Nuts over Coconuts
We live in a time where everyone on the internet is expressing their opinions about nutrition, food science, and diets.
I have no intentions of getting into a no-win battle with the food crazies who believe they are out to save the world because their way is the only way.
Today I’m going to bring to you a perspective of wholesome nourishing traditions from cultures all over the world based on my education and travel experience.
I have read a lot of material and seen first-hand the nourishing benefits of consuming high quantities of coconut.
You see, much of the material being written is missing the big picture. That’s because more than 90% of the articles and studies only discuss the benefits of isolated portions of the coconut (coconut water and coconut oil) and not, the nourishing benefits of the coconut as a whole. Can you say reductionist?
Many of the arguments against those articles and studies make very valid points. Is using a large amount of coconut oil or water a good idea?
In my opinion, the answer is:
No. But there is a reason why.
Traditionally, the idea of using parts of the whole are at best done sparingly. You don’t need much to get the benefits and over-consuming them can cause a greater imbalance. I know what you are thinking, “But ZNF sells both coconut water and oil”. Yes, this is very true, but, our suggestion (much like tradition) is to use them in moderation. We also sell coconut milk powder and encourage people to use it as a daily staple because it is a wholesome and nourishing food. This is why the coconut milk powder is a part of our Total Nourishment Package.
When you use something that is considered an isolated portion of a food, you are not only getting a greater concentration of some of the nourishing benefits but you are also getting an incomplete and imbalanced food. Therefore, the over-consumption of fractionalized foods will at some point produce a limited return on the investment. Even worse, they have the potential of causing a greater imbalance. To be clear, when these items are used correctly (in moderate amounts), you will see a nourishing benefit.
Let’s push aside all those fractionalized and reductionist ideas and get to the heart of the matter which is using coconut as a wholesome nourishing food. What I am hoping you have already figured out, is that the people who argue for consuming large amounts of, for example, coconut oil, do so because it fits into their specific situation.
On the ketogenic diet? Yes, based on the principle of this specific way of eating using a concentrated form of fat is necessary. Or is it? I am going to let you in on a big secret, but only, if you promise to keep it as a secret. You know those medium chain triglycerides spoken so highly about from coconut oil lovers, or the high levels of magnesium and potassium talked about by the coconut water lovers? All of those wonderful components are gotten when you eat food and products prepared with the whole coconut (For example coconut milk). The best part, when eaten as the whole, these powerful components are found in perfect balance as nature intended.
Tradition and Research
The Veddas are the indigenous tribe of Sri lanka located in Asia. The majority of their dietary fats came from coconut and wild game. A study published in the medical journal of Tropical and Geographical Medicine examined 207 adults from the ages of 20-83.
The purpose of this study was to look at the effects that high levels of saturated fats from coconut and wild game had on this culture’s cardiovascular system. A detailed medical history was evaluated, including lifestyle habits such as their level of physical activity, diet and smoking. A physical exam and blood analysis were done with specific intentions of looking at cardiovascular markers. Finally, a history of any symptoms that may be related to cardiovascular health were also taken, and none of the participants reported any such symptoms.
Interestingly enough, while 39% of the men smoked and only 3.8% presented with elevated blood pressure levels, their overall markers were very impressive for blood cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL (the good cholesterol) 5.25 mmol/l (SD 0.45), 1.99 mmol/l (SD 0.92) and 1.2 mmol/l (SD 0.2), respectively. Because physical activity was high and there was no obesity within this population, it was concluded that all of the above were major factors in the rarity of coronary heart disease within this population. (1)
It should be noted all Sri Lanka tribal populations use coconut as a staple in there diet. It was estimated in 1978 that every man, woman, and child consumed the equivalent of 120 coconuts per year.
During that time only 1 out of every 100,000 deaths were caused by heart disease.
However between the years 1979 and 1991, the consumption of coconuts dropped dramatically and swapped out for soybean oil as a primary source of fats. This proved to be devastating to their culture as the death rate from heart attacks increased dramatically. The traditional countries where coconut is a primary source of fat had the lowest incidence of heart disease until recently.
While certain groups within the country of Sri Lanka still consume high amounts of coconut and the rate of heart disease is very low, the majority of the general population in the area, has replaced coconut with polyunsaturated oils.
Now, this area, like much of the world is dealing with a heart disease epidemic.
If you enjoy coconut, here are some suggested uses for three popular coconut-based foods:
Coconut Milk Powder
Use up to 7 tablespoons daily as a nourishing food. You may eat alone or add it to any of your favorite foods.
If you are going to use this item as a standalone product, use in moderation at 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon daily. To get the nourishing benefits, I suggest you cook or mix it with food. For this application, you can use 1 tablespoon per meal.
Coconut Water Powder
Used as a refreshing beverage based on directions given on label. If you are going to use more than one serving daily or in large quantities trying to re-establish proper hydration, it is suggested that you add a tiny pinch of sea salt to prevent throwing off your electrolyte balance.
1) Mendis S1. 1999. “Coronary heart disease and coronary risk profile in a primitive population”. Pubmed.gov Accessed 2/20/18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1750115
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher and an accomplished author. With a 16-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
ZNF Mind and Body Restorative Program (Instant Download)
If you are new to the world of herbal remedies, or want to sharpen your skills, Mike is the author of the ZNF Mind and Body Restorative Program. This 78-page, easy-to-read eBook is $9.99 (Immediate download). For more information visit the Z Natural Foods store, or click here to see a list of the important topics.
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