The coconut is one of nature’s most versatile and sweet tasting fruits. Coconut meat can be used for cooking and baking – and coconut water is growing rapidly in popularity as an alternative to sports drinks. The sweet, rich milk of the coconut fruit is a staple in certain ethnic foods – such as Thai cuisine. But what about health benefits? Is coconut good for you?
Is Coconut Healthy: Isn’t It High in Fat?
An ounce of coconut has a whopping eighteen grams of saturated fat, which is only slightly less than the amount in an ounce of butter. Some research suggests that the saturated fat in coconut is less unhealthy than other forms of saturated fat, since it’s in the form of the medium-chain fatty acids – lauric and myristic acid. These fatty acids have the undesirable effect of raising LDL cholesterol levels, but some studies show they also raise levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, which helps to lower the risk of heart disease.
Some research shows that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil may speed up weight loss. This is because they’re transported directly to the liver, instead of circulating in the bloodstream. Once in the liver, they can be used for fuel – in much the same way as carbohydrates. Thus, they’re less likely to be deposited on the hips or tummy as stubborn body fat.
Other experts aren’t as convinced of the health benefits of the saturated fats in coconuts and coconut oil – believing they increase the risk of heart disease similarly to other saturated fats.
Is Coconut Good for You: Protection Against Viruses?
Some small studies show that the lauric acid in coconut and coconut milk destroys some viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause infections. Phillipine researchers are looking at its benefits for fighting the HIV virus. It’s too early to draw any conclusions, but the prospect is intriguing.
Other Benefits of Coconut
Coconut meat is a good source of fiber and a decent source of some minerals, particularly manganese.
Is Coconut Healthy: The Bottom Line?
It’s not clear whether the saturated fats in coconut products are heart-unfriendly or not. Before making coconut, coconut milk, or coconut oil, a staple in your diet, it’s safer to see what future studies show. On the other hand, a little coconut in moderation is probably not harmful for most people.
Natural News website. “Learn About the Many Benefits of Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil”
Nutrition Data website.