Coconut is a health-promoting superstar. Yes, coconut contains a high quota of plant-based fats, but they are high-efficiency saturated fats, made up chiefly of medium-chain triglycerides that break down easily and convert to energy so they’re not stored as fat. These healthy fats boost the function of the endocrine system, particularly that of the thyroid to rev up metabolism. These healthy fats enhance the secretion of insulin to regulate blood sugar, too, reducing stress on the pancreas, liver, kidneys, gall bladder, and adrenals.
Coconut is also a detox diva, facilitating the absorption of alkaline buffer minerals like calcium and magnesium; and is an immune-boosting bandit. Chock-full of lauric, caprylic, capric, stearic, and myristic acids, coconut helps combat viruses, bacteria, yeast, and fungi.
Dubbed as "nature's Gatorade", fresh, raw, unpasteurized coconut water is a natural isotonic energy drink, loaded with enzymes and hydrating potassium electrolytes that boost the cleansing functions of the liver, thyroid, kidneys, and gall bladder. Low in calories and carbs, it’s almost completely fat-free, too. The water from young Thai coconuts is my pick. As the coconut matures, the sugar content increases and the ascorbic acid content decreases.
The healthiest and most economical way to get coconut meat and water is by cracking open Young Thai coconuts, often sold as "drinking coconuts" at grocery stores, Asian supermarkets, and health food stores.
I buy a case of coconuts in bulk, enlist friends, and open a dozen or more coconuts in batches. (The easiest way to open a coconut is with the Coco Jack tool.) I use the water as a hydrating beverage, or for use in smoothies, tonics, and desserts. The meat makes a great base for desserts, or use it to make homemade coconut yogurt or cultured coconut pudding. Raw water and meat only keeps in the fridge for 3 days, before it starts to ferment.
I freeze remaining water and meat for later use. When freezing the water, leave about 1 inch (2.5cm) at the top of the container to allow for expansion. To freeze the meat, cut off any bits of husk, and then freeze in sealed containers or freezer bags. The water and meat will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.
Buy organic coconuts whenever possible. Many conventional coconuts are dipped in toxic preservatives to prevent mold, and are then bleached before wrapping, both of which contaminate the water.
When purchasing commercially packed coconut water, look for organic, raw, and unpasteurized brands without additives or preservatives. Harmless Harvest coconut water is widely sold in the United States. It's the best commercial option currently available, but it has been high-pressure pasteurized (HPP). Long-life shelf-stable coconut water packed in cartons and bottles is basically sugar water devoid of any nutrients. You can find frozen raw coconut meat from Earth Coco in the freezer section of health food stores and some mainstream grocery stores.
Canned coconut milk is rich, creamy, and delicious, and is a fabulous convenience product for making soups, stews, curries, and desserts. But, most canned coconut milk contains stabilizers and thickeners. Native Forest makes a great full-fat product, but it does contain guar gum. Golden Star makes a fabulous conventional coconut milk made with just coconut and water.
But, for drinking, for use in raw recipes, and to gain full advantage of all of the health properties of raw coconut, making your own coconut milk is the way to go.
You can make raw coconut milk by blending coconut meat and coconut water. Adjust the amount of water to achieve your preferred consistency. For a thick milk similar to canned coconut milk, chill the milk in the fridge to thicken.
The milk will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days.