It began with coconut water. Then coconut milk and sugar became nutrition fads, and people even started putting the oil in their coffee. Now it seems every other snack on store shelves contains coconut. Why is it so good for you?
For starters, both the meat and the oil are high in fat, particularly a saturated fat called lauric acid. “This keeps you satiated, but unlike other kinds of fat, it’s easier to digest, which boosts your metabolism,” says Andie Bernard Schwartz, a New Jersey–based dietitian. “Lauric acid has also been shown to control blood sugar, keeping your energy levels in check.” Coconut is likewise high in fiber and has essential nutrients, like manganese and potassium, and, while filling, it’s still light – you’re not going to fall into a food coma after eating a coconut snack.
There’s a caveat to those benefits. Manufacturers are churning out products with coconut knowing people automatically think these snacks are healthier, Schwartz says. “Many of these foods don’t contain much actual coconut but do have a lot of sugar and hydrogenated oils.” Check labels for 10 or fewer grams of sugar and zero trans fats, or just shop for our picks.
1. Coconut Manna
A creamy, delicious spread with one ingredient – pureed coconut. We like Nutiva’s Organic Coconut Manna on toast and in sandwiches or smoothies.
2. Coconut Chips
Crunchy shredded pieces of toasted coconut with a nutrition profile that beats any traditional chip’s. Look for brands that use minimal ingredients, like Dang Foods Toasted Coconut Chips.
3. Coconut-Milk Yogurt
Instead of flavored yogurts (which can be packed with sugar, chemicals, and 200-plus calories), try the unsweetened, dairy-free version from So Delicious. It’s thick, creamy, and flavorful on its own; plus it contains 25 percent of your daily calcium.
4. Coconut-Milk Ice Cream
While most ice creams are loaded with things you can’t pronounce, this rich, nondairy dessert typically contains only a handful of natural ingredients, like our pick, Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss.
5. Coconut “Bacon”
Craving something savory? This crispy coconut-flake vegan snack from Phoney Baloney tastes delicious, though not exactly like bacon.
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