Good for Your Gut: Coconut vinegar

Coconuts are finally getting their due as one of the healthiest foods out there — and better yet, not a single part of the coconut goes to waste. The edible meat is full of lysine and medium-chain fatty acids that help rev up your body’s fat-burning engines; it can be pressed to create delicious coconut oil, or blended with the coconut water to make a delicious, dairy-free coconut milk. And don’t forget about coconut vinegar!

Speaking of coconut water, its natural electrolyte balance is so close to that of human blood that World War II medics used it to treat dehydration when they ran out of saline. So it’s no surprise that coconut water is pretty much the perfect natural sports drink, thanks to its rich vitamin, mineral and electrolyte content, amino acids, and natural, low-sugar sweetness. Researchers in Nigeria have also shown that coconut water helps detoxify your body, boost your immune system and fight viruses.

Even the coconut’s hard shell gets put to good use — it gets ground up into a fine exfoliating powder for use in natural cosmetics, and the fibrous husk often ends up being used as a liner for planters. But did you know there’s one more coconut product out there that’s good for your body?

Coconut vinegar

Coconut vinegar can be made from fermented coconut water or the sap of a coconut tree. In either case, the end product is a clear, light brown vinegar with a sharp taste — and it’s one of the few vinegars that you can purchase unpasteurized, which means the beneficial probiotics or “friendly bacteria” produced in the fermentation process are still operating at full strength.

As with apple cider vinegar, you want to shop for unfiltered and unpasteurized coconut vinegar that still contains the “mother” — stringy or cloudy-looking bits of enzymes and friendly bacteria produced by the fermentation process. You end up with the same amino acids, vitamins, minerals and alkalizing effect you’d get from coconut water, plus the health benefits of those friendly bacteria and FOS, a prebiotic that encourages the growth of even more friendly bacteria.

So if you’re looking for something new to try, or a healthy new vinegar to use in your favorite salad dressing (here are some recipes to get you started ), check out this good-for-you product that’s started showing up in health food stores.