Health benefits of coconut
Filled with minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, and selenium and packed with nutrients, coconut is nutritious, healthy, and, of course, delicious.
Furthermore, coconut can actually improve your health, help you lose weight, and lower blood sugar.
Keep reading if you are curious to learn about all the health benefits of coconut and how to incorporate this wonderful superfood into your diet.
Coconut Nutrition Facts
Coconut meat, which is the white flesh you see inside the coconut, is preferred by people because it is very high in calories and fat while also being moderate in protein and carbs content.
One cup of shredded, fresh coconut meat contains:
- 283 calories
- 27 grams of fat
- 10 grams of carbs
- 3 grams of protein
- 5 grams of sugar
- 7 grams of fiber
In addition, the same quantity includes the following important nutrients:
- Manganese – 60% Daily Value (DV)
- Copper – 44% DV
- Selenium – 15% DV
- Phosphorus – 13% DV
- Zinc – 10% DV
- Iron – 11% DV
- Potassium – 6% DV
Manganese and copper are particularly important. Manganese helps support the metabolism and enzyme function while copper helps with heart health and bone formation.
Coconut’s High Fat Content
Although it’s a fruit, coconut has a really high-fat content. 90% of this fat is saturated fat, which is fully absorbed in the small intestine. Saturated fat is what the body uses it to produce energy, however, generally speaking, saturated fat is not healthy. But the fatty acid found in coconut, lauric acid, mimics the effects of unsaturated fats, which is why, despite its high-fat content, coconut is still considered healthy.
Coconut’s Fiber Content
One cup of shredded coconut offers 7 grams of fiber, about is 20% of the daily value needed by the body. The great thing about coconut fiber is that it is insoluble, which means it cannot be digested. It simply works inside the body to help food move throughout the digestive system. Thanks to this, coconut fiber can actually improve bowel health.
Health Benefits Of Coconut
After analyzing the nutritional profile, it is time to discuss all the benefits of coconut in detail. But, before doing so, we have to mention that eating coconut is not a cure nor a treatment for any health problems you might experience and, while coconut can improve your overall health, it is important to seek medical advice if you have any health concerns.
Boosting Heart Health
The easiest way to incorporate coconut into your diet is to use coconut oil as a substitute for vegetable oil. This healthy substitution can boost heart health. Coconut oil may boost HDL cholesterol while reducing LDL cholesterol. This can significantly decrease the risk of developing heart diseases.
When compared to butter and olive oil, coconut oil is definitely the better choice, as proved by many studies.
A one-month study featuring 91 people had them receive one of these three every single day:
- 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 50 ml of extra virgin coconut oil
- Unsalted butter
People inside the coconut oil group had clear improvements in HDL cholesterol levels, improvements that were not seen within the olive oil or butter groups.
Supporting Weight Loss
Various studies suggested the fact that the high MCT content inside coconut can promote calorie burning, fat burning, and feelings of satiety, which could easily support weight loss. In addition, coconut meat has a very high fiber content. This can boost fullness that prevents overeating.
The problem with many of the studies is that they used high MCT and coconut oil quantities. It is hard to consume so much every single day. This means that it is not clear if regular coconut consumption can have similar effects.
Improving Digestive Health
The high fiber content in coconuts is of interest since fibers help bulk up stools while supporting bowel regularity. Fiber is vital to keep the digestive system healthy. Besides the fiber content, coconut also contains fat, which can help the body to absorb most fat-soluble nutrients. This includes vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Coconut products, including shredded coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut water, contain MCTs that strengthen gut bacteria. In turn, this helps the body to protect itself against various conditions like inflammation and metabolic syndrome.
Includes Powerful Antioxidants
Coconut meat has a high antioxidants content that can help protect your cells against oxidative damage. The antioxidants present are phenolic compounds. Those that are prevalent are:
- Caffeic acid
- Gallic acid
- P-coumaric acid
- Salicylic acid
The lab tests that were performed on coconut showed that the fruit has free-radical-scavenging and antioxidant activity. It also includes polyphenols that can prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation. Thanks to these properties, when you eat coconut, it is less likely for plaque to be formed inside your arteries. Also, heart disease risk might be reduced because of the presence of these polyphenols.
The last thing that should be said about the antioxidants that are found inside coconut oil is that they might protect the cells from death and damage caused by oxidative stress and invasive but invasive treatments, such as chemotherapy.
Other Health Benefits Of Eating Coconut
Eating coconut might have different other health benefits. Some that are worth mentioning are:
Stabilizing blood sugar – The fruit lower blood sugar levels and alter gut bacteria, which can improve natural blood sugar control.
