Coconut, the fruit of the palm tree, is cultivated for its meat, water, milk, and oil. Coconut meat has a chewy texture and a delicious sweet, nutty flavor that is so versatile, it enhances both sweet and savory dishes.
Coconut meat can also be pressed into milk and cream. Dried coconut meat can also be finely ground down into flour – a low carb type of flour that’s perfect for Keto baking.
Coconut and coconut-derived products offer a number of health benefits, like blood sugar regulation and a lower risk of heart disease. Additionally, coconut oil has many medicinal benefits and can be also applied topically for the health of your hair and skin.
Keep reading to find out more about this amazing fruit and how it can benefit your health.
Is Coconut Keto Friendly?
Low-sugar, high-fat fruits like coconut (and avocado) are perfect for the Keto diet because they are low in net carbs and provide a good amount of satiating fat. Coconut based products, like coconut milk, cream, oil and flour also make great low carb options.
If you’re following Keto, you can safely include coconut and coconut-based products in your diet without throwing your body out of ketosis.
How Many Carbs are in Coconut?
Coconut: A ½ cup of raw, shredded coconut meat contains 3.5 grams of carbs. Coconut and coconut-derived products are typically low in carbs as long as they’re consumed in moderation.
Coconut Milk: 1 cup of raw, canned coconut milk contains 6 grams of carbs. Some varieties are lower in carbs than others, so always check the label to select a brand that best supports your specific nutritional needs.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains 0 carbs. Most oils and fats are carb-free.
How Many Calories are in Coconut?
Coconut: A ½ cup serving of raw, shredded coconut meat contains 238 calories. Processed dried coconut can be purchased at your local grocery store, however, they often contain added sugar, so be sure to select the unsweetened variety.
Coconut Milk: 1 cup of raw, canned coconut milk contains 445 calories. If you’re following a calorie-reduction diet, choose lower calorie coconut milk beverages like Silk or Coconut Dream brands available in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
Coconut Oil: 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories.
|Serving: 1/2 cup (40 grams) of fresh, shredded coconut meat|
|Total Fat: 14 grams|
|Fiber: 3.5 grams|
|Total Carbohydrate 5 grams|
|Sugar: 5 grams|
|Selenium: 8% of the DV|
|Potassium 30% of the Daily Value (DV)|
|Copper: 22% of the DV|
|Phosphorus: 7% of the DV|
|Potassium: 3% of the DV|
|Iron: 6% of the DV|
|Zinc: 10% of the DV|
Rich in Nutrients
Coconut provides many essential minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorus, copper and zinc.
Rich in Antioxidants
Coconuts contain powerful polyphenol antioxidants that can protect your cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage, which reduces your risk of cancer and other diseases.
The main phenolic compounds contained in coconut include:
- Gallic acid
- P-coumaric acid
- Caffeic acid
- Salicylic acid
Promotes Heart Health
Eating coconut meat may improve cholesterol levels and help decrease belly fat, two risk factors of heart disease.
Studies show that Polynesian islanders who regularly eat coconut have lower rates of heart disease than individuals who follow a Western diet. It is important to note that native Polynesians also consume diets with more fish and less processed foods, so it is unclear whether their improved heart health is actually because of their coconut consumption or the fact they follow a healthier diet.
Another study conducted on over a thousand Filipino women found that those who ate more coconut oil had higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. On the downside, they also higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher triglycerides.
Improves Blood Sugar Control
Coconut is low in carbs and high in fiber and fat, which may help stabilize blood sugar levels. The fiber in coconut meat helps slow digestion and improve insulin resistance, which also contributes to better blood sugar control.
A research study conducted on rats discovered that coconut had antidiabetic effects. It is believed that these effects are due to coconut’s natural arginine content. Arginine is an amino acid that is helpful for cell function of the pancreas, which releases the hormone insulin to control blood sugar.
When rats with diabetes were given coconut meat, their blood sugar, insulin levels, and other glucose metabolism markers were significantly improved over the rats that were not fed coconut.
Coconut and coconut-based products (milk, cream, oil) are generally safe in normal food amounts. Some individuals are allergic to coconuts, although coconut allergies are rare. If you have an allergy to coconut, you should avoid consuming all coconut-derived products.
10 Uses of Coconut Oil for Hair and Skin Care
- Use coconut oil as a moisturizer to soften skin or as a natural makeup remover.
- Apply coconut oil to your legs to prevent varicose veins.
- Apply coconut oil to the hair and scalp to kill head lice or treat dandruff.
- Use coconut oil on your hair as a natural conditioner to prevent split-ends.
- Apply coconut oil to your face to prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
- Use coconut oil as an antibacterial cream to prevent skin infections.
- Use coconut oil to soothe a sunburn or to treats blisters and burns.
- Apply coconut oil to the nails and toenails to cure fungal conditions.
- Use coconut oil to even out skin tone, improve elasticity, and prevent age spots.
- Use coconut oil to soothe itchy skin or take the sting out of insect bites, bee stings, or snake bites.
10 Amazing Medicinal Uses of Coconut Oil
- Regulates blood sugar levels and insulin production.
- Soothes earaches.
- Helps protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium for strong bones.
- Regulates estrogen and other hormones to prevents hot flashes and vaginal dryness in menopausal women.
- It’s antiviral properties combat the flu and other viruses.
- Protects against breast and colon cancer.
- Heals intestinal disorders.
- Combats acid reflux.
- Prevents inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Is Coconut Good for Weight-Loss?
Because they’re so high in fat and calories, it is important to keep your portions of coconut small if you’re trying to lose weight. Depending on your caloric needs, consuming too much coconut could go against your weight-loss efforts if doing so causes you exceed your daily recommended caloric intake.
Although coconut meat is high in fat, the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) it contains may help you shed unwanted body fat. Medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid, are converted into monolaurin, a beneficial compound that fights obesity-related diseases.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
Contrary to popular belief, coconut oil isn’t the healthiest oil. Coconut oil is high in saturated fatty acids, and saturated fat has been linked to heart disease. In fact, coconut oil is made up of about 90% saturated fat, which is even higher than butter!
Although coconut oil does have some health benefits and medicinal uses, unsaturated fats make a healthier choice. Healthier options include, avocado, sesame, olive, and canola oils.
Is Coconut Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Because coconut is packed with potassium, magnesium, calcium and a plethora of vitamins, it makes a great food option for pregnant and nursing women.
Coconut water is also recommended during pregnancy as it is also rich in nutrients. Coconut water is a good source of electrolytes, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.
Is Coconut Safe for Diabetics?
Health professionals claim coconuts have a number of advantages for people with diabetes. They’re low in sugar and high in fiber, which helps regular blood sugar.
Coconut flour is also high in fibre, which can help reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes. Coconut flour is lower in carbs than most other flours, like wheat and corn flour. For this reason, it has a gentle impact on blood glucose.
Is Coconut Flour Gluten-Free?
Coconut flour is gluten-free, making it a great substitute for wheat flour in baking. This type of flour is safe for those who diagnosed with Celiac disease or people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten.