Is Coconut Meat Good For You?

Coconut

Many people have used coconut oil as a healthy source of fat, but surprisingly, many may have not tried coconut meat. What is coconut meat? Coconut meat is the flesh of the tropical coconut fruit—also called the cocos nucifera palm.

Coconut meat nutrition is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Coconut meat health benefits are seemingly endless, and people living up north should certainly consider coconut meat in your diet. Let me explain…

Coconuts grow on coconut palm trees from the family Palmaceae, which will thrive in tropical climates.

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In fact, coconuts are a large part of the diet for many living in tropical regions, and it is a very versatile and indispensable food for millions living in the Pacific Islands, and South and Southeast Asia.

And yet, many living in colder regions may have never eaten raw coconut meat. Coconut meat is considered juicy and tender, tough and fibrous, or slightly thick and crunchy, depending on how long the kernel has been stored.

Nutrition Facts of Coconut Meat

Is coconut meat good for you? You bet it is. The coconut meat benefits are pretty great. First off, coconut meat is extremely nutritious and is sold in grocery stores with the shell removed. It can be eaten plain, shredded onto salads, added to smoothies, or sprinkled onto baked goods.

Coconut Meat Nutrition

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Coconut Meat Nutrition Table

Coconut Meat Calories & Fats

How about coconut meat calories? Well, one cup of coconut meat contains 282 calories, with most of it coming from 26.8 g of fat. That said, it contains the healthy saturated fats called medium-chain fatty acids.

Coconut contains the important saturated fatty acids, including lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid. From these three, the monoglyceride of lauric acid called monolaurin has the most antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.

Coconut meat is also a very good source of fiber, and contains 7.2 g per cup. Coconut meat is also an excellent of minerals, especially manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and potassium. It also contains calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. As far as vitamins, coconut meat also contains choline, folate, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, and vitamin B5.

The following is a coconut meat nutrition chart that contains credible information for cup of shredded coconut.

Is Coconut Meat Good for You? Know it’s 8 Health Benefits

What are the benefits of eating coconut meat? There are many coconut meat benefits that should make this tropical fruit a top priority on your shopping list at the grocery store. The following are eight key coconut meat benefits you should keep in mind.

1. Helps Eliminate Parasites from the Body:

The fiber in coconut meat has therapeutic properties for treating parasite infestation. It can help expel and kill giardia, ringworms, tapeworms, and other parasites.

In a study published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India in 1985, researchers from India found that coconut meat was a more effective vermifuge, or parasite treatment, than most medications on the market, except for niclosamide. Coconut meat is considered non-toxic, while niclosamide side effects include constipation, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and itchiness.

2. Regulates Bowel Activity:

The high-fiber content in raw coconut meat acts like a prebiotic. As a result, the coconut feeds the good bacteria in the intestines and also keeps you regular. A diet high in processed foods and low in non-digestible fiber leads to hard-to-pass stools.

The fiber in coconut will, therefore, help improve digestion and the absorption of key nutrients. It will also relieve digestive symptoms related to ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, and Crohn’s disease.

3. Can Balance Blood Sugar Levels:

Coconut meat is considered low on the glycemic index, and the insoluble fiber in the meat helps slow the rate where carbs get turned into sugars in the body. As a result, your insulin and blood sugar levels are kept in check.

4. Destroys Candida and Other Harmful Organisms:

Coconut meat will kill fungi and yeast that causes candidiasis, thrush, athlete’s foot, and other infections. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut meat have the ability to destroy candida and other pathogenic microorganisms.

5. Supports the Immune System:

The saturated fats in coconut meat help support a healthy immune system. Coconut meat also contains anti-bacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties that help increase immunity.

6. Great for Bone Health:

Everyone knows calcium is for strong bones; however, saturated fat is actually necessary to help transport calcium to the bones. Some studies suggest that saturated fat is harmful for bones.

But coconut meat contains saturated fat in the form of healthy medium-chain fatty acids, which benefit the bones instead of harm them.

7. Good Weight Loss Aid:

At just 283 calories per cup, coconut meat is low in calories, yet high in fiber. The fiber in coconut meat allows people to feel fuller for longer. The fiber is also vital for digestion, which makes coconut meat a good food to have on hand for any weight loss journey.

8. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease:

High cholesterol levels in the blood is one of many risk factors associated with heart disease. The saturated fat in coconut meat is thought to reduce the bad cholesterol, or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and increase the good cholesterol, or the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

3 Coconut Meat Recipes

When shopping for coconut meat, it is best to select organic, unopened, young coconut. How do you make the most of coconut meat? There are several recipes using fresh coconut that are not only nutritious, but are also delicious.

Here are three tasty coconut-related dishes using shredded coconut meat, courtesy of Making Healthy Choices.

1. Coconut Butter:

coconut-butterStore-bought coconut butter is pretty expensive. Luckily, you can make your own at the fraction of the cost, especially when you buy shredded coconut in bulk. Coconut butter is then perfect for making desserts, or adding to a smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 cup of unsweetened medium shredded coconut

Directions:

  • In a heavy-duty food processor, process the coconut until it is liquid and smooth. It will take about five to eight minutes.
  • Leftover coconut butter can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about a month.

2. Coconut Bacon:

Instead of shredded coconut, this recipe calls for unsweetened large-flake coconut. The following recipe is great as a snack or adding to salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, or other roasted root vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened large-flake coconut (not shredded coconut)
  • 1 1/2 tsps. of coconut aminos of low-sodium tamari
  • 1/2 tsp. of pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. of fine sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. of liquid smoke (optional)

Directions:

  • In a bowl, stir together the large-flake coconut, maple syrup, salt, coconut aminos, paprika, cayenne, and liquid smoke if using it.
  • Scoop the coconut mixture into a large skillet, and toast the coconut over medium heat, and stir frequently for five to 10 minutes. The smoked aroma is quite powerful, so you may want to turn on the range fan and open a window during cooking.
  • Immediately remove the coconut from the pain, and place it on a parchment paper-lined plate so it doesn’t stick to the skillet as it dries.

3. Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream:

Coconut Vanilla Ice CreamCoconut ice cream is delicious, but it is fairly expensive at the health food store. Instead you can use young coconut meat to make coconut vanilla ice cream right at home. Try the following coconut ice cream recipe for yourself:

Ingredients:

  • Coconut meat from one to two young fresh coconuts
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. of raw honey or a sweetener of your choice
  • 1 tsp. of raw vanilla powder
  • A pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  • Right after scooping the meat from the young coconut, place it in a container in the freezer until it is frozen.
  • Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender, and blend until it is smooth and creamy. Serve it immediately, and garnish with some cinnamon and fresh berries.

In summary, coconut meat is the flesh of the tropical coconut fruit—also called the cocos nucifera palm. The nutrient-dense fruit is packed with fiber, healthy medium-chain fatty acids, manganese, selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and magnesium.

Coconut meat can be juicy and tender, and can be added to various dishes like salads and smoothies. Other tasty coconut meat dishes can include coconut butter, coconut bacon, and coconut ice cream.


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Sources:
Thompson, L., “Nuts, coconut meat, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories,” SELFNutritionData, last accessed Jan. 23, 2017; http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3106/2.