In tropical countries around the globe, coconut trees are dubbed the “tree of life” and for good reason. Each portion of the tree, from the coconuts up top to the roots at the bottom, are utilized and made into a number of healthful products. These include coconut milk, coconut oil and coconut butter.
Coconut butter might be a lot less popular than coconut oil, but it has most of the same healthful qualities found in coconut oil. In fact, according to Mike Roussell, a nutrition consultant to professional athletes, coconut butter appears to be healthier than coconut oil from a nutritional standpoint.
Coconut oil is made from pure fat. But coconut butter, being made from pureed coconut meat, also contains small amounts of other essential nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and iron, said Roussell, and these nutrients might be behind most of the health benefits attributed to coconut butter.
Health benefits of coconut butter
Unlike the standard, store-bought butter, coconut butter confers a number of benefits on human health. Plus, despite its rich lipid profile, coconut butter remains one of the healthiest butters out there, being made from an organic, plant-based food. Here are six incredible health benefits of coconut butter:
Supports immune health – Coconut butter contains lauric acid, a fatty acid hailed for its beneficial effects on immune health.
Fights pathogens– Coconut butter has also been found to possess potent antimicrobial properties that can help protect against pathogens and other harmful biological agents.
Boosts metabolism– Together, the fiber and fats in coconut butter boost metabolism for better digestion. Recent studies also found that the fats in coconut butter can sustain feelings of fullness for longer periods.
Enhances athletic performance– Fats in coconut butter are absorbed in the gut and processed as fuel. This makes it a potent health food for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Reduces cholesterol– Fiber also helps inhibit the absorption of excess cholesterol in the gut. This helps minimize the risk of health complications and conditions linked to high cholesterol.
Boosts brain functions– Recent studies found that fats in coconut oil also double as a fuel source for brain cells in need of glucose. Fats from coconut oil and coconut butter had also been found to boost brain function and protect the brain from age-related decline that can lead to dementia.
Making coconut butter at home
Coconut butter can be found in most health stores, but it's also possible to make it at home using just shredded coconut, coconut oil and a food processor or a blender.
To make coconut butter, blend the shredded coconut and coconut oil together to form a smooth paste. This can take 10–20 minutes depending on the machine used. Then, pour the paste into an airtight glass jar or container. The paste should firm up at room temperature after just a couple of hours. It can be left as is or stored in the fridge.
Smoothies – Use coconut butter in making smoothies and shakes to add creaminess.
Frosting – Spread coconut butter on homemade cupcakes and cakes instead of using store-bought frosting.
Fudge – Mix equal amounts of coconut butter and nut butter for a quick and simple fudge. Blend and transfer it onto a loaf or baking dish to let it set. Freeze until solid.
Creamer – Use coconut butter instead of milk or store-bought creamer for coffee.
Jam or fruit puree – Stir a tablespoon of coconut butter into homemade fruit jams or purees for a creamier texture.
Curries – Stir a tablespoon of coconut butter into curries for added texture.
Fruit stuffing – Stuff cold coconut butter into fruits like dates for a quick and delicious snack.
Salad dressings – Melt a tablespoon of coconut butter and stir it into a classic salad dressing.
Homemade chocolate – Mix melted coconut butter and ground cocoa or crushed dark chocolate bars to make a quick batch of nutritious, homemade chocolate.
Coconut butter is an ideal plant-based substitute for milk-based butter and it boasts a range of health benefits to boot. Make a large batch at home and incorporate it into a balanced diet to reap its natural goodness.