If you have a craze for all things coconut as much as I do, you’re probably familiar with coconut butter. Or, maybe you’ve seen jars of the creamy, whitish coconut product at the grocery store.
But do you know what sets coconut oil and coconut butter apart?
How about the health benefits of coconut butter? Is this pricey product really worth its price tag? Or is it a jar-full of ‘artery clogging’ saturated fats?
And how do you use coconut butter? Or store it?
This article will cover all the questions you may have about coconut butter. Plus, I’ll also share a do-it-yourself video to try at home – this will save you a lot of money over time.
Coconut butter vs. Coconut oil: One and the same?
Short answer: Not at all. But it is quite common to confuse the two, especially when coconut oil is in its solid form.
Although they both come from the coconut, coconut butter, and coconut oil are very different. Just like peanut butter and peanut oil are very distinct products. Coconut butter is a spread that is made by blending the meat of a coconut. On the other hand, coconut oil is, well, the oil that is extracted from the coconut meat.
In cold climates, coconut oil is usually a hard solid with a nutty flavor that sticks around even after you’re done cooking. When the weather is warmer, coconut oil becomes a semi-soft solid at room temperature. If you live in a hot climate like I do, the oil will turn into a thick liquid unless you refrigerate it.
If the weather is hot, coconut butter is likely to be a semi-soft solid. During cooler months, or when refrigerated, coconut butter becomes quite hard. The texture of coconut butter will depend on how well it has been blended – blending for 15 to 20 minutes or using a high-end blender will usually yield a very creamy paste.
Coconut butter vs. Coconut oil: Nutrition facts
Unlike coconut oil, coconut butter still contains some protein and fiber. According to the USDA Food Products Database, 1 tablespoon (16g) of pure, unsweetened coconut butter made from the whole coconut contains:
- 105 calories
- 1g of protein
- 5g of fat
- 4g of carbohydrates
- 5g of fiber
- 1g of sugar
- 54g of iron
1 tablespoon (16g) of virgin coconut oil contains:
- 121 calories
- 0g of carbohydrate (0g of sugar)
- 0g of protein
- 5g of fat
- 0g of fiber
- 0 g of iron
The other names of coconut butter
As far as I know, coconut butter has three other aliases namely:
- Coconut manna
- Coconut concentrate
- Creamed coconut – this one usually has a grainy texture
Top 6 proven health benefits of coconut butter
1. Can help reduce inflammation
Did you know that the fat in coconut butter contains various antioxidants known to lower inflammation? In a lab study involving rats with induced arthritis, rodents given coconut fat experienced a reduction in inflammatory markers (substances that cause inflammation). They also healed faster.
Why should everyone care about reducing inflammation?
Simple: low-grade, persistent inflammation has been linked to a host of diseases ranging from autoimmune conditions to heart disease, accumulation of fat around the organs, and even depression.
2. Can strengthen the immune system
Have you heard of lauric acid, the medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut butter? Well, it is most well-known for its antimicrobial properties. You see, when you eat coconut butter, you’re also ingesting lauric acid which enzymes in your digestive tract will transform into monolaurin.
Monolaurin has been found to prevent the proliferation of harmful bacteria thanks to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In other words, lauric acid can indirectly help to keep the gut healthy. And since about 85% of our immune system resides in the gut, this fatty acid can therefore boost your immunity.
3. May improve insulin resistance
In a nutshell, insulin resistance occurs when cells are no longer able to respond appropriately to the hormone insulin. When this happens, blood sugar levels tend to become erratic. This can pave the way for diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease among other complications.
And that’s where coconut butter can help. Thanks to the healthy fats it contains, coconut butter can help improve insulin function by:
- Improving the function of the hormone insulin
- Preventing blood sugar spikes – this, in turn, lowers the need for insulin
- Repairing the cell walls, thus allowing the cells to respond better to insulin
4. May facilitate weight loss
You’re probably asking yourself ‘How can fat help you lose weight?’ Well, coconut butter is not just any fat.
Contrary to popular belief, weight gain and accumulation of body fat is not necessarily caused by eating too much or not moving enough. You can actually gain weight if:
- You can’t sleep well
- Your gut is unhealthy
- Your hormones are out of whack
- You’ve developed insulin resistance
- You’re unable to deal with stress well
- Your immune system is constantly being triggered
- You’re in a state of chronic low-grade inflammation
And the list goes on.
How can coconut butter help?
Consuming coconut butter can make it easier for you to lose weight by helping to (i) decrease inflammation; (ii) heal the digestive tract; and (iii) improve insulin resistance as discussed earlier.
Moreover, coconut butter is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that has been shown to:
- Boost the metabolism (that is, help your body burn more energy even when you’re not doing anything)
- Nourish muscles and facilitate muscle recovery after training. This can make it easier for you to increase your muscle mass. And the more muscle you have, the more energy your body will burn. This being said, you won’t turn into Rambo even if you eat one jar of coconut butter daily.
- Reduce the appetite by balancing appetite-controlling hormones and by facilitating the production of ketone bodies by the liver.
5. Can decrease risks of heart disease
Yes, I am fully aware that coconut butter, like all coconut products, contains saturated fats. But consuming saturated from whole foods can, in fact, increase HDL-cholesterol which is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
6. May offer protection against viruses and bacteria
As mentioned earlier, coconut butter contains lauric acid which is then transformed into monolaurin in the digestive tract. Monolaurin also possesses anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties – it can disintegrate the fatty envelope that enclose the virus or bacteria. Since this envelope protects the virus or bacteria, breaking it apart exposes the organism.
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