Many nutritional minds believe coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. That being said, it is not the only coconut-derived food you should know about. Every part of the coconut can be used during the making of coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, and coconut butter. Coconut butter, in particular, is very similar and yet different to coconut oil.
Like coconut oil, coconut butter comes from coconut meat (Cocos nucifera). You might say that coconut butter is the peanut butter of the tropics. Basically, coconut butter is ground-up coconut meat with the consistency of nut butter, but it is usually a little flakier than it is oily.
For some time, coconut has been hyped as a prominent superfood with many health benefits, including boosting immunity and aiding in weight loss. Coconut butter possesses many of these same benefits. The following article will explore the unique butter, its health benefits, and how to make and use this unique version of coconut.
Coconut Butter Nutrition
What should you know about coconut butter nutrition? It contains 18 grams of fat, including 80% of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat, in just two tablespoons. It is also a source of carbs, protein, and fiber. From a micronutrient perspective, coconut butter also contains some iron, calcium, and vitamin C.
The following is a comprehensive nutrition chart with information for two tablespoons of coconut butter, or 33 grams of this food.
* Source: SELF Nutrition Data
Coconut Butter vs. Coconut Oil
Although similar in a lot of ways, coconut oil and coconut butter have their differences. For starters, the biggest difference is that coconut oil is 100% full-fat oil with medium-chain fatty acid. On the other hand, coconut butter is about 60% oil, and although it contains medium-chain fatty acids, it also has lots of fiber and other important nutrients.
Coconut oil will become clear when melted; but the butter will maintain its white color. The oil is also suitable for high cooking temperature, whereas coconut butter burns easily and can only be melted at low temperatures. Both coconut oil and coconut butter are available in organic and virgin oil forms, and should be stored at room temperature.
Health Benefits of Coconut Butter
What are the health benefits of coconut butter? Similar to coconut oil, coconut butter is a nutritional powerhouse that could potentially reduce the risk of disease. Research shows that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut butter may treat and prevent diseases, such as gallbladder disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even cancer. This is because medium-chain fatty acids are easier to digest than long-chain fatty acids, and they help decrease inflammation while offering greater overall support for the body.
The high fiber in coconut butter also helps lower cholesterol and offers frequent bowel movements. The iron in the butter is also crucial for the development of healthy red blood cells. Iron is essential for the body to get enough oxygen, and it affects hair, skin, nails, and brain function. The following are five other key coconut butter benefits.
1. Promotes Weight Loss
The medium-chain fatty acids or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut butter will get burned for energy rather than being stored as fat. Studies have shown that consumption of one to two tablespoons of MCTs daily will increase fat burning by about 120 calories daily. Coconut butter can therefore help you maintain a boosted metabolism for up to a 24-hour timeframe. The fat will also help you feel full for a longer period, while also slowing down digestion. The fat in the butter could also prevent blood sugar spikes, which protects you against insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
2. Benefits Hair
Like coconut oil, coconut butter offers many hair benefits, including preventing dandruff and promoting hair growth. Since the butter is easily absorbed by the hair and skin, it may lower the negative effects of free radical damage while enhancing hair growth. How do you use it for hair? Simply combine it with essential oils like rosemary, and massage it into your hair. You will then leave it on for 20 minutes, before showering like normal.
3. Antiviral and Antifungal Properties
Coconut butter also has beneficial antiviral and antifungal characteristics. The lauric acid in coconut butter in particular, is often used to treat viral infections, and may be especially effective against the common cold, the flu, genital herpes, genital warts, and cold sores. It may also help treat yeast infections and candida, gonorrhea, bronchitis, ringworm, and chlamydia.
4. Boosts Immunity
The lauric acid in coconut butter has been found to have strong immune-boosting ability. When lauric acid gets converted into the bioactive molecule known as monolaurin, it can effectively kill disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Coconut is the second best source of monolaurin behind breast milk.
