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Coconut fruit benefits: 5 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Coconut

5 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Coconut

Low in carbs and high in fiber and fat, coconut is a great choice if you’re on a low carb, paleo, or gluten-free diet. It may help promote blood sugar control, contains powerful antioxidants, and also has antibacterial effects.

Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), which is commonly used for its water, milk, oil, and tasty meat.

Coconut trees are considered the most naturally widespread fruit tree on the planet and are native to Southeast Asia and the islands between the Indian and Pacific oceans (1).

Today, coconuts are cultivated around the globe and have become increasingly popular for their flavor, culinary uses, and many potential health benefits.

This article will explore five potential benefits of coconuts, along with some simple ways to add them to your diet.

The raw white meat inside a coconut is referred to as the kernel. It has a firm texture and delicious, slightly sweet flavor (2).

If you have a whole coconut, you can scrape the raw meat out of the shell and eat it. In its processed form, you’ll usually find it sliced, shaved, or grated.

Coconut milk and cream are made by pressing the raw, grated meat (3).

Dried coconut meat is usually grated or shaved and used in cooking or baking. It can be further processed and ground into flour (4).

Coconut oil is also extracted from the meat and can be used for cooking in place of other vegetable oils (5).


Coconut meat is tasty and slightly sweet, and can be enjoyed raw or dried. Many related products are produced from it, including coconut milk, cream, and oil.

Unlike many other fruits that are high in carbs, coconuts provide mostly fat (6, 7).

They also contain protein, several important minerals, and small amounts of B vitamins. However, they’re not a significant source of most other vitamins (6, 7).

The minerals in coconut are involved in many functions in your body. Coconuts are especially high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol (8).

They’re also rich in copper and iron, which help form red blood cells, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells (9, 10, 11).

Here are the nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw and unsweetened dried coconut meat (6, 7):

Protein3 grams7 grams
Carbs15 grams24 grams
Fiber9 grams16 grams
Fat33.5 grams64.5 grams
Manganese65% of the Daily Value (DV)119% of the DV
Copper48% of the DV88% of the DV
Selenium18% of the DV34% of the DV
Magnesium8% of the DV21% of the DV
Phosphorus9% of the DV17% of the DV
Iron14% of the DV18% of the DV
Potassium8% of the DV12% of the DV

Much of the fat in coconut is in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) (12).

Your body metabolizes MCTs differently than other types of fats, absorbing them directly from your small intestine and rapidly using them for energy (13, 14, 15).

One review on the benefits of MCTs in people with obesity found that these fats may promote body fat loss when eaten in place of long-chain saturated fats from animal foods (15).

However, more research is needed to evaluate whether the potential benefits associated with MCTs also apply to coconut oil (12).


Although coconut meat is high in fat, it also contains MCTs, which are metabolized differently than other types of fat. The meat also provides carbs and protein along with many essential minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, and selenium.

Though more research involving humans is needed, some studies have found that coconut oil could help block the growth of certain bacteria strains.

For instance, one test-tube study showed that virgin coconut oil was able to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that causes staph infections (16, 17).

Another study involving 50 children found that swishing with coconut oil after brushing their teeth was as effective as chlorhexidine, a common disinfectant, at reducing the growth of Streptococcus mutans (18).

What’s more, one test-tube study demonstrated that an emulsion containing coconut oil and water was effective against Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli, two strains of bacteria associated with foodborne illness (19).


Some studies in test tubes and some involving humans suggest that coconut oil could reduce the growth of several different types of bacteria.

Coconuts are low in carbs and high in fiber and fat, which may be beneficial for blood sugar control.

One review even suggested that coconut oil may help lower blood sugar levels, which may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant content (20).

Another study involving 48 people with metabolic syndrome found that replacing other fats in the diet with virgin coconut oil improved triglyceride levels and reduced fasting blood sugar after 4 weeks compared to a control group (21).

The high fiber content of coconut meat can also help slow digestion and may potentially improve insulin resistance, which can help regulate blood sugar levels as well (22).

On the other hand, one recent review concluded that adding coconut fat to meals could actually increase insulin resistance long term, which could worsen blood sugar control. Therefore, more research is needed to better understand the effect of coconut on blood sugar regulation (23).


