Naturopathic Kitchen: Coconut

Fresh coconut on a wooden surface

Coconut is the fruit of coconut palm trees (Cocos nucifera), which are native to tropical islands in the western Pacific. Coconut is known for its sweet taste and versatility. There are a number of different ways to consume coconut, including through its milk, oil, and eating the fruit raw or dried. In addition to all this, coconut comes with a host of health benefits! Here are our top reasons to add more coconut to your diet.

The Health Benefits of Coconut

High in Minerals

Coconut contains a variety of minerals, including manganese, selenium, copper, and iron. 1

Coconut is particularly high in manganese, a mineral that is crucial for the metabolism of carbohydrates, cholesterol, and proteins. Manganese is also essential to bone health. 2

Iron and copper both help form red blood cells in the body, and selenium protects cells in the body. 3 4 5

May Improve Heart Health

Coconut may help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Multiple studies have shown that consuming coconut oil or coconut milk can result in decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels. 6 7 8 If you are looking to follow a heart-healthy diet, swap some of your usual oils and milks with coconut oil and coconut milk.

High in Fiber

Coconut is also beneficial to digestive health because it is high in fiber. One cup of shredded coconut meat contains seven grams of fiber, which is 20% of the recommended daily value. 9 10 The majority of the fiber found in coconut is insoluble fiber, which helps regulate healthy bowel movements and prevent constipation. 11 12

Ways to Eat Coconut

Note: Choose raw or unsweetened coconut products for the highest nutritional value.

Coconut Milk

  • Try adding coconut milk to your favorite curries
  • Mix coconut milk into soups and stews for a creamier texture
  • Use it in place of dairy milk in sweet recipes such as pancakes, waffles, and baking
  • Cook rice in coconut milk to give it a flavor boost and a richer texture

Fresh Coconut Meat

  • Eat chunks of fresh coconut meat as a snack
  • Blend it into smoothies
  • Shred it and use it as a topping for fruit salads, yogurt, or granola

Coconut Oil

There are two main types of coconut oil: Refined and unrefined. Refined coconut oil has the highest smoke point and a very mild flavor. Unrefined coconut oil is less processed and has a stronger flavor and a lower smoke point. Choose the type that is best suited to your needs and try using it the following ways:

  • Use it for cooking in place of other oils
  • Blend a tablespoon of coconut oil into your morning smoothie
  • Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to yogurt and mix well before eating

Dried Coconut

  • Add dried coconut to your favorite baking recipes, such as cookies or brownies
  • Use it as a topping for smoothie bowls, yogurt, granola, chia pudding, or fruit salad
  • Mix it into your favorite trail mix for a healthy snack

 

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