Since You Asked: More folks going nuts for coconuts

Recently, I've been hearing a lot about coconut — how it's a lot healthier for us than mainstream nutrition lets on. What's the difference, though, between coconut milk and coconut water. Don't they both come from inside the nut?

— Rachel B., Ashland

Coconut is indeed one of those rising food trends.

Proponents say coconut oil is among the few cooking and baking fats that can be purchased unrefined. It resists going rancid in storage or oxidizing at high temperatures. Vegans like it because it provides some essential fatty acids, a little calcium and a sense of richness in an otherwise low-fat diet.

The American Heart Association and the government's latest dietary guidelines, however, do not recommend coconut oil over other saturated fats. These groups still favor heart-healthy olive oil or canola oil.

But that hasn't kept people from jumping on the coconut bandwagon, although many such products are expensive. Here's a guide:

  • Coconut water — Coconut water is a clear, thin liquid from inside green or young coconuts. One cup of an unflavored variety contains 20 calories, no saturated fat, 250 milligrams of potassium and 150 milligrams of sodium.
  • Coconut milk — This thick, white liquid is made by extracting some fat from the grated meat of mature coconuts. It has 197 calories and 20 grams of saturated fat per cup.
  • Coconut cream — This is the almost solid cream that rises to the top of coconut milk. Often sold in cans with added sugars and thickeners, it carries a whopping 400 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat per cup.
  • Coconut oil — Extracted from coconut meat, one tablespoon contains 117 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to

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