Got Coconut?

With references found in ancient Hindu scriptures, coconut is one of the oldest food plants. In the tropics, it has long been a dietary staple. Lately, coconut has become tremendously popular and trendy among health fanatics. Not surprisingly, many celebrities including Madonna champion the sweet white flesh. If Ms. Kabbalah is big on coconut, you know it must be healthy.

The brown, hairy coconut is actually the seed of the coconut palm tree fruit. The oil is high in saturated fat, making it extremely stable (resistant to rancidity) and ideal for light frying. Although mostly saturated (solid) fat, about half of it consists of medium chain fatty acids, which are rapidly burned by the body for energy. Research has not linked coconut oil consumption to heart disease. Instead, it actually appears to have a salutary effect by boosting beneficial HDL cholesterol and lowering certain risk factors. In moderately overweight individuals, coconut oil has been shown to promote thermogenesis (heat production) and calorie expenditure. Coconut oil also contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

Coconut water, which is extracted from fruit too young to have formed milk, has no fat and less sugar than most juices. It’s an excellent rehydrater, and contains more electrolytes than Gatorade. Barflies like it because it’s reputed to be a great hangover remedy.

Drummers who play hard and sweat a lot must be sure to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. The rule is to drink up to 12 ounces of a sports drink (or coconut water) 15 minutes before exercising (or drumming) and 4—8 ounces every 10 to 15 minutes.

Another of the fruit’s byproduct is coconut sugar, a terrific alternative to cane sugar. Produced from the juice of the flower blossoms, it has a nutritional profile far richer than other sweeteners. Coconut sugar has a glycemic index value of 35 compared to 55 for honey and 68 for cane sugar, which means it is less apt to adversely spike the blood sugar level. After all, the last thing you want halfway through a set is to sugar-crash