RAW IN CUENCAWhat “superfood” is sold on the street and costs a quarter?
by Susan Schenck
What is a health-conscious, primarily raw fooder to do when hunger strikes while shopping or running errands downtown? At the risk of creating massive inflation for my favorite Cuencano snack, I’ve decided to share this incredible secret with you.
You’ve seen the venders with the carts selling fruits. Well, what I’m about to share with you may impact your health for years to come. For only 25 cents, you can get the tastiest and healthiest treat of all — and it actually helps you lose weight!
Coconut ranks extremely high on the hierarchy of “superfood” — foods extraordinarily rich in nutrients. And the great thing about the vendors is, they do the hatchet job for you! (I actually heard through the grapevine that a raw chef lost one of her fingers while splitting a coconut. Yikes!) For only a quarter, you can get four already-cut slices of coconut meat. One vendor stereotyped me as a rich gringo tourist and charged me 50 cents for the packet; don’t let them get away with that!
As I write in my book The Live Food Factor, “Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCTs). Most vegetable oils are composed of long chain triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are usually stored as fat, while MCTs are burned for energy and increase metabolic rates, leading to weight loss. One study showing that MCTs help keep weight down, ‘Overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides in the rat’ (Metabolism, 1987), points out that the body is less inclined to store fat with MCTs and that eating them is even better than a low-fat diet at decreasing stored fat. Farmers have known for years to feed animals LCTs, such as soybean and corn oil, to fatten them up, and to feed them MCTs to trim them down.”
Coconut cannot be stored in the body as fat; it actually needs to be burned up on the spot! But even if you don’t have weight issues, coconut is a super deal. The oils contain antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial protection. They stabilize blood sugar. They consist of 90% saturated fat — rare in the plant kingdom and needed by the brain. They contain a natural precursor to the anti-aging hormone compound known as pregnenolone. They increase the speed of the thyroid, which helps with weight loss and maintenance. They support healthy cholesterol formation in the liver, and much much more. You can get an entire coconut filled with coconut water for only a buck and a half. Young coconut water is nearly identical to human blood plasma, making it a universal donor. It was actually used in WWII to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers. Drinking this delicious treat gives us an instant blood transfusion!
Every time I walk home from downtown, I have to pass Cuenca's best and oldest chocolate store — the famous Godika on Gran Columbia. Thank God, the coconut vendor is just a block or two before that. Armed with four packs of coconut slices for a dollar, I can walk on by. My tastebuds actually enjoy the coconut better than the chocolate. (OK, once in a while you might see me entering the store, but thanks to the coconut, it’s usually just for one or two bite-sized chocolates.)
And as we’ll see, the chocolate itself isn't bad, just the sugar mixed in with it. Chocolate is another South American superfood I’ll discuss in a later article.
Finally, does anyone out there in CuencaHighLife land know where I can find coconut butter or coconut oil here in Cuenca? If you do, please email me at the address below.
Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, is a raw-food, health, and weight-loss coach and the author of The Live Food Factor and Beyond Broccoli. She lives in Cuenca and can be reached at email@example.com.