Though more research is needed, coconut is low in carbs and rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber, which could potentially support blood sugar control.

Coconut meat contains phenolic compounds, which are antioxidants that can help protect cells from oxidative damage. The main phenolic compounds identified include (24):

  • gallic acid
  • caffeic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • p-coumaric acid

Lab tests on coconut meat have shown that it can neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals, which contribute to chronic disease (24, 25).

According to another test-tube study, certain antioxidants in coconut could even help protect against DNA damage (26).

What’s more, some test-tube and some animal studies have also shown that antioxidants found in coconut oil may help protect cells from damage and death caused by oxidative stress and chemotherapy (27, 28).


Coconuts contain polyphenol antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage, which may
aid in the prevention of chronic disease.

Flaked or shaved, coconut adds a nice flavor to savory dishes. Its meaty texture and flavor work well in curries, fish stews, rice dishes, or even on breaded shrimp.

Be aware that some brands contain added sugar, which you may not want for savory dishes, so be sure to check the ingredient label carefully.

Shredded coconut is great for baking and adds a touch of natural sweetness and moisture to cookies, muffins, and quick breads.

A sprinkle of raw coconut adds texture and a tropical flavor to oatmeal. Stirred into pudding or yogurt, it’s also a delicious calorie booster for someone who wants to gain weight.

Coconut flour is used in baking as a substitute for wheat flour. It’s gluten-free, nut-free, and a popular option for anyone who’s counting carbs.

Because it’s grain-free, the flour is also good for those on the paleo diet, which does not allow grain products like regular wheat flour.

However, coconut flour is best used in recipes that have been tested, as it won’t rise like wheat flour and absorbs more liquid than other types of flour.

Additionally, coconut oil is a delicious heat-stable fat that can be used in place of other oils for baking, sautéing, or roasting.


Coconut is versatile in the kitchen and works well in both sweet and savory foods. It’s a great choice for those on low carb, paleo, gluten-free, or nut-free diets.

Because coconuts are so high in fat, they are also high in calories.

Depending on your calorie needs and intake, they might promote weight gain if you don’t account for the extra calories elsewhere or make adjustments to your diet.

Furthermore, some research shows that coconut oil can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease (29).

While studies show that saturated fat consumption is not directly associated with a higher risk of heart disease, some health organizations, including the American Heart Association, recommend limiting your intake to less than 5–6% of total daily calories (30, 31).

Therefore, it’s best to enjoy coconut oil in moderation as part of a balanced diet, alongside a variety of other healthy fats like olive oil.

You should also be sure to address any concerns with your healthcare professional before adding coconut to your diet, especially if you have high cholesterol levels or are at risk of developing heart disease.

Additionally, some people are allergic to coconuts, though this is rare. If you have this allergy, you should avoid consuming all coconut-derived products (32).


Coconut is high in calories and contains saturated fat, which may be linked to increased cholesterol levels. Check with your healthcare professional about eating it if you have very high cholesterol or are at risk of heart disease.

Coconut is a high fat fruit that is highly nutritious and has been associated with a wide range of health benefits.

In particular, coconut is rich in antioxidants, has powerful antibacterial properties, and may support better blood sugar control.

However, coconut is very high in fat and calories, so be sure to moderate your intake if you are trying to lose weight or need to follow a low fat diet.

Still, coconut meat is delicious, nutritious, and easy to incorporate into both sweet and savory dishes.

Just one thing

Try this today: Coconut chips are a simple snack that’s delicious and easy to make at home. Simply spread unsweetened coconut flakes on a baking sheet, toast for 3–5 minutes at 350°F (177°C), and enjoy!

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Is It Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on March 14, 2023

In this Article

  • Nutrition Information
  • Potential Health Benefits of Coconut
  • Potential Risks of Coconut
  • Healthy Alternatives

from the WebMD Ingredients Guide

Serving Size 1 Piece (45 g)

Calories 159

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 15 g


Saturated Fat 13 g


Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg


Sodium 9 mg


Potassium 0 mg


Total Carbohydrate 7 g


Dietary Fiber 4 g


Sugar 3 g

Protein 1 g


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  • Vitamin C 1%
  • Iron 6%
  • Vitamin B6 0%
  • Magnesium 0%
  • Calcium 0%
  • Vitamin D 0%
  • Cobalamin 0%
  • Vitamin A 0%

You might wonder, is a coconut truly a nut? The reality is, a coconut may be classified as a nut, a fruit, or a seed, depending on the criteria you use. In the culinary world, coconuts are generally viewed as fruits. They are known for adding a sweet, nutty — perhaps even tropical — flavor to dishes.

