Coconut Benefits: Your Guide to All the Health Advantages of the Drupe
Coconut can be a rather divisive ingredient.
Some people hail it as the ultimate superfood of all time.
Others, claim that you should steer clear of it at all costs.
So, what is the truth behind coconut benefits?
Well, you are about to uncover the real facts behind the health advantages of coconut meat, water, oil, milk, and flour.
Let’s dive in!
Coconut Nutrition Facts
Before moving on, let’s take a look at the nutrient composition of coconut.
With the exception of coconut water, all other coconut derivatives come from coconut meat.
So, let’s consider the main elements of coconut meat.
A single cup of coconut contains:
- Energy: 301 kcal
- Protein: 2.83g
- Fat: 28.5g
- Carbohydrate: 12.9g
- Fiber: 7.65g
Here are the coconut vitamins and minerals content:
- Calcium: 11.9mg
- Iron: 2.06mg
- Manganese: 1.2mg
- Magnesium: 27.2mg
- Phosphorus: 96mg
- Potassium: 303mg
- Sodium: 17mg
- Selenium: 8.58µg
- Vitamin C: 2.8mg
- Folate: 22.1µg
- Choline: 10.3mg
What Food Group is Coconut?
Most people structure their diets so that there are taking in more of one food group and less of another.
Thus, it is important to be able to classify coconut as particular food group.
However, this can be a confusing feat for a few reasons.
Despite its name, coconut is first and foremost a drupe.
The problem is that some drupes can be classified as tree nuts. These are nuts or fruits that grow on trees.
Thus, coconut in some instances is actually categorized as a tree nut, while simultaneously being considered a drupe.
If you are looking to keep things simple, though, you can think of coconut as a fruit.
Is Coconut Meat Good for You?
Most people in the world don’t eat fresh or raw coconut all that much.
This is unfortunate because there is a whole host of benefits of fresh coconut.
Contains Daily Adequate Intake of Manganese
Coconut contains between 75 and 50 percent of your daily recommended dosage of manganese.
So, why is this good news for you?
Well, manganese has several roles in your body.
To begin with, it helps with growth and development and is important for your bones.
It can also boost wound healing.
Manganese can be used to activate certain enzymes that maintain the proper functioning of cells.
Last, but not least, this mineral can determine how your body utilizes carbohydrates and amino acids.
Coconut meat, particularly mature coconut meat, contains antioxidants.
Now, antioxidants help with general wellbeing.
Their main function is counteracting free radicals in the body and preventing cell and tissue damage.
May Improve Digestive Health
Coconut meat contains a significant amount of fiber.
As you may be aware, fiber can help to promote good gut health.
This is due to the fact that it promotes bowel regularity.
Could Aid in Blood Sugar Management
There is some evidence that fresh coconut can help to lower blood glucose levels.
Thus, if you are prone to higher levels, coconut meat could help with management.
May Help with Weight Loss
Due to its high fat and fiber content, coconut can be rather satiating.
This means that it can help you to feel fuller when added to a dish.
In the long run, coconut could ensure that you eat less and lose weight more readily.
You should be mindful of the fact that most of these studies explored the benefits of eating raw coconut or fresh coconut.
Due to this, there is no guarantee that the desiccated, flaked, or shredded coconut nutrition content will be the same.
Always consider the nutrition information stated in any coconut meat products that you buy. This should give you a better idea of how effective they may be for your health.
The Real Health Benefits of Coconut Water
As mentioned, coconut water isn't a part of coconut meat.
Rather, it is the liquid that forms inside of the coconut.
Younger coconuts have a greater amount of coconut water, while mature ones have less.
Since coconut water is separate from coconut meat, it has a different set of nutrients:
- Water: 228g
- Energy: 45.6 kcal
- Protein: 1.73g
- Total Lipid: 0.48g
- Carbohydrate: 8.9g
- Fiber: 2.64g
- Sugars: 6.26g
- Calcium: 57.6mg
- Iron: 0.696mg
- Magnesium: 60mg
- Phosphorus: 48mg
- Potassium: 600mg
- Sodium: 252mg
- Zinc: 0.24mg
- Copper: 0.096mg
- Manganese: 0.341mg
- Selenium: 2.4µg
- Vitamin C: 5.76mg
- Thiamin: 0.072mg
- Riboflavin: 0.137mg
- Folate: 7.2µg
- Choline: 2.64mg
The Hydrating Properties of Coconut Water
The most well-known benefit of coconut water is that it is great for rehydration.
Coconut water is largely made up of water, but also contains plenty of electrolytes.
Since your body loses electrolytes when you sweat, coconut water can be a great way to make up this deficit.
Not to mention, coconut water is tasty, making it a lot more pleasant to drink than water.
A Note About the Benefits of Coconut Water
Although people have been drinking coconut water for years and years, there aren't too many human trials exploring the benefits of this beverage.
Rather, most of the experiments have been conducted on rats.
Now, in these trials, there have been numerous benefits of coconut water.
However, more research on humans needs to be conducted to determine if these results will be duplicated in humans as well.
Until then, here are some of the possible health advantages of coconut water…
May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
One of the difficulties faced by diabetics is managing their blood sugar levels.
However, this could prove to be easier to do with coconut water.
Diabetic rats were given coconut water. Over this period, they showed lower blood glucose levels.
