Coconut, in all its forms, is often marketed as the ultimate health food – but is it really worth the hype? Registered dietitian Nishta Saxena gets asked by her patients all the time about the true benefits of the fruit, and so she visited us at Your Morning to break down five coconut products and their benefits and downsides.
Watch the video above to find out more about coconut from Nishta, and find her breakdown of the fruit below!
Coconut Flesh / Meat
Whether you enjoy the flesh freshly cut, or dried into flakes and chips – it’s awesome! It’s a great addition to meals and the perfect snack; it has a kind of lightly sweet, nutty tangy taste. It’s also a great snack for kids. 1/2 cup shredded coconut contains 142 calories, 3.6g of fibre, and about 13g of fat (mostly saturated). It is very high in manganese, selenium and other minerals, does not contain cholesterol.
Many people will say coconut water is more hydrating than water, but that isn’t true. It contains naturally occurring sugars and electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. Per one cup it contains about 46 calories, very little fat, and some calcium and magnesium, making it a better choice than coconut milks. But beware – some brands add sugars to their coconut water, making it a sugar-sweetened beverage and therefore not a great choice.
Made from fresh coconuts, coconut oil is often marketed as the best thing ever…but it’s not. One tablespoon contains about 120 calories, and is about 80% saturated fat, which is what makes it solid at room temperature. While there have been numerous health claims about its ability to help control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, clean your teeth and more, there is very little evidence to support this and consumers should still be wary about consuming high amounts of saturated fats.
Coconut oil is high in Vitamin E, so it is very popular to use for skin and hair health. It is not the ONLY or best oil to use – a collection of mono, polyunsaturated and saturated fats is best for a healthy diet.
Created from dried, pulverized coconut meat, coconut flour has become very popular in the gluten-free world as an alternative flour to use in baking. It is very dry and absorbent so you do need to use a lot of eggs and liquid to bake with it, you can’t use it 1:1 compared to conventional flour.
The newest product on the market in the coconut world is coconut manna, also known as coconut butter. Made from pureed, dried coconut meat, it’s mainly used a spread and is popular with the paleo and keto communities. It contains a similar nutrient profile to coconut flesh.