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5 Health Benefits of Coconut
Coconut is a sweet fruit that provides numerous health benefits. It’s commonly found in grocery stores in the form of water, milk, and oil.
Coconuts are fruits that grow on the coconut tree, which resembles a palm tree in appearance. Coconut trees are native to Southeast Asia and the islands between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Coconut trees usually grow in tropical climates and can be found in many areas of the world today.1
Coconuts are used in many different food and drink recipes, and they also provide many health benefits. Here are 5 health benefits of coconut.
Coconuts provide essential nutrients
One cup of fresh coconut contains 52% of your recommended daily value of manganese. Manganese helps the function of enzymes in the body, as well as reduces oxidative stress from free radicals in the body. Selenium, which is also found in coconut, works as an antioxidant to protect your cells against free radicals.3
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause illnesses and conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune system disorders.
Iron and copper, both of which are found in coconuts, help your body form red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.4
Coconuts are hydrating
Coconut water contains potassium, sodium, and magnesium, all of which are significant electrolytes. Electrolytes help hydrate your body by regulating the balance of fluids in the body. They also regulate blood pressure and muscle contraction.6
If you’re looking for a drink to replenish your electrolytes after a workout, coconut water is a great alternative to sports drinks. Many sports drinks typically add sugars that can negate the health benefits they’re meant to provide.
Coconuts are heart-healthy
The oil that comes from coconuts is heart-healthy and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
One study found that when coconut oil was consumed for 8 weeks, there was a significant improvement in HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, absorbs LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, and carries it back to the liver. Managing cholesterol levels prevents buildup in the arteries and promotes healthy blood flow.7
Another reason why coconuts are good for your heart is they contain potassium, which helps to regulate your heartbeat by controlling electrical signals in the myocardium, the middle layer of heart muscle. Potassium supports heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of stroke.8
Coconuts help maintain blood sugar
Coconuts are low in carbohydrates, but high in fat and fiber. This can be beneficial for your blood sugar levels and for those with diabetes.
The high fiber content in coconuts may also work to slow digestion and improve insulin resistance, which can help to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.
Coconuts can enhance your immunity
Coconuts are naturally antibacterial and antiviral, which means they can help protect your immune system. A strong immune system is significant to help you fight off illnesses and disease.10
The specific ingredients found in coconuts, lauric acid and caprylic acid, are known for fighting bacterial infections. Lauric acid also helps fight off a variety of viruses. Some of the viruses that coconut oil has been found to help prevent include influenza, herpes, and HIV.11
There are many different coconut products, from water to milk, that you can extract from a coconut. There are also many food and beauty products that use coconut milk or water in them. The products you get from a coconut are processed in different ways.
- Coconut water – the simplest product you can get from coconuts is its water. Coconut water is found when you cut open an immature coconut. The water is rich in electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium.12
- Coconut milk and cream – coconut milk and coconut cream are produced with ingredients found inside the coconut. The raw, white meat found when you cut open a coconut is called the kernel. The kernel is firm and sweet, and you can scrape it off the insides of the coconut. The raw meat can be pressed to make coconut milk or cream.
- Coconut oil – coconut oil is commonly used for cooking, and is often used in many skin and hair products. To make coconut oil, raw meat is pressed to extract the oil in a similar way to how coconut milk and cream are made.
- Coconut flour – coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat that is ground into flour.
- Shaved coconut – whenever you’ve had a coconut dessert or coconut cake, the coconut flavor is typically made with shaved coconut. Coconut shavings are made by scraping the raw meat from the inside of the coconut and drying it to create the coconut shavings.
Ways to Enjoy Coconut
- Add coconut shavings to your yogurt or cereal
- Puree coconut to add to your juice or smoothies
- Add coconut shavings, or cook with coconut oil, when making seafood dishes
- Use coconut milk when making hot chocolate
- Replace vegetable oils with coconut oil when cooking or baking
- Make homemade protein bars with coconut oil
- Make homemade granola with coconut flakes
- Bake a dessert with coconut shavings
- Make a curry with coconut milk
- Make a soup with coconut milk
Try Coconut Today
If you’re interested in any of the health benefits of coconut, or the delicious recipes, try coconut today!
Here at Saber Healthcare, we prioritize our residents and offer services to help them meet their nutritional goals. Our dietary teams work hard to develop and create menus that are not only delicious, but also meet residents’ daily needs.
Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Cocos nucifera (L.) (Arecaceae): A phytochemical and pharmacological review.” National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4671521/.
- Migala, Jessica. “What Is Coconut? How to Enjoy the Fruit-Nut-Seed and What It Offers Your Health.” Everyday Health, everydayhealth.com. June 23rd, 2022. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/coconut-nutrition-facts-health-benefits-beauty-benefits-recipes/.
- Ames, Hana. “Coconut meat: Nutrition, benefits, risks, and uses.” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. June 29th, 2021. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/coconut-meat.
- Danahy, Anne. “5 Impressive Benefits of Coconut.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. April 12th, 2022. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-nutrition.
- “The Health Benefits of Coconut Water.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. September 10th, 2021. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-health-benefits-of-coconut-water/.
- “Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not?” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. April 12th, 2019. Accessed September 1st, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/electrolyte-drinks-beneficial-or-not/.
- “Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial.” National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745680/.
- Sassos, Stefani. “8 Health Benefits of Coconut Water, According to Registered Dietitians.” Hearst Digital Media, goodhousekeeping.com. June 9th, 2022. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a33606419/coconut-water-health-benefits/.
- “Effects of virgin coconut oil consumption on metabolic syndrome components and asymmetric dimethylarginine: A randomized controlled clinical trial.” National Library of Medicine, pubmed.gov. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33549429/.
- “From weight loss to amazing hair: This is what eating raw coconut can do for you.” Health Shots, healthshots.com. August 12th, 2020. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.healthshots.com/healthy-eating/superfoods/benefits-of-coconut-here-are-5-reasons-to-eat-raw-coconut/.
- McClees, Heather. “How to Use Coconut Oil to Boost Your Immunity.” One Green Planet, onegreenplanet.org. Accessed September 1st, 2022. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/how-to-use-coconut-oil-to-boost-your-immunity/#:~:text=Coconut%20contains%20two%20special%20ingredients,)%2C%20along%20with%20bacterial%20infections.
- “Coconut Water – Uses, Side Effects, and More.” WebMD, webmd.com. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1261/coconut-water.
- “Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Coconuts.” Produce for Better Health Foundation, fruitsandveggies.org. Accessed August 31st, 2022. https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-coconuts/#:~:text=Combine%20citrus%20fruits%20such%20as,creamy%20fruit%20with%20a%20spoon!&text=ice%20cream%20or%20sherbet%E2%80%94Yummy!.