Coconuts are very good for you. They offer benefits across multiple body systems and can be consumed in multiple ways.
The health benefits of coconuts are controversial but by looking at all of the facts and details it is clear to see that they are one the healthiest foods on earth. The controversy lies in the fact that coconut provides you with saturated fats – fats that are generally thought of as harmful to the cardiovascular system. It’s important to understand that the saturated fats that can damage your heart are made up of long-chain fatty acids. Not all saturated fats are created equally, though, we just lump them together this way when reading labels because the bad stuff is talked about constantly.
Saturated fats can be made up of short-, medium- or long-chain fatty acids. These refer to the length of the molecule chain itself and each chain length effects the body differently. Short-chain and medium-chain molecules benefit the body positively while certain long-chain molecules pose problems for the cardiovascular system.
Let’s focus on medium-chain fatty acids like contained in coconut. Medium-chain fatty acids induce a ketogenic state in the body - a state in which the body burns fat for energy. This can improve brain function and metabolism. This metabolism boost can help to improve weight loss. If including coconut in your diet for weight loss, you will have to cut back in other places since it is high in calories. A 2009 study by Henderson et al. found that the ketone bodies produced during ketosis can also benefit those with degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Coconut can also fight off diseases caused by toxins or free radical exposure because of the antioxidants it contains. The antioxidant properties in coconut can prevent damage in cells caused by oxidative stresses that can lead to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Coconut can also stabilize blood sugar, regulate hormones, and boost the immune system fighting off illness and killing bacteria.
If you eat the coconut flesh, sometimes found as coconut butter, flakes or flour, you will also add fiber to your diet. One cup of shredded coconut contains 7.2 grams of fiber which can help to resolve digestive system concerns and bulk up stool. Fiber also binds to cholesterol in the small intestine preventing it from reaching the bloodstream.
Possible short-term side effects
- allergic reaction
- improved cognition
- boosts metabolism
- helps with weight loss
- protects the brain against degenerative diseases
- lowers cholesterol
- improves digestion
- boosts immune system
- prevents oxidative stress damage
Our favorite coconut snacks (what is this?)
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Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS | 08-14-2016
Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
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