The product of the coconut palm tree, the coconut, is a tasty and nutritious fruit. You can find coconut in various forms in grocery stores, including:
While native to Southeast Asia, the coconut tree is naturally widespread, and its fruit is globally sourced. From the plant's flavor to its increasing culinary uses, coconut is becoming a global dietary sensation. However, dieters only recently began to appreciate the fruit for its various benefits.
Nutritional Advantages of Coconut
Coconut is not like other fruits. Many fruits are high in carbs and low in fat, but coconut is the opposite. Additionally, the hard-shelled fruit contains protein, minerals, and B vitamins. Some of the minerals of value found in coconuts include:
The minerals found in coconuts are vital to bone health and metabolism. Specifically, the mineral manganese helps in the digestion of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and proteins. Also, copper and iron help produce selenium and red blood cells.
Finally, the fat in coconuts is healthier than other fats. The type of fat is a form of medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs provide a rapid form of energy that is absorbed and converted directly from the small intestine. More research is necessary to understand the specific benefits of MCTs.
Surprising Benefits of Coconut
Besides the nutritional advantages of coconut, there are other benefits to consider. Coconut oil is one of the most versatile substances, with uses as skin moisturizers and hair conditioners. Still, the fruit itself has three interesting benefits that are often overlooked.
While many benefits of coconut are hypothetical, one thing is true: coconuts contain powerful antioxidants. Coconut meat can protect cells against oxidative stress because it contains phenolic compounds, specifically:
- Caffeic acid
- Gallic acid
- P-coumaric acid
- Salicylic acid
The specific antioxidants in coconut are polyphenol antioxidants. Coconut antioxidants can protect against cellular damage and chronic disease.
2. Blood Sugar Control
Because coconuts are high in fat and fiber and low in carbohydrates, the fruit may help control blood sugar levels. The high fiber content of coconut meat can slow digestion and possibly improve insulin levels, which can help people manage blood sugar levels. However, not all reports are as praising, with some research suggesting coconut fat can increase long-term insulin resistance. Essentially, more research is needed to understand how coconut and its products can help with blood sugar control.
3. Antibacterial Properties
Some research indicates that coconut oil can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. For example, one study showed that when coconut oil was added to test tubes with Staphylococcus aureus, the oil slowed or eliminated further bacterial growth. Several similar studies seem to perpetuate the idea of coconut oil as an antibacterial agent, but more research is necessary for proof of concept for human use.
How To Incorporate More Coconut Into Your Diet
Incorporating more coconut into your diet need not be difficult. Several easy ways to incorporate the beneficial fruit include:
- Shredded coconut
- Coconut flour
- Flaked or shaved coconut
- Coconut oil
Coconut is a healthy and often underrated fruit. The combination of healthy fat, fiber, and low carbs makes it an incredible addition to any diet. Still, before incorporating new foods into your diet or making significant changes, you should consult your primary care physician.