Coconut butter: A Complete Superfood


Coconut butter: A Complete SuperfoodCoconut butter is a spread made from the meat of the coconut much in the same way peanuts are used to make peanut butter. Just like peanut butter, it can be enjoyed with your favorite fruit, combined into smoothies, blended into coffee, or devoured by the spoonful straight from the jar.

Coconut butter is often referred to as a superfood for some of its amazing health benefits. But what really makes coconut butter so sought after is the flavor. Organic coconuts, have a great natural sweetness that makes eating coconut butters feel like eating dessert. With a tiny amount of organic honey or organic maple sugar/syrup in each jar to enhance this natural sweetness, so you can enjoy the amazing health benefits of coconut, without the guilt. Things like nuts, organic cacao powder, and other healthy ingredients are also added to create the amazing flavors.

While the concept for coconut butter is the same as peanut butter, there are some noticeable differences between them. Coconut butter is not quite as creamy as peanut butter and the texture will vary from jar to jar based on temperature. If you have ever used coconut oil, then you know that the oil will be liquid above room temperature and solid below room temperature. Since Coconut Butter does contain coconut oil, it is recommend microwaving it for around 30 seconds, if you prefer a creamier texture. Also, to maintain the consistency of the texture, jars should be stored at room temperature and should not be refrigerated.

Coconut butter is not same as coconut oil. Coconut oil is used more for cooking as a substitute for olive oil, butter, or other cooking oils. Coconut butter is more of a condiment, spread, or baking ingredient that is used in place of almond butter or peanut butter.
 

Coconut oil is currently a very popular oil for cooking and arguably the go-to fat source for Paleo diet devotees. Coconut oil spinoffs have also gained popularity, with the most prominent being coconut butter. However, there are some differences, both nutritionally and culinary, between the butter and oil versions that you should know before digging in.

Coconut oil is pure fat. And despite the name, it will usually be solid and opaque–not liquid—in your cupboard. This is because it’s made up of more than 90 percent saturated fats, which solidify at room temperature. It’s also different than other oils in that less than 60 percent of the fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), compared to longer-chain fatty acids in olive oil or fish oil. MCTs are unique, as they are passively absorbed in your digestive tract (unlike other fats which requires special transport/absorption) and thus are readily used as energy. These saturated fats have fascinated nutritional scientists for years, but their best application in a diet has yet to be fleshed out.

Coconut butter, on the other hand, contains similar nutritional characteristics, but since it is comprised of pureed, raw coconut meat—not only the oil—it is not made exclusively of fat. One tablespoon of coconut butter provides 2 grams of fiber as well as small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron. You may be familiar with Coconut Manna, which is essentially the branded version of coconut butter.

Just as we wouldn’t use peanut butter and peanut oil the same way in cooking, we wouldn’t use coconut butter and coconut oil interchangeably. Coconut oil is perfect for using in sautés and stir-fries, since its high saturated fat content makes it suitable for high temperatures. In contrast, coconut butter is thicker in texture, so real coconut lovers may use as a spread just as you would with regular butter. Some of my clients also love using coconut butter in smoothies or as a topping for berries (like you would use yogurt, just in much smaller quantities).

Both coconut oil and butter seem to have health halos hovering over them, so many people view their fat profile as a magical, metabolism-boosting health elixir. I warn clients against looking at any food in this light, as it leads overconsumption and disappointment. While both contain unique and potentially healthful nutritional profiles, they are still calorie-dense—packing 130 calories per tablespoon of oil and 100 calories per tablespoon of butter. So don’t think of either as a free food you can use in your meals with reckless abandon.

We call this delicious puréed coconut butter "coconut manna" because if ever there was a food from heaven, this is it. An incredibly tasty, whole superfood made of pure, dried coconut flesh; you can enjoy it straight from the jar, or warm it up to spread the goodness! This tropical melt-in-your-mouth treat contains fiber, protein and nourishing fats.

 

Coconut butter: A Complete SuperfoodAn ideal "everything" spread that can replace cream, cream cheese and butter, you can also use it in smoothies, sauces, dressings, desserts and baked goods.