Improving immunity – The antioxidants and manganese present in coconut could help the immune system and might reduce inflammation. In addition, the MCTs can be attributed to tumor-suppressing, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Fight bacteria and viruses – coconut contains lauric acid, a powerful substance that is oftentimes used for developing monolaurin. Monolaurin is an anti-microbial agent that can fight many pathogens including bacteria and viruses.
Brain benefits – MCTs offer a proper alternative fuel source that can be used instead of glucose. This can aid people that have impaired brain function or those diagnosed with degenerative brain conditions, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
How Much Coconut Should You Eat In A Day?
The question is very difficult to answer because the recommended content intake varies from one person to another. The adequate quantity depends on the actual coconut products that are consumed since there are various kinds available at the moment. At the same time, it is important to take into account other fats that are consumed throughout the day. It is possible to consume too much of practically anything so make sure you make smart choices when incorporating coconut products into your diet. Coconut oil may be healthy but it is best to use only as a replacement for vegetable oil and not to add it in as many food recipes as possible. You can also use coconut milk in your coffee from time to time but be aware that the calorie count will significantly go up.
Many people really like coconut and consume as much as they can. However, if over 25% of the calories you eat come from coconut, it is a very good idea to reduce intake so you can add some other healthy fats and proteins into your diet. This includes seafood, fish, grass-fed beef, chicken and pastured pork. You can even add more macadamia nuts due to their low Omega 6 fatty acids content.
Coconut can be labeled as a superfood. Most of the options you find in supermarkets are very rich in saturated fat content and include numerous micronutrients that can improve your cholesterol levels.
The only real problem to be aware of is associated with coconut water. This is because it includes numerous pure carbs. If you want to lose weight and you limit carbs in your diet, you need to avoid coconut water.
When Is Coconut Bad For You?
Coconut meat does have numerous benefits but there are some potential downsides people need to be aware of. For instance, the high saturated fat content can be controversial.
A study featuring 115,000 healthy adults showed that intake of high saturated fat is associated with increased heart disease risk. Even if the topic is debated, studies did show us that using unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats can lower heart disease risks. However, since the saturated fat contained by coconut behaves similarly to unsaturated fat, you shouldn’t be as concerned about consuming coconut products as you should be about other saturated fats.
What many scientists say is that nobody can argue with the fact that consuming too much coconut can damage the health of your heart. However, it is added that most people just do not eat enough coconut to end up affected by negative health effects. This is especially the case when referring to the Western diet.
What is clear is that coconut has many calories. If you overeat, you can easily end up with weight gain. Calorie restrictions might be needed in other parts of the diet.
Last but not least, allergies are possible, even if they are really rare. People that are allergic to coconuts are not necessarily allergic to other nuts.
Will Coconut Cause Weight Gain?
At first glance, everything about coconut looks beneficial. However, when we look at what was mentioned about saturated fat and calories, it is important to be careful with how much you consume. Saturated fat consumption is properly understood at the moment and it is no longer seen as being incredibly negative for the body. Even so, it is not fully good.
Some of the really important facts that everyone needs to know about the subject are:
- Canned coconut milk used in home recipes can include 450 calories per cup. The same quantity also includes 43 grams of fat.
- One tablespoon of coconut oil has 120 calories plus 12 grams of fat.
For the average 2,000 calories per day diet, the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends consuming just 13 grams of saturated fat. This means you can easily end up going over the recommended daily limit, especially if portion sizes are not carefully measured.
As an example, a matcha latte made with coconut milk includes 190 calories. It also has 7 grams of fat (saturated), which is over 50% of the daily recommended dosage.
In the event that you like coconut oil or coconut milk, there is nothing wrong with adding it to your diet. However, moderation is key because coconut has many calories and a lot of saturated fat. Serious weight gain can appear without you even realizing why.
How To Use Coconut Meat
You can buy coconut meat in various forms, like dried, shredded and frozen. Even whole coconuts can be bought. This is actually preferred by many as they can get both coconut milk and coconut meat.
You can use coconut meat in numerous ways, like:
- Shredding in order to add to mixed greens, oatmeal, yogurt or fruit salad.
- Blending to add to sauces, dips, and smoothies.
- Combining with breadcrumbs to make it easy to coat poultry, tofu, fish and meat.
- Drying to add to a trail mix.
- Stirring chunks inside stews, cooked grains, and stir-fries.
Coconut stands out as a fruit with a high-fat content that has many interesting health benefits. It can help the body to naturally fight against diseases and there are studies that show it helps reduce heart disease risk.
The problem is that coconut has a very high calorie and fat content. Due to this, you need to be really careful with portion sizes. This is particularly important when you’re struggling with weight loss or your diet is a low-fat one.
Fortunately, for most people, coconut can be eaten as flour, dried or raw. It is always delicious and can easily be added to savory dishes or baked goods if you choose to do so and it is very difficult to consume too much this way.