The whole thing
Coconut oil is an extraction of coconut flesh just as olive oil is an extraction of whole olives. Coconut butter is freshly made from whole coconut flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I love and regularly use coconut oil. It’s a healthy and wholesome food worth adding to your diet if you’re not already using it and keeping in your diet if you’ve already discovered it. But this is different.
How does it taste?
Coconut butter has a slightly sweet taste and goes well with almost any kind of fruit. Some people use it in fruit smoothies, homemade energy bars, as a sauce, in salad dressings, or as an ingredient in fruit sorbets and homemade icing or frosting. So far, I’ve only used it over fruit or baked sweet potatoes and I absolutely love it. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what your missing!
Coconut butter is similar to almond, cashew or peanut butter in consistency and calorie density. It’s made from blended, raw, coconut flesh. Look for it in natural foods stores and online. I've used both Artisana and Wilderness Family Naturals brands.
Note: When you open a new jar of coconut butter, you can transfer the contents to a bowl to make it easier to stir, then return the mixture to the jar and store at room temperature (it will turn very hard if refrigerated). If you find it too difficult to stir, pour the coconut butter into the top of a double boiler and heat over a medium-low boil and whisk until smooth.A 2 tablespoon-size serving of Artisana raw coconut butter contains the following:
- 186 calories
- 18 grams fat (0 trans fat)
- 10 milligrams sodium
- 7 grams carbohydrate
- 5 grams fiber
- 1.9 grams sugar (naturally occurring)
- 2 grams protein
Fat serves many important functions in your body. Fats carry flavor. They improve absorption of many vitamins and antioxidants. Fats provide structure to cell membranes. (You want these membranes made from stable fats. Coconut oil contains more stable fatty acids than vegetable and seed oils.) When included in meals and snacks, fat can help stabilize your energy and blood sugar level. Fats increase the feeling of satiety (satisfaction) and act as a hunger suppressant, allowing you to go longer between meals. The right fats can also boost your immunity. Fats provide a concentrated source of energy that can help reduce the volume of food we need to eat, particularly important if you are tall, lanky, or muscular (and have a fast metabolism), you are physically active, you have a busy schedule, or want to eat less frequently throughout the day.
I thought coconut was unhealthy?
Maybe you’ve heard that coconut is harmful to your health and that it will cause elevated cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, and heart disease because it is largely composed of saturated fat. If so, you’ve been force-fed false information.
The big fat lie
Coconut fat has been blacklisted by many doctors, dieticians, and health organizations; however, unrefined, natural coconut products do not raise cholesterol levels nor do they promote atherosclerosis or heart disease unless they’re hydrogenated.
“People in traditional cultures who liberally use naturally saturated vegetable fats such as coconut and palm oil, don’t have the health problems we Americans suffer from. Studies of primitive Polynesians have absolved coconut oil as a cause of heart disease. The Tokelauans obtain about 57 percent of their daily calories from fat, most of it from coconut. They average130 grams of saturated fat and only 6 grams of unsaturated fat per day. And yet the Tokelauans and other Polynesians who consume coconut are practically immune to heart disease.
“Heart disease is rampant among Americans. Yet, in baffling defiance of common sense, conventional nutritionists have blamed coconut and palm oils as well as butter and egg yolks. Yet coconut and palm oils make up an insignificant portion of the typical American diet, and whole egg and butter consumption has plummeted since 1910. Most Americans are getting the bulk of their fat calories from refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils made from corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, and other oils––not from coconut or palm oil.”
For full references and to read more on this subject, refer to The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook
So how did coconut get a bad rap?
The deceitful propaganda campaign against coconut oil and other naturally saturated fats, such as palm oil and butter, was initiated by manufacturers of hydrogenated oil products, such as vegetable shortening and margarine. They set out to discredit harmless natural saturated fats, so they could increase sales of processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils, shortening, and margarine.
Source: Mary Enig, Ph.D. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding The Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol. Silver Springs: Bethesda Press, 2000: 178-179.)
The tropical oil scare was a scam
“Dr. C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general of the United States, called the tropical oil scare ‘foolishness.’ and added commercial interests either trying to divert blame to others or ignorantly following the saturated fat hysteria were 'terrorizing the public about nothing.’ ”
Dr. Mary Enig PhD, a well known lipid scientist, has studied and written extensively on the unique properties of coconut oil. She explains how coconut fat differs from other fats and oils. First, 65 percent of coconut fat consists of short- and medium-chain saturated fats (caprylic, capric, and lauric acids), which are easily assimilated, rapidly converted to energy in the liver, and can increase metabolic rate. Second, 40 percent of coconut fat is lauric acid, a fat that has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral actions that naturally occur in human mothers’ milk and is included in infant formulas.
Excerpt from The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes and Sauces by Rachel Albert-Matesz.
So go ahead, enjoy it
Coconut’s a great food and there are so many great ways to use it. For more great recipes for using coconut products, pick up copies of my two cookbooks, The Garden of Eating and The Ice Dream Cookbook.
Do you have a favorite way to use coconut butter?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!