Coconuts are the large seeds or fruits of coconut palms (Cocos nucifera). Coconut meat is the sweet, white flesh inside a coconut that is rich in nutrients and can be eaten fresh or dried. Coconut meat’s benefits are a result of its rich phenolic compounds, vitamins, and minerals that help treat many ailments. Eating coconut meat regularly can improve heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, help with weight loss, and promote digestion. This article explores the nutrition profile of coconut meat, its health benefits and possible side effects, and some delicious recipes. Keep reading!
Coconut Meat Nutrition Facts
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup (80 g) of shredded coconut meat contains (1):
- Calories: 283
- Protein: 2.66 g
- Fat: 26.8 g
- Carbohydrate: 12.2 g
- Fiber: 7.2 g
- Sugar: 4.98 g
- Calcium: 11.2 mg
- Iron: 1.94 mg
- Phosphorus: 90.4 mg
- Potassium: 285 mg
- Sodium: 16 mg
- Vitamin C: 2.64 mg
- Niacin: 0.432 mg
- Thiamin: 0.053 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.043 mg
- Folate: 20.8 µg
Coconut meat is also rich in fiber and phenolic compounds, making it a very healthy food item (1). Scroll down to learn about its health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Coconut Meat
1. Improves Heart Health
Extra virgin coconut oil, derived from fresh coconut meat, milk, or residue, has beneficial effects on your heart health. A study conducted by Chiang Mai University, Thailand, found that consuming 15 ml extra virgin coconut oil twice daily for eight weeks increases HDL cholesterol levels (2). A review published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism suggests that intake of coconut milk porridge can help decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol (3).
In addition, the fiber in coconut meat can help reduce serum cholesterol levels (4). However, more studies are needed to understand this benefit of coconut meat.
2. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
A study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that the daily consumption of 100 g of fresh coconut helped reduce blood glucose levels in 80 healthy people, thereby preventing type-2 diabetes (5).
In addition, a review published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology suggests that virgin coconut oil can help prevent the development of insulin resistance and hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood) in animals (6). The phenolic compounds and anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil help regulate blood sugar levels (7).
3. Aids Weight Loss
Raw coconut meat, coconut oil, and desiccated coconut contain a high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) (8). These MCTs have a positive effect on weight loss and body composition (9). Also, a study conducted by McGill University (Canada) found that foods rich in medium-chain triglycerides can diminish fat storage through the oxidation process (10).
4. Promotes Digestion
Coconut meat is rich in dietary fiber (4). Intake of foods that are rich in dietary fiber helps improve digestion and increases stool frequency in people with constipation (11). However, more studies are needed to understand this benefit of coconut meat.
5. May Improve Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Intake of dietary coconut can help prevent and treat neurodegenerative problems. The phenolic compounds and hormones available in coconut may help in the prevention and management of Alzheimer’s disease (12).
In addition, the oil derived from coconut meat may help slow down age-related cognitive decline (13).
Vasundhara Agrawal, a nutritionist, says, “Manganese and antioxidants in coconut may help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. This fruit’s MCTs may also have antiviral, antifungal, and tumor-suppressing properties.”
Are there any risks associated with the overconsumption of coconut meat? Scroll down to find out!
Potential Downsides Of Coconut Meat
Consuming coconut meat in moderation is considered safe. But its excess consumption may lead to several side effects. Coconut meat contains saturated fats, and its high consumption may increase the risk of heart diseases. The intake of foods rich in saturated fats is associated with increased coronary heart diseases (14).
Coconut meat is also rich in calories, so its high intake may lead to weight gain.
Coconut meat allergies are rare, but some people may experience severe allergic reactions (15). Hence, limit your consumption and consult your doctor in case of any adverse reaction.
Eating how much coconut meat is too much? And is there any recommended dosage? Let us check out the next section.
How Much Coconut Meat Should You Eat?
There are no recorded recommended dosage values for coconut meat. But you can eat about 100 g of coconut meat per day to reap its maximum benefits.
Coconut meat can be purchased in many forms, including frozen, shredded, or dried. It is a versatile food that many people can easily add to their diet. Learn how to use coconut meat in your diet in the following section.
How To Use Coconut Meat
Some ways to use coconut meat include:
- Mix coconut meat into dips and spreads.
- Add it to your favorite fruit salad, mixed greens, yogurt, or oatmeal for a tropical twist.
- Blending it into smoothies, dips, and sauces.
- Use it to coat meat, fish, poultry, or tofu before baking.
