This post was originally published on The Conversation, and was written by Rosemary Stanton, a Nutritionist and Visiting Fellow from the School of Medicinal Sciences at the University of New South Wales.
Coconuts have been a valued food in tropical areas for thousands of years, traditionally enjoyed as coconut water from the centre of the coconut, coconut flesh, or coconut “milk” (made by steeping the flesh in hot water).
Solid white coconut oil (I’ll use this popular term, although technically it’s a fat not an oil) is now the darling of celebrities and bloggers, paleo enthusiasts and sellers of so-called superfoods. Claims for its supposed medical value reverberate around the internet, but how well do they stand up to scientific scrutiny?
Our second brain
We have a second brain in our guts. Known as the enteric nervous system, it consists of a mesh-like network of around 100 million neurons lining the entire gastrointestinal tract. These neurons include a range of cell types operating via a complex system of circuitry largely independent of the central nervous system.
central nervous system,
Breakfast on the brain?
Breakfast, we’ve all been told countless times, is the most important meal of the day. It is claimed that a good breakfast can provide us with the energy needed to start a new day, offer a good source of important nutrients and fibre, helping to contribute to a more nutritionally complete diet overall, and even reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese, or developing high blood pressure, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes.
In addition to being good for our health, eating – or not eating – breakfast has also been linked to effects on our cognitive performance, alertness, concentration, and mood. It is claimed that eating breakfast can enhance memory, improve concentration levels and mood, decrease stress, and improve attention span.
Since the discovery that dietary saturated fats increase plasma cholesterol levels, low fat foods have been an important area of research, mainly because a link was assumed between plasma cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk.
Recent studies have suggested that the connection between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular health is more tenuous than was previously thought. Despite this, advisory bodies, such as the British Heart Foundation, still recommend that people should avoid saturated fats as much as possible and eat small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
sugar and substitutes,
The leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees, the weather has turned wet and windy, and the nights are drawing in. Autumn is well and truly here. But while the downturn in the weather can sometimes have us feeling a little gloomy, the coming of autumn is also a time that gets many people thinking about going out into the countryside to pick fruit from heavily laden trees and explore the forest floors for curious forms of fungi.
There are estimated to be over 50,000 species of edible plants in the world and many different edible mushrooms, yet in the industrialised world almost all of our food comes from just a handful of species, picked not from the trees but from the supermarket shelves.
vitamins and minerals,
environment and sustainability,