5. Boosts Athletic Performance
As noted above, coconut butter is a source of MCTs, which are rapidly absorbed in the body as a fat-burning energy source rather than being stored. For this reason, the butter may also provide a boost in athletic performance. The muscles can immediately use the fuel source provided by MCTs, which is a reason why MCT-based foods are popular with the athletes and Paleo and ketogenic diet followers.
How to Buy, Make, and Use Coconut Butter
You can find coconut butter at most natural health stores. It should be stored at room temperature, and may also develop a layer of oil at the top as natural nut butter often does. Therefore, it is best to stir the coconut butter before using it.
However, you can save a lot of money by making the butter rather than buying it. You will need to use either flakes or shredded unsweetened, dried coconut. The flakes will often become a smoother butter than shredded coconut.
For the butter, place about four cups of coconut into a high-speed blender or food processor. You will process for about 10 to 15 minutes, or less, when using a blender, or about 15 to 20 minutes if using a food processor. You will want to stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides and push the coconut into the mixture.
While making the coconut butter, it will first have a finely shredded texture, before becoming a thick and smooth liquid. The final product will seem runny, but it tastes similar to thick and sticky nut butter. You can keep your butter in an airtight container at room temperature in a cupboard or kitchen cabinet for a minimum of one month. Room temperature will create solid and spreadable coconut butter.
Your new treat can be eaten straight out of the jar, added to curry dishes, soups, stir fries, toast, or melted over berries. You can also toss it with chicken or shrimp, or use it to replace dairy butter for baked goods.
Coconut Butter Recipes
The following are a couple of coconut butter recipes to help you get full enjoyment of this unique spreadable butter.
1. Acorn Squash with Coconut Butter and Cinnamon
- 1 acorn squash
- 1/4 tbsp. of coconut butter
- A few pinches of cinnamon
- A pinch of coarse sea salt
- 2 tbsp. of currants
- 2 tbsp. of sliced almonds
- Slice the squash down the middle lengthwise and place it face down in an oven-safe baking dish. Bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, or until it is fork tender and the edges have begun to brown.
- When the squash has fully cooked, remove it from the oven. While still warm, fill the center with coconut butter and add cinnamon and sea salt. Top with a variety of other ingredients like almonds or currants. Serve warm.
2. Carrot Gingerbread Muffins
- 6 organic eggs
- 1/2 cup of organic butter or coconut oil
- 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp. of coarse sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
- 1 tsp. of cinnamon
- 1 tsp. of ginger
- 1/2 tsp. of ground cloves
- 3 cups of shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup of raisins
For the frosting:
- 1/4 cup of coconut butter
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp. of freshly grated ginger
- 1 tbsp. of orange zest
- 1 tbsp. of shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp. of pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Whisk the eggs, coconut oil or butter, molasses, pure vanilla extract, and maple syrup together in a large mixing bowl. Sift the coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, ginger, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Add the carrots and raisins, and combine together.
- In a muffin tin, scoop a quarter cup of the batter into each muffin container with natural parchment muffin papers, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Combine all frosting ingredients until smooth.
- Allow the muffins to cool before adding the frosting.
3. Orange Cream and Mint Cups
For the base:
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil
- 1/2 cup of coconut butter
For the orange cream:
- 1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
- Zest from 1 orange
- 2 tsp. of pure maple syrup
For the mint:
- 2 tsp. of mint extract oil
- 2 tsp. of pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp. of fresh mint, chopped
- Combine the base, orange cream, and mint ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
- Place parchment paper liners in a 24-mini-muffin pan, and spoon in the mixture evenly into each mini container.
- Place the pan into the freezer to set, and serve cold.
Coconut Butter Precautions
Although some people may not have heard of coconut butter, it has many similar benefits as coconut oil such as promoting weight loss, preventing viruses, boosting immunity and athletic performance, and improving the health of hair. But while coconut butter is a healthy fat, it is still a fat that should be consumed in moderation. Keep in mind that although the lauric acid in coconut butter is safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women in normal amounts, larger amounts should be avoided. As a result, it is best to consult with your health care provider before using coconut butter if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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