- Stir fresh chunks of coconut into stir-fries, stews, or cooked grains.
- Add it to porridge or overnight oats.
You can prepare some easy and delicious recipes with coconut meat. Check out the next section for three simple recipes you can try at home.
Coconut Meat Recipes
1. Vegan And Gluten-Free Coconut Meat Ceviche
What You Need
- Cherry tomatoes – 2 cups
- Coconut meat – 2 cups
- Minced red onion – ¾ cup
- Chopped cilantro – ½ cup
- Chopped cucumber – ¾ cup
- Spicy tomato sauce – ¼ cup
- Finely minced garlic cloves – 2-3
- Diced avocado – 1
- Juiced lemon -1
- Juiced lime – 1
- Tajin seasoning – 1 tablespoon
- Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
- Ground cumin – 1 teaspoon
- Salt and pepper – to taste
- Combine all the ingredients, except the lime juice and avocado, in a bowl.
- Gently toss them together to ensure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Cover and let the ceviche marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. It gets better the longer you wait.
- When you are ready to serve the ceviche, add the avocado and lime juice, and toss everything together again.
- Add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve the dish cold.
2. Coconut Meat Curry
What You Need
- Mutton – ½ kg
- Water – 3 cups
- Vegetable oil – 2 tbsps
- Potatoes – 2
- Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
- Lime juice – 1 teaspoon
- Curry leaves – 1 sprig
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Coriander – ¾ dessert spoon
- Red chilies – 4
- Finely grated coconut – ½ cup
- Cumin – ½ teaspoon
- Wash and cut the meat into 1.5 cm cubes.
- Peel and dice the potatoes.
- Fry the coconut and all the spices, except turmeric, in one tablespoon of oil until the coconut is dry but does not change color. Grind the fried mixture to a fine paste.
- Heat the remaining oil and fry the spice paste and turmeric powder.
- Add the meat and fry till they turn crisp. Add water and salt, and cook on a slow fire for 30-35 minutes.
- Add the diced potatoes, mix well, and cook until both the meat and the potatoes are tender.
- Add the curry leaves and lime juice. Mix well and serve.
3. Creamy Coconut Rice Pudding
What You Need
- Freshly grated coconut meat – ½ cup
- Arborio rice – 1 cup
- Coconut milk – 13.5 oz.
- Sugar – 1/3 cup
- Vanilla bean paste – 1 teaspoon
- Coconut extract – 1 teaspoon
- Dark rum – 1 tablespoon
- Heavy cream – ½ cup
- A couple of recycled vanilla beans
- Cook the rice in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes.
- Drain and return the rice to the pan and add the coconut milk, vanilla bean pods, sugar, coconut meat, rum, vanilla paste, and coconut extract.
- Bring the rice to a simmer and cook on low for about 15 to 20 minutes, constantly stirring, until the mixture turns thick and the rice is tender.
- Stir in the heavy cream, remove the vanilla pods, and ladle the pudding into serving dishes.
- Top with toasted coconut and enjoy hot, or refrigerate until chilled.
The Bottom Line
Coconut meat is the sweet white flesh that is loaded with nutrients. The rich phenolic compounds and fiber in it help improve heart health, aid in weight loss, and promote digestion. However, excess consumption of coconut meat may cause some side effects due to its high calorific value and saturated fats. Hence, limit its intake and enjoy its benefits. It can be eaten fresh and dried and used as a snack or as an ingredient in many culinary applications.
- Coconut meat is the white flesh inside the coconut that can be eaten fresh or dried.
- It has been found to improve digestive and cardiovascular health, promote weight loss, and regulate blood sugar levels.
- You can add coconut meat to a savory curry or make a sweet rice pudding with it.
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- Nuts coconut meat raw
- Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial
- Impact of a Traditional Dietary Supplement with Coconut Milk and Soya Milk on the Lipid Profile in Normal Free Living Subjects
- Novel trends in development of dietary fiber rich meat products—a critical review
- Diet enriched with fresh coconut decreases blood glucose levels and body weight in normal adults
- Virgin coconut oil maintains redox status and improves glycemic conditions in high fructose fed rats
- The Glucose-Lowering Effects of Coconut Oil: A Case Report and Review of the Literature
- Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism
- Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue
- Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis
- The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action
- Enhanced memory in Wistar rats by virgin coconut oil is associated with increased antioxidative cholinergic activities and reduced oxidative stress
- Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies
- Coconut Allergy Revisited