Not only is the flavor of the coconut unique, delightful, and tropical but the health benefits of coconut may come as a surprise.
Whether you use coconut oil, enjoy raw coconut, utilize desiccated coconut, coconut flakes, or eat fresh coconut meat, you’re in for a treat when you consume this nut.
To learn more about the health benefits associated with the coconut, read on.
What Vitamins And Minerals Are Found In Raw Coconut Meat?
Believe it or not, this nut is chock full of some of the best vitamins and minerals. In fact, you’ll find all of the following vitamins and nutrients in raw coconut meat:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
And you’ll get a whopping 3.3 grams of protein for each 100 gram serving of coconut you eat which means it’s a pretty substantial source of protein as far as plant-based foods go.2
Moreover, coconut meat is rich in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Though there is a good amount of saturated fat in the coconut as well.
How Might Consuming Coconut Support Your Health?
Recent research shows that a healthy diet enriched by fresh coconut may support healthy blood sugar levels and may even help you reach your weight loss goals.3 Win, win, right?
Coconut may also prove to be quite beneficial to your cholesterol health. In fact, in a recent study, the consumption of coconut flakes actually supported higher levels of HDL cholesterol.4 HDL is high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol). LDL is low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol). So try adding desiccated coconut, flaked coconut, or coconut meat to your favorite dishes.
Which Parts Of The Coconut Should You Eat? And Which Parts Should You Avoid?
The coconut is a tough nut to crack, but coconut really can be so good for you (in moderation, of course). In fact, raw coconut meat, especially less mature coconut meat, is tasty and so nutritious. And it is pretty easy to incorporate into your favorite dishes.
But while coconut meat in any form is virtually fantastic for you, there is one part of the coconut you should steer clear of at all costs: coconut water. Why?
Well, think of coconut water as you would a fruit juice — the sugariest part of the nut. And without all of the aforementioned fiber in the meat to accompany that sugar, you’re just getting the sugar. Just one cup of coconut water yields over 6 grams of sugar.5
What Are Some Great Ways To Use Coconuts In Your Cooking?
There are many ways to use coconut in your cooking. For starters, you can simply stew coconut chunks in a delicious curry sauce. Or if you’re on the go, simply blend some young coconut meat with fresh mint leaves and a head of romaine lettuce for a yummy (and filling) smoothie.
Coconut is great for dessert too, so you can try to add it to your favorite Gundry-approved ice cream recipes. Or if you’d like to add a hint of flavor to your goats’ milk yogurt, sprinkle some unsweetened coconut flakes on top.
What About Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream, Coconut Flour, And Coconut Oil?
Coconut flour is a great addition to any kitchen, especially for those who love to bake. Coconut flour is basically dried coconut meat that has been ground. It has a deep, nutty flavor that’s also a bit sweet. Baking with coconut flour is easy and your baked goods will come out not only tasting great, but will be much healthier for you than other flours. Coconut flour is also great for baking because it seriously absorbs liquid — so your favorite baked goods won’t fall apart. And the best part about coconut flour is – it’s lectin-free.6
Coconut Cream And Milk
Coconut milk is wonderfully delicious and can be a great non dairy alternative to cow’s milk. Try using it in smoothies or lattes. Coconut cream on the other hand is much thicker and richer. It’s also higher in healthy fats and lower in sugar than coconut milk. And the consistency of coconut cream is out of this world. Coconut cream is a miracle in curries or as a replacement for the cream in your morning coffee. You can also use it to make your very own lectin-free ice cream.
Coconut oil may not be as good for you as other oils such as olive oil or mct oil, but when consumed in moderation cold-pressed virgin coconut oil (which should be solid at room temperature) can bring many health benefits and act as a great cooking oil. It’s also a truly solid substitute for butter if you’re making any baked goods, especially if you’re vegan.
Coconut oil is quickly metabolized and the lauric acid found in coconut oil is easily transported.7 In fact, studies show lauric acid in coconut oil is transported right to your liver where it is converted to energy instead of getting stored as fat.8 A great benefit for those who are trying to maintain a healthier weight.
Virgin coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (otherwise known as MCTs). And coconut oil MCTs turn into ketones. Ketones can actually be used by your brain cells for energy.9
Generally, your brain uses glucose for fuel. But if you don’t have enough usable glucose your body will actually start to transform the fats it stores into ketones that get carried to your brain until your body has enough glucose to fuel your brain again.10
So now that you know more about how coconut meat and coconut oil can help your health, the questions that remain are…
What If You Don’t Like Coconut?
Well… don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. But if you have tried coconut and you just don’t like it… then skip it. If a recipe you love calls for chunks of coconut meat, you can substitute that ingredient with either jackfruit (not in syrup) or sweet potato to match the meaty texture and sweet flavor profile.
Sweet potato flour, almond flour, and cassava flour are also great substitutes for coconut flour. But be aware: Coconut flour acts as a binder and as flour. So if your recipe calls for coconut flour, you may need to adjust ratios or add a binding agent.
When it comes to substitutes for coconut cream, a ripe avocado can give you the same creamy texture… you’ll just lose a bit of the sweet nuttiness. But there are so many ways to eat on a lectin-free diet, so never feel you have to be stuck with something.
Go Nuts For Coconuts
Again, whether you’re using desiccated coconut, dry coconut, coconut cream, or coconut flakes, you’ll enjoy enhanced texture and taste in many of your recipes. And though some of the fats in coconuts are the good-for-you fats, there is a good amount of saturated fat — so a little moderation is key.
But in the end, coconut will not only help you feel better, but it will also add great variety and depth to your favorite foods.
Hi there! Thank you so much for your question. You can find Dr. Gundry’s list of approved foods here: https://bit.ly/353B0iF. Thank you!
Hi Dr. Gundry,
I checked my organic coconut milk and coconut yoghurt and they are both extremely high in saturated fats, so I’m confused how to best balance this in my diet given I have high LDL levels.
Hello there! Please check out our lectin free diet blog for more information https://gundrymd.com/dr-gundry-diet-food-list/. Thank you!
So no milk is good for you?