Coconuts grow on palm trees with the scientific name Cocos Nucifera. They likely originated in India and Southeast Asia. Today, coconuts grow in warm climates across the globe, such as the Caribbean and parts of Africa and South America.

Coconut meat is the edible white flesh lining the inside of a coconut, also called the “kernel.” Coconut meat can be used to create coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut milk, and dried coconut. Of course, you can eat it fresh, too.

Research suggests that coconut meat provides nutritious fats and various other potential health benefits.

Coconut is generally regarded as a source of healthy fat. The meat contains protein and fiber, as well as some essential minerals such as:

  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Magnesium

Two tablespoons of fresh, shredded coconut contain the following nutrients:

  • 35 calories
  • Less than 1 gram of protein
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1 gram of fiber
  • 1 gram of sugar

Historically, people have used coconut as part of traditional medicine. The meat is said to, among other things:

  • Counteract some poisons
  • Protect against disease
  • Ease inflammation
  • Kill bacteria

Researchers have studied some, but not all, of the potential health benefits of coconut. It could:

Improve your endurance. Coconut meat contains large amounts of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), a type of saturated fat that is much easier for the human body to digest than animal fats. These fats, also called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), have been demonstrated to boost the endurance of trained athletes.

Give you better oral health. The MCFAs found in coconut meat also contain antimicrobial properties. These can be useful in preventing infections related to root canals and other teeth issues. Although eating coconut meat is not a substitute for proper dental hygiene, it can help kill some of the unwanted bacteria found in your mouth and protect your gums and teeth from infection or cavities.

Help you lose weight. Regularly eating coconut meat might help with weight loss. The MCFAs widely found in coconut meat are associated with fat burning.

Although coconut meat provides highly valuable nutrients, the food contains moderate amounts of saturated fats, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation.

If you’re looking to avoid or cut back on saturated fats, rather than using coconut meat as a snack, choose something that’s high in healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, or avocados.

Coconut – useful properties and calorie content, use and preparation, benefits and harms

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Scientists claim that the coconut palm is one of the most ancient plants on Earth that have survived to this day. The height of the tree reaches 25 meters, the leaves are up to 4 meters long, pinnate, similar to a fan.

Coconuts are not nuts at all, but, strictly speaking, dry coconut palm pits. Inside they contain pulp and milk (or juice). An unripe (less than 5 months old) nut contains about half a liter of a clear sweet and sour liquid – it is called coconut milk. When the nut ripens, this liquid thickens and turns into a white elastic pulp. The flesh of a coconut is called copra. The diameter of coke nuts reaches 30 cm, and the weight is 2–4 kg.


The coconut palm is native to coastal and tropical Southeast Asia. Cultivated, coconut grows in India, Polynesia, the Caribbean, Hawaii, South Florida and Southern California. Coconut is a plant of the sea coasts.

123rf.comSource: 123rf.com


Coconuts contain vitamins B1, B2, B5, C, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, trace elements (calcium, potassium, phosphorus) and fiber.

Coconut oil contains a lot of lauric acid, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels.


“Tree of a Thousand Uses” is the tropical name for the coconut tree.

Coconut is very tasty and healthy. The whole nut is used in cooking: coconut water is used as a refreshing and tonic drink, alcoholic drinks are prepared on its basis; coconut pulp is added to sweets, breaded fish and meat, as well as in salads, soups, pies and many other dishes.

In addition, all parts of the coconut are used in medicine. Coconut restores strength, strengthens the immune system, improves eyesight, has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Coconut water can replace saline and has antipyretic properties. It is recommended to use it for urolithiasis and diabetes mellitus.

Coconut milk, obtained by squeezing the crushed pulp, is more fatty than coconut water and, according to Eastern doctors, stimulates the cardiovascular system.