Once a central part of the traditional Pacific Islander diet, luscious coconut is fast becoming a staple in modern healthy diets as well. Coconut contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid also found in human breast milk. Lauric acid makes up about 50% of coconut oil. Coconut products generally come from Southeast Asia, where the coconut oil is processed immediately upon harvesting. The creamy, white meat of the coconut is scooped out of the shell by hand. What you get is simply the creamy, fresh flavor of pure coconut.

Coconut oil is extremely versatile and can be used in place of both butter and other vegetable oils. A solid at cooler temperatures, it becomes liquid when warmed. It takes heat well and can be used for baking, sautéing, stir-frying or anywhere else you would use vegetable oil, shortening or butter.

Coconut Butter Health Benefits
  • It’s rich in lauric acid, which boosts immunity and destroys harmful bacteria, viruses, and funguses.

  • It actually boosts your metabolism, which aids in weight loss and increases energy levels.

  • It’s packed with healthy fats, so you feel full longer.

  • It’s full of essential amino acids, calcium, and magnesium.

  • Basically, coconut butter is just plain awesome.

Ideas to Use coconut butter

Wondering how to actually use coconut butter? Here are a bunch of delicious ideas for you:

  1. Spoon coconut butter straight from the jar and eat it. Yes, it’s that good.

  2. Melt it and pour it over a sweet potato or winter squash. Trust me on this one.

  3. Use it in a curry dish or stir fry for an extra amazing flavor.

  4. Add it to a smoothie like this piña colada one. This is one of my absolute favorite uses for coconut butter.

  5. Spread it over toast in place of real butter and add add some almond butter for a satisfying snack.

  6. Drizzle it melted over berries in a bowl for an amazing dessert.

  7. Toss it with some shrimp or chicken and add some hot sauce (I haven’t tried this because I’m a vegetarian, but I’ve heard it’s pretty mouthwatering).

  8. Add a spoonful to some cacao nibs for an antioxidant-bursting treat.

  9. Use it in place of dairy butter in baking for a healthier fat (this tends to make baked goods a little dryer, so you’ll need to add a little more of a moist ingredient such as fruit puree or oil).

Interesting facts about coconut butter

Coconut butter: A Complete SuperfoodCoconut oil (same thing: when it is in solid form, is referred as butter; when it is melted, it’s known as oil) is among the most stable of all oils. It is slow to oxidize and therefore it does not quickly become rancid. Due to its high content in saturated fats, it can last up to two years.

It helps to protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. In fact, some researchers would argue that it could be classed as an antioxidant.

In India and Sri Lanka, coconut butter is widely used for styling hair and cooling the head. People bathe in warm water after applying coconut oil all over the body and leaving it as is for an hour to keep body, skin and hair healthy.

It works wonders as a skin moisturiser. It penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin to strengthen the underlying tissues and helps to keep connective tissues strong and supple. In other words, it helps to improve skin elasticity and softness.

On tropical island countries, such as the Philippines and Fiji, coconut oil is the primary cooking oil. It is actually the best oil to use if you need to fry anything, since it smokes at a higher point than any other oil.

It contains “good” fat (50% lauric acid). Coconut butter is made up mostly of medium chain fatty acids, which the body metabolizes efficiently and converts into energy, rather than storing as fat.

One of the best benefits of coconut oil lies in its ability to help stimulate the body’s metabolism and to lose weight naturally. Back in the 1940s, farmers found out about this effect by accident when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock. It didn't work! Instead, it made their cows lean and more active.

Some athletes consume coconut butter for its nutritional benefits. For example, it was included in the diet of the England rugby team in 2007, who were an average of 2kg of muscle heavier than the 2003 team. According to the team’s nutritionist Matt Lovell, cold-pressed helps to raise the metabolic rate and therefore help the body to burn fat more effectively. "It is the most misunderstood of all fats," he says. "It is what we call a 'functional food' because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional or calorie content."

 

Dated 10 December 2014

 

 

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