconut or pineapple since then.  And what a shame!  Because these foods are nutritional superheroes, and my mom and I agree on a lot of things but when it comes to these tropical treats, we are on opposite sides of the ring.

Warning:  I’m about to get real geeky on y’all.

I love pineapple, although I choose to eat it infrequently due to its high sugar content.  It is one of the sweetest foods out there, especially when canned or when dried.  (But holy moly, dried pineapple rings are de.li.cious.)

Yeah, it’s tasty, but pineapple is also high in important nutrients like manganese and Vitamin C, and it has very high levels of Bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory and great digestive enzyme that helps break down your food.  It’s best eaten in between meals, or 15-30 minutes before a meal.  Who knew such sweetness could kick butt in your gut!

All right, enough of that…now let’s talk about my single favorite food on the planet.  I eat some form of it every single day and absolutely love it.  I went nuts for the stuff even as a kid – coconut cream pie, hel-LO.  Probably just to spite my mother and make her roll her eyes at me.  (Sorry, Mom!)

Coconut is the world’s perfect food, if you ask me.  Coconut milk in my coffee – every single day.  Coconut water when my electrolytes are depleted.  Shredded coconut as breading, or sweet topping.  Coconut oil to fry my eggs, or mixed in with almond butter on my apple slices, or rubbed on my skin after a shower, or used as a replacement for butter or vegetable oil in any baking recipe I make.  Coconut flour.  Coconut vinegar.  Coconut cream.  And don’t even get me started on the new commercial coconut milk ice creams!  My current favorite is Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss: Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge (tastes like Nutella) or Cherry Amaretto (tastes like heaven).

As you can see, I use a lot of the stuff.  And to be really clear, I’ll just lay it out: I buy coconut oil by the gallon, and just ordered two gallons on a 2-for-1 sale!  One tub always lives right next to my stove with a spoon in it because Eric and I use it pretty much anytime we cook anything.  Um…TMI?

But truthfully, it’s not just about the fact that it’s freakin’ delectable…coconut is also a very healthy food.  Actually, a really, super amazingly healthy food.  Here are three big reasons why:

  1. It’s antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitical, and antifungal – so it helps keep your body strong against all those wee bugs and germs out there – without having to use that antibacterial soap and gel and crap.
  2. Coconut has gotten a bad rap over the years for being full of saturated fats and therefore bad for you – a “heart-attack” food.  I’m here to tell you that it’s a sham.  Coconut is indeed full of saturated fats – which are very good for you, even vital to your good health.  Saturated fats actually are vital to brain and other organ functions, and help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A & D and K.  Fat-soluble – get what that means?  A water-soluble vitamin dissolves (so it can be absorbed by the body) when it is combined with water.  A fat-soluble vitamin must be combined with fat in order to dissolve and be absorbed by the body.  Remember this; it’s important.  Nonfat milk fortified with Vitamins A & D is basically useless to your body.  Drink full-fat milk – or coconut milk instead!  Okay okay, moving on.
  3. The stuff actually stimulates your metabolism and promotes weight loss.  What the what??  How can a food that’s mostly fat keep you from getting fat?  Well, for one thing, saturated fat is highly satiating – it’ll help you feel full and keep that feeling for hours after eating.  After a good morning with coconut milk in my coffee and coconut oil in my eggs, this former hysterical hypoglycemic (that’s me) can often easily forget to eat lunch.  Plus, coconut’s fat is predominantly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s), which don’t get stored in the fat cells but remain available to be used as energy until it is all gone.  Let me say that again: the fat you’re eating in coconut will be super tasty going down, and will help you feel full for a much longer time, and all of the fat will get burned up eventually – it won’t take up residence on your lovehandles.  In fact. if you’re feeling tired, eat a tablespoon or two of coconut oil and feel yourself get revved with energy.  MCT’s are also incredibly good for your heart.

There are many, many other health benefits to eating coconut, and the best website I’ve found is the Coconut Research Center.  Yes, there really is such a thing.  Worth checking out.  In the meantime, get yourself some coconut and give it a try.  Make some curry, or a coconut milk smoothie.  Fry your eggs in some coconut oil.  Sprinkle some shredded coconut on your ice cream.  Read Eat Fat Lose Fat which has great information and lots of fantastic recipes.  I dare you to become a coconut junkie like me!

P.S. The best coconut milk I have ever had, I found right here in Germany.  Go figure.  Nom nom nom…