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How Delicious Coconut Milk Can Improve Your Health

How Delicious Coconut Milk Can Improve Your Health

Have you tried coconut milk yet? No?

Well, if you’ve been using it for awhile, you’ll be happy to see why you should keep doing so. If it’s new for you, you’ll definitely want to get on board.

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is different from coconut water, as the milk comes from the grated meat of the brown coconut. The water is what you drink out of a young green coconut with a straw on a Copacabana beach while wearing a speedo.

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The grated meat is then mixed with water and the grating process can be done by hand or by modern grating machines. We are mostly going to find it in canned form, which combines thick and thin milk together.

The rich flavor and creaminess of coconut milk comes from the high oil content — a large component of the milk is saturated fat. This fat is one of the healthy fats that should be part of your diet.

So, what are the health benefits that can come from consuming coconut milk? I’m glad you asked!

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1. Its Fat Comes From Beneficial Short- And Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

If you’re concerned about the saturated fat issue, these are the types of short-chain fats that are digested in a different way in the body than the long-chain ones. The medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed and transported directly to the liver, where they are burned for energy. They are not stored as fat and can actually have a fat-burning effect, called thermogenesis.

2. It Is High In Lauric Acid

Lauric acid makes up a large part of the fat in coconut milk. Lauric acid has some interesting health benefits, including anti-bacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Lauric acid has a disease-fighting ability, as well as being able to boost the immune system.

Lauric acid can also have the effect of making the blood vessels more elastic and help keep them clean. This is important for lowering the risk of things like heart disease and atherosclerosis.

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3. It Can Help Lower Cholesterol

If you eat a lot of packaged or fast food, you can be pretty sure you are consuming some pretty awful trans fats. These types of fats are used in manufactured foods in order to give the “foods” an improved texture, firmness, and mouthfeel. They also increase shelf life, which is likely the main reason why these things went into the products in the first place. It’s like a deadly preservative.

People who switched to foods containing lauric acid, like found in coconut milk, showed a favorable improvement in blood lipid profiles.

4. It Is Good For The Hair And Skin

The fats and vitamin E in coconut milk is what helps in making it effective at moisturizing the hair. Fresh coconut milk can help nourish the hair and promote hair growth. It also has the ability to help clean out your pours by removing dirt. It keeps the skin well hydrated and moisturized, and even has a slight exfoliating effect by being able to remove dead skin cells.

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And you even get to smell like a pina colada all day, without having to hear Jimmy Buffett sing.

5. It Is High In Fiber

The common high fiber choices are usually centered around grains like wheat bran, oat bran, and psyllium husk. Coconut milk can be included in here as it contains 2.2 grams of dietary fiber in a 100-gram serving. Soluble fiber can help promote healthy cholesterol levels, as well as combat heart disease. The other key thing is that the high fiber content helps promote feelings of fullness for longer, which can help in avoiding overeating.

Wrapping It Up

Coconut milk is something that’s very easy to use and really elevates dishes like soups and curries. It adds a creaminess and unique flavor to anything it’s added to and is great for those who need to avoid lactose. So, give it a whirl and feel free to share any ways you love to use it in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Pedro Cardoso via flickr.com

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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