Oil is another useful product of coconut. It is most commonly used in cosmetics as a skin care product. Coconut oil smoothes wrinkles and makes the skin radiant. Massage tiles for the body based on coconut oil – without exaggeration, “heavenly delight”.

In addition, coconut oil helps with calcium absorption, so it is recommended to use it to strengthen teeth and bones and to prevent osteoporosis. Coconut oil does not contain cholesterol. It is quickly absorbed and reduces the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis.

Coconut, in addition to coconut milk and edible pulp, provides another useful product. This is the so-called coir or coir – fibers containing lignin. Ropes, mats, fishing nets are made from long (15–33 cm) fibers. Short waste is also a strong and durable material. They fill coconut mattresses.

Calorie content and nutritional value of coconut

Calorie content of coconut – 354 kcal, dried (in flakes) – 592 kcal.

Nutritional value of coconut: protein – 3. 33 g, fat – 33.49g, carbohydrates – 6.23 g

Nutritional value dried coconut meat : proteins – 5.3 g, fats – 47 g, carbohydrates – 44.4 g

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benefits and harms to the body of men, women and children

The history of coconut

Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm, which can live up to 100 years and produce more than four hundred nuts a year. The fruit by weight sometimes reaches 2.5 kilograms, and is covered with a hard shell. Inside is white copra pulp and coconut water.

The name of the nut is translated from Portuguese as “monkey”. Ripe peeled brown fruit with three dents, which resembles the muzzle of a monkey. Some coconut gatherers train tame monkeys to climb palm trees and drop the fruits down.

Coconut trees are mentioned as early as the 4th century BC. For the first time, this plant was specially cultivated in Malaysia. The inhabitants of the Pacific coast highly value palm trees, the wood is used for construction and heating, and the fruits are constantly present in the diet. In honor of the newborn, many plant a new palm tree.

Coconut trees grow on sandy shores. The fruits often fall into the water and thus spread to other islands. The peel of the nut is very strong and is not damaged by sea water. Now coconuts grow in all tropical countries.

Composition and calories of coconut

Calories per 100 grams 354 kcal
Proteins 3.4 g
Fats 33.5 g
Carbohydrates 6, 2 g

Benefits of Coconut

Coconut is known primarily for its high content of various fatty acids. It is the flesh of the coconut that is rich in oils, and the liquid inside the fruit contains a lot of antioxidants and minerals. It is thanks to them that coconut water quenches thirst so well.

Coconut flesh is very nutritious, restores strength and eliminates muscle fatigue. Panthenic and folic acids and B vitamins are important in metabolic processes and for the functioning of the immune and nervous systems.

Coconut contains a lot of potassium, magnesium and iodine. They support the heart and blood vessels, and iodine is necessary for the endocrine glands.

Coconut meat is rich in fiber and fatty acids, which are good for intestinal flora. A small amount of this product relieves inflammation in stomach ulcers and intestinal colitis.

Vitamin E is considered the “beauty vitamin” and is good for the skin. Coconut oil nourishes and refreshes the skin, slowing down the aging process, and fights minor inflammation. Lauric acid inhibits pathogenic microorganisms. Coconut oil also improves the condition of hair and nails.

Harm of coconut

Coconut is very high in calories, therefore it is contraindicated for obese people. Due to the high glycemic index in diabetes, coconut is best eaten only with the permission of a doctor.

– Coconut contains a lot of fiber and is a natural laxative. In people prone to diarrhea, coconut, especially fresh, can cause an exacerbation. Also, it is better not to give such heavy food to children under 2 years old. Coconut allergy sufferers have an increased risk of allergic reactions, – dietitian-consultant Dilara Akhmetova warns .

Use of coconut in medicine

Coconut is recommended for all people who play sports or hard physical work. To maintain strength, the pulp of the nut will not interfere with pregnant and lactating mothers.

Due to its high fiber content, coconut enhances intestinal motility and fights constipation. Oils coat inflamed mucous membranes and accelerate their healing, so coconut oil is recommended for stomach ulcers, gastritis, colitis.

