The coconut is definitely all the rage at the moment, from coconut water and milk, to coconut oil, flour and sugar! And this week, you’ll find a lovely bunch of coconuts (diddle-lee-dee) in your boxes! They are all the way from Mozambique, from Inhambane, where they are grown and harvested by local communities. We had great fun finding out a little more about the coconut, and its many different forms, here’s what we learnt!
Meet the coconut palm. Coconut palms grow best in warm, humid areas, and need lots of direct sun. They also thrive in sandy soil and are highly tolerant of salinity, making the beach the perfect spot! What a life, if only we could all be a coconut! Coconuts grow all year round, and each coconut takes a whole year to reach maturity. The coconut is thought to have got its name from European travellers who saw the 3 eyes on the coconut, and called it coco, which means laughing or spooky face. The ‘nut’ was added later, but the coconut is not actually a nut, but rather a stonefruit.
Coconut products are all over the shelves these days, so we asked Paediatric Dietitian, Lindsay Archibald-Durham for a little more nutritional info on these products:
- Coconut flesh is low in carbs, high in fibre and high in fat. A 2-by-2-inch piece of raw fresh coconut flesh contains only about 7 grams of carbohydrate (less than a third of what you’d get from a medium apple) and is jammed with 4 grams of fibre! On the flip side, coconut flesh is the nutritional opposite of what you’d expect from a fruit: what it lacks in carbohydrates, it makes up for in fat with 15 grams of fat per 2-inch chunk of coconut. Coconut oil is made from the flesh of the coconut, and was once a heart-health “don’t” thanks to its high saturated-fat content, but it’s definitely making a comeback.
- Coconut water, that delicious stuff that you can drink straight from the fruit with a straw, is said to be a great “natural” sports drink that’s great for hydration during light workouts as it provides fluid as well as essential electrolytes such as potassium lost during perspiration. Coconut milk on the other hand is made from a brew of coconut flesh and water. It is rich and thick and more like cream than milk and contains 48 grams of fat (of which most is saturated) per cup.
- Coconut flour is actually a by-product of the coconut milk making process, and is a healthy way to add decadent coconut flavour to baked goods. It’s naturally gluten free, and is high in fibre: it packs a whopping 5 grams of fibre per 2 tablespoons (with only 2 grams of total and saturated fat). It’s also known to lower the glycaemic index (a measure of the rate that a food increases blood sugar).
But our favourite thing of all, was that we learnt about two new creatures, who have a strong relationship with the coconut:
- The Coconut Crab is the world’s largest arthropod – the group that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans, that live on land. They live on small islands, and got their name from eating, you guessed it, coconuts! Although they eat a varied diet of fruit and other creatures, their pincers are strong enough to break open coconuts – no small feat!
- In Thailand, some coconuts are harvested by monkeys, pig-tailed macaques to be specific. These monkeys have been raised and trained to pick coconuts for over 400 years, a tradition that persists today.
We love finding out more about all the delicious fruits and veggies that go into your boxes each week, and we hope you do too! It’s an important part of knowing where our food comes from, and we learn new and wonderful things each day, that make us appreciate the produce and the farmers even more!
This blog post was written in partnership with Paediatric Dietitian, Lindsay Archibald-Durham.