The even better news were that these results appeared to remain over a longer period of time.
Although coconut water may not reduce your need for diabetic medication, it could allow you to get better control over the disease.
Could Improve Heart Health
Two factors that contribute to heart disease are higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
There is some evidence to show that coconut water could actually bring these levels down to a healthier point.
In fact, the effect appears to be similar to that of statin, a drug that is given to reduce the risk of heart disease.
It should be noted that you will need to consume several liters of water to see such a benefit.
However, drinking moderate amounts of coconut water could have a positive impact on your heart health.
Could Contain Antioxidant Properties
It isn't just coconut meat that has antioxidant properties – coconut water has it too!
In one experiment, it was found that rats who were given coconut water had a reduction in oxidation stress.
In fact, the antioxidants in the water had a protective effect on the liver.
In addition to protecting the rats from oxidative stress, there was some signs that antioxidant properties of the coconut water could lower blood pressure levels as well.
Understanding Coconut Oil Benefits
Coconut oil has been propelled to new heights followed by surprising lows.
For the most part, it doesn’t appear that many people can’t agree on whether coconut oil is good for you or not.
So, what’s the truth?
Well, it should be noted that coconut oil is largely made up of saturated fats.
Due to this, it is important to consume coconut oil in moderation.
Otherwise, you could potentially increase your risk of gaining weight or cardiovascular disease.
At the same time, the coconut oil nutrition means that it does have many benefits – both when consumed and used topically.
Let’s take a look at these:
May Help to Reduce Abdominal Fat
Abdominal fat can be especially stubborn and difficult to lose.
At the same time, this type of fat can increase your risk of heart-related problems.
Fortunately, small amounts of coconut oil could help you to lose abdominal fat.
What's more, this effect isn't seen with other plant-based oils!
Works as an Antifungal
Candida, a type of fungus, can cause numerous issues in humans.
One of the more common avenues for treating candida is to prescribe antibiotics.
This may not be necessary, though.
This is because coconut oil can help to get rid of this fungus in the body.
The effect is virtually identical to that of prescribed antibiotics.
Has Antibacterial Properties
Most people underestimate bacteria in the mouth.
However, infections in oral cavities are rather serious. If they aren't eradicated, they can cause a
whole host of problems in other parts of the body.
Well, it would appear that coconut oil is effective against Streptococcus mutans, a strain of bacteria that causes cavities.
It is also quite effective against another strain – Lactobacillus.
In both instances, coconut oil was similar or better than traditionally prescribed medications.
Can Be Used to Treat Edemas
Coconut oil can be used to reduce the size of edemas – swellings on the body due to inflammation or injuries.
This is due to the fact that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects.
It may also help to ease the pain associated with such swellings.
Can Reduce Skin Inflammation
Coconut oil can help inflammations of all kinds.
For instance, it is excellent with skin inflammations that may be the result of either natural conditions or irritants.
The Top Benefits of Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is increasingly used an alternative to dairy milk.
It is also a popular ingredient in numerous cuisines.
So, is there some benefit for coconut milk for your health?
Well, there are a couple of uses:
Could Aid in Treatment of Ulcers
Ulcers are a common, but painful, condition.
However, scientists have discovered that ulcers in rats decreased in size when they were given coconut milk.
What's just as impressive is that the coconut milk was as effective as prescribed medications.
As such, it could prove to be an all-natural remedy.
Benefits of Eating Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is relatively new on the market.
Due to this, there still needs to be some research conducted on the complete list of health benefits of this flour.
For now, though, there are a few health advantages to take note of…
The most notable thing about coconut flour is that it has a lower glycemic index than wheat flour.
As a result, it doesn’t cause as much of a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Another benefit is that coconut flour can be more nutritious for you than regular flour.
It contains higher levels of protein and fiber.
As you are aware, both of these nutrients help to keep you healthy.
Thus, if you need to increase your intake of either of these nutrients, coconut flour could be the way to go.
The level of carbs in coconut flakes used to make coconut flour are quite low as well.
So, if you need to follow a low-carb diet for health purposes, coconut flour could do the trick.
A Note About Beneficial Coconut Properties
There are a couple of things that you need to be aware of regarding the health benefits of coconut and its various derivatives.
First, it is important that you choose the best coconut products.
Not all brands make an effort to choose high quality coconuts or to follow proper processes.
Thus, you should always stick with reliable brands and check the ingredient list and nutritional components even then.
To stay on the safe side, it is a good idea to opt for organic brands.
Also, moderation is key here.
Any ingredient – regardless of how healthy it may be – should be consumed in moderation.
Therefore, you should always follow recommended guidelines when adding any kind of coconut ingredient to your food.
This will help you to maximize your health benefits while mitigating any health risks or issues.
You should be aware that coconut allergies are rare but do exist.
If you notice or any discomfort or irritation after consuming or using coconut products, discontinue them immediately.
Make sure to follow up with a doctor as well.
As you can see, virtually all derivatives of coconut can be great for your health.
This is excellent news because this is a delicious ingredient to add to your food!
Riya Borah is a nutritionist educator and her job involves guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle. Growing up in India, Riya was aware of just how much coconut was used on a daily basis. This encouraged her to research the properties of this versatile drupe. It opened her eyes to both the limitation and possibilities of coconut. Her aim is to now educate as many people as possible about the best ways to utilize coconut in their own lives.
An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.