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paleo foods

Get Educated on Coconut Oil’s MCTs

what is coconut oil good for | is coconut a nut | what are MCTs

School’s out for summer (or so sang Alice Cooper circa 1972) but, as any good teacher will tell you, learning never stops. With the weather warming (except in the San Francisco Bay Area where fog season is just getting started), the time has come to explore the coconut. Namely: is coconut a nut? And, what is coconut oil good for?

Is Coconut a Nut?

In a word, no. Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). And, despite having “-nut” as its suffix, the coconut is not a nut but a stone fruit, related, stone fruit-wise, to coffee, dates, plums, apricots, and, surprisingly, pistachios and almonds.

What is Coconut Oil Good For?

Over the last five or so years, the packaged food industry has gone bananas for coconut. Its water is credited with heroic levels of hydration. Its flesh available fresh, dried, shredded, sweetened, floured, and powdered, and its sap turned into sugar to supply the no and low carb demands of the paleo crowd. As the demand for coconut soars, companies are searching for new positioning of the nutritional benefits of this tropical stone fruit. Many have seized on coconut’s Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Say what?

The term “medium chain triglyceride” explains the arrangement of the carbon atoms in the oil after it has been processed from the coconut’s flesh. But only recently did coconut take on the status of a superfood. Though coconut oil is mostly made up of saturated fat, this saturated fat is loaded with MCTs and humans metabolize MCTs differently than other, long-chain fatty acids, such as those found in butter or other animal fats. MCTs go straight to the liver for quick energy or are turned into ketones, or stored fat that is turned into energy when your diet does not contain enough carbohydrates to metabolize into sugar for energy. Ketones are said to offer the body more energy than glucose and to speed up metabolism, a boon for anyone trying to lose those last five pounds.

And, because of the high levels of lauric acid in those MCTs, coconut oil actually is said to act as a balm for your heart. It does not raise LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and can reduce artery damage. You see, MCTs can benefit just about everyone.

At least this is what proponents of coconut oil tout. And companies have jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. Bulletproof’s Fatwater line is infused with coconut oil for “mental refreshment.” RAU Chocolate’s  Coconut flavor is a superfood drink, combining virgin coconut oil and unrefined organic coconut palm sugar with cacao to “re-energize.” Cocomulsion Brain is a nutritional supplement that blends coconut oil with whey protein, fish oil and vitamin E, to boost energy, manage weight and support better digestion. And Better Body Foods’ Liquid Coconut MCT Oil stays liquid at cold temperatures and “promotes sustained energy.”

Who Needs Coffee?

With all the energizing properties of coconut oil, who needs coffee? Or, better said, it is time to stir a tablespoon of coconut oil into my coffee. So long almond milk, hello coconut oil!

New Foods Meet Paleo and Gluten-Free Diet Needs

delicious gluten-free paleo alternative

Gluten-free foods, such as Mission Foods organic corn tortillas, are not new. But more products than ever are out there that meet the needs of gluten-free eaters. The rise in gluten-free products may be partially attributed to the crowds following the low or no carbs paleo diet – both crowds can eat cheese, for example – and those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance are able to find ever more products on the market that replace gluten-bearing foods such as bread and crackers. May, also known as Celiac Disease Awareness Month, seems a fitting time to explore a few of the new, more nutrient-dense options in the marketplace for those seeking to replace gluten foods. Though there are numerous celiac disease foods to avoid, we rounded up a few of our new gluten-free favorites, products that do a better job than their predecessors at filling a product niche. High protein paleo foods(naturally gluten-free) are also included.

Let’s Do…™ Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones

Shaped like your favorite wafer cone, Let’s Do…. Gluten Free Classic Cones are flat-bottomed, imported from Israel, and made from the expected potato and tapioca starches. Though made without the supportive strength of gluten, the cones held up well, managing to keep their shape when piled with strawberry gelato on a recent warm day and man-handled by an eager five year-old. Let’s Do... also makes a gluten-free sugar cone. Cones were one of the last remaining product categories where a gluten-free alternative product was not available. This one is a game-changer.

King Soba

Gluten-free noodles are nothing new but the new line of noodles from King Soba take gluten-free noodles to a better, more nutritious place. Soba, a traditional Japanese noodle usually made from whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour (which despite its name, is naturally gluten-free), is instead made with 100% buckwheat or a combination of brown rice, amaranth, kale, quinoa or seaweed. But the best part is how they hold up after boiling. Most 100% buckwheat noodles, like white on rice, will stick together, refusing to separate and creating a gloppy, poorly cooked mess. Not King Soba’s organic 100% buckwheat noodles. Follow the prep and cooking instructions on the package and your noodles will emerge from their scalding bath in perfect strands, ready to be tossed into salads, soups or served solo. And at 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving, they kick those corn and rice noodles to the nutritional curb.

Outer Aisle Gourmet

Bread substitutes are the bane of both paleo and gluten-free adherents. But each group benefits from the cauliflower-based pizza crust and sandwich thins from Outer Aisle Gourmet. Thickened with cheese and eggs, these veggie and protein-friendly wheat dough replacements did not fall apart when toasted or baked and offer a serving of vegetables in each piece and as much as 9 grams of protein. Manufactured in southern California, Outer Aisle Gourmet’s products are next gen, gluten-free and paleo bread.

It has never been a better time to eat gluten-free or live a gluten-free lifestyle. And not just for celiacs or people who conform to a celiac disease diet. As more and more people recognize the health benefits of reducing their gluten intake, companies are responding with a huge range of products that make eating for health and wellness easier than ever. Stay tuned for more of our favorites, during Celiac Awareness Month and throughout the year.