Last month I had the privilege of attending the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. While there, not only was I able to learn about a bunch of exciting products but I was also able to attend several great education sessions. One particularly informative session was about blogging and how to get a fledgling blog going and generate interest in your site. The number one faux pas the speaker said a blogger should never, ever commit was to let there be a long lag time or erratic spacing between posts. Woops.
In all, Expo West was an awesome experience. It was 3 days of meeting new people, trying the latest products and sampling TONS of food (see pic below). There are some really exciting health foods being introduced and it was really great to see where the market is heading; so many vegan-friendly foods, lots and lots of gluten-free items and coconuts everywhere.
Recently, it seems like coconuts are gaining popularity as a health fad appearing in all food products in some form or another. During my time at Expo West some coconutty items that I saw were:
- At least 10 different brands of coconut water
- Granola sweetened with coconut palm sugar and using coconut oil as a binder
- Coconut tea
- Peanut butter and coconut oil spread
- Almond and Coconut milk blends
- Coconut oil sold as a beauty product and health food
- Dehydrated coconut water (powder)
- Coffee infused coconut water
- Fruit juice and coconut water blends
- Coconut flakes as an ingredient in snack bars
So, is it worth the hype? Maybe.
Here is a quick rundown of the top 3 coconut products:
Coconut Water: Personally, I am a fan. After a tough workout where I’ve been sweating enough to feel dehydrated, I find coconut water to be extremely refreshing. As I’ve mentioned before, coconut water has a good balance of electrolytes – sodium, potassium, and magnesium – all of which you lose when you sweat.
Coconut Oil: This is hailed by the health community as somewhat of a miracle oil. The claim is that although coconut oil is a fat (a saturated fat) we digest it differently because it is a medium-chain fatty acid. It also contains lauric acid which is thought to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial properties. Coconut oil is believed to improve digestion and metabolism, be good for skin, and boost the immune system. Some people choose to cook with coconut oil instead of olive oil because it can stand higher temperatures without going rancid. Others add a tablespoon to foods like smoothies or oatmeal.
Coconut Palm Sugar: A few years ago it was all about agave nectar and how this was the healthy sweetener – now there is evidence showing that this may not be the case. I don’t worry too much about which sweetener is better or worse, my feeling is that at the end of the day sugar is sugar and let’s just use it in moderation. However, the latest healthy sugar craze is Coconut Palm Sugar. This sugar is made from coconut tree nectar and may help to maintain blood glucose levels. It is thought to contain more nutrients (such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus) than regular sugar which is good but we shouldn’t really rely on sugar for our nutrients. I guess if you are going to use sugar you may as well get some added nutrients but I don’t think it really makes that much of a difference.