Coconuts. Health food ‘pop star’ of the century. From slathering it on to our skin and hair to frying our eggs and making Thai curries, it seems everyone has gone nuts for coconuts. Well, here are 2 reasons why you might want to rethink your love for them.
OK, perhaps that statement is a bit misleading. After all, coconuts in their wholesome form are super! They’re high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body. It's what makes them great for high energy. MCTs are particularly beneficial in that they don’t require bile acids for digestion; they’re directly shunted to the liver via the portal vein ready to supercharge our bodies.
But here’s why you want to make sure you’re eating the wholesome coconut and not its processed alternatives.
Canned coconut milks and creams are likely contaminated with Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a manmade chemical that is lined in some canned foods. The research is conflicting in terms of its harmful effects. But there is sufficient evidence to show that it is linked to neurobehavioural problems in infants (high levels were found in their mothers too. FYI the same goes for canned baby formulas).
2) Guar gum
Coconut and blueberry chia pudding. Photograph by Brenda Godinez.
Canned coconut yogurts, milks and creams contain guar gum, a sugar extracted from beans. There’s no research suggesting it is harmful per se, but it can wreak havoc with your gut if you suffer with digestive problems. Also, coconuts are considered a high FODMAP food, which you want to scale back on if you have IBS, IBD and fructose malabsorption.
Truthfully, it’s simple. Eat coconuts in their wholesome form and don’t over do it.
Kay Ali, Co founder of You Need A Nutritional Therapist.
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References available upon request.
Header image by Brooke Lark.