February 2, 2011

Organic coconut is a healthy ingredient in three of our grain-free foods; Embark, Zeal and Preference. Some have questioned why this is included in our recipes for these foods. Our certified organic coconut is sourced from Thailand. Coconuts are actually the seeds (not a true nut) of the coconut tree or, maprao, in Thai. They drop from the trees and take root, with the flesh and juice fertilizing the new growth. Some fall into waterways and take root on distant shores. (See photo below) This is the largest member of the Palm family and can grow as tall as 98 feet! They prefer sandy soils and the saline environment of a tropical shoreline. They also thrive where there is a lot of rain, high humidity and warm temperatures.

The meat of the coconut, similar to many nut meats, is higher in protein but contains less sugar than many common fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges. It is also high in iron, phosphorous and zinc. The 60% fat content of the coconut is primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids. As opposed to longer-chain plant-based vegetable oils which are ganerally stored as fat in the body, the oil in coconut is quickly burned and used for energy. This is nature’s richest source of these medium-chain fatty acids, one of the most important being lauric acid. Lauric acid is similar to the fat found in breast milk and has been show to enhance brain function and strengthen the immune system. When consumed in the diet, it is converted to monolaurin which as been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties as well as being able to destroy protozoa such as Giardia.

Coconut and coconut oil is used across the globe to treat a variety of health issues including; abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dysentery, erache, fever, flu, gingivitis, jaundice, kidney stones, skin infections, toothaches, tuberculosis, tumor, etc. It can help support your dog’s thyroid function and increase metabolism, too, according to Dr. Deva Khalsa, VMD. In the Pacific Islands, the coconut palm is so highly valued that it is called “the Tree of Life.” Only recently have our modern scientists begun to discover the coconut’s astonishing healing abilities.

Coconut is considered a warming food in Traditional Chinese Medicine with a sweet taste and helps to nurture the body, building energy, blood and body mass. It is useful in soothing internal membranes and can work as a laxative. It also tonifies the heart and is one of the healthiest oils you can use on your skin!

For more information about our other whole foods ingredients, please visit our website: http://www.thehonestkitchen.com/products/learn/our-ingredients/

Resources for this article include:

Natural Dog; A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs, by Dr. Deva Khalsa, VMD, Bowtie Press, 2009

The New Whole Foods Encycolopedia; A Comprehensive Guide for Healthy Eating, by Rebecca Wood, Penquin Compass, 1999