Coconut oil is widely used in massage and cosmetics. Lauric, oleic and caprylic acids are good for the skin. They maintain water balance, activate metabolic processes and have healing properties. The skin is saturated with nutrients and becomes more hydrated. But oily skin is at high risk of clogged pores, so the oil is more suitable for dry skin. Coconut oil can also be used for hair and nails. Soaps, creams and balms are made on its basis.

Vitamin E in the pulp strengthens the walls of blood vessels, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and generally improves the condition of the heart and blood vessels. You can eat no more than 100-200 grams of fresh coconut per day, and be sure to monitor the calorie content.

Uses of coconut in cooking

Coconut flesh is most often used in cooking, in dried form it can be found in the confectionery departments in the form of shavings. In Asian cuisine, coconut water and milk are even more popular – they are added to soups, fish and cereal dishes.

The taste of the pulp itself and the coconut water depends on the maturity of the nut. The youngest ones do not yet have pulp as such, the fruit is almost completely filled with sweet and sour water. Gradually, the liquid thickens and becomes like jelly. There is little water in mature nuts, most of it hardens at the walls in the form of white coconut pulp. It is used in its pure form in salads, desserts and even soups.

Coconut oil is obtained from the pressed pulp. It can be eaten like regular butter and has a sweet coconut flavor. On the basis of oil, fillings are made in confectionery products, creams. Natural coconut oil thickens already at +24 degrees. To melt it, just hold it for a short time in a water bath or heat it in a pan.

When grated pulp is soaked in water, the liquid becomes coconut milk. It is often added to soups, such as the famous tom yum.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk. Photo: pixabay.com

You can make your own natural coconut milk. It is drunk in its pure form, added to many desserts. It is indispensable in Asian cuisine. After squeezing the pulp, coconut flakes remain, which can be used in the next recipe.

Coconut flesh cup
Water 1-2 cups

and from dry shavings. Although it will be much less rich and tasty.

Remove the outer dark skin from the pulp, then grate or chop with a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and pour boiling water so that it only slightly covers the pulp. Leave for half an hour, then recline on a gauze napkin and squeeze the milk over a bowl. You need to squeeze it almost dry.

Milk is stored in the refrigerator for no more than a day, where it gradually thickens and separates into two layers. “Coconut cream” is the fattier part of the milk. They can be used alone or mixed with milk.

Coconut milk completely replaces the usual cow’s milk in all recipes: with coffee, when kneading dough, stewing meat. It gives all dishes an interesting nutty flavor.

The resulting chips can be dried in an oven at 80 degrees, stirring occasionally. Transfer to airtight jars after cooling.

Coconut biscuits

Coconut biscuits. Photo: pixabay.com

Very simple and fragrant biscuits are prepared without any flour. Inside each ball you can put any filling – nuts, dried fruits. These ingredients will make about 18 pieces

Coconut flakes 200 g
Sugar 100 g
Eggs 2 pcs.
Salt to taste

Beat the eggs with a whisk or a blender together with sugar until white. Add salt, coconut flakes and mix. The dough is ready, then we sculpt cookies in the form of balls the size of a walnut.

It is best to bake on a wire rack lined with parchment paper. The baking sheet is very hot and the bottom of the cookies may burn. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, put the cookies for 10 minutes. After the time has elapsed, cover them with a layer of parchment on top, return to the oven and bake for another 12 minutes. Serve after cooling.

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How to choose and store coconut

Coconuts are sold in two states: green and overripe brown. The freshest, “straight from the tree” are green coconuts, they are delivered as quickly as possible and harvested while still young. But they are more difficult to clean, and they cost significantly more.

You can choose a good brown coconut – it is already peeled and you can see the fibers on it. Pay attention to the appearance – at the slightest damage, the nut quickly deteriorates, so the coconut should be free of cracks and punctures.

Shake the nut – you can hear the liquid sloshing in the ripe fruit. By weight, the coconut should be heavy. The shell should be dense, not squeezed through and sag when pressed with a finger. The lighter it is, the better.

After buying a coconut, it is better not to store it for a long time, but to open it and eat it. To do this, turn the nut with three “eyes” towards you. Insert a thin knife or screwdriver into the central one, making a hole. Turn the nut over and drain the coconut water.

Next, you need to remove the shell. You can simply break it with a hammer or forcefully throw a nut on the floor.