The beloved coconut can be magically transformed into a delicious, creamy, fatty milk, smooth tropical oil, sweet, crunchy flakes, and so much more. Coconut also has a plethora of health benefits. Let’s discuss the many health benefits of coconut and why you should include it in your ketogenic diet.
What are the Benefits of Coconut?
Coconut is actually a fruit from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). The coconut is used for its tasty water, oil, milk, and meat. Coconuts have been grown in tropical regions for thousands of years, but recently, they’ve been surging in popularity in the health and fitness realm . Here are just some of the many benefits of coconut:
Most other fruits are high in carbs, but coconut is high in healthy fats, which is perfect for keto dieters! Plus, the high fiber content means it’s low in net carbs. Coconuts contain protein, small amounts of B vitamins, important minerals, and more [2,3,4]. Coconuts are nutrient-rich! For example, they’re high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and the metabolism of cholesterol, protein, and carbohydrates .
A large portion of the fat in coconut is in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). You might have heard of MCT oil. Your body metabolizes MCTs differently from other fats. Your body absorbs MCTs directly from your small intestine and rapidly uses them for energy.
MCTs might promote body fat loss in those with obesity when consumed in place of long-chain saturated fats from animal foods [6,7].
2. Heart Health!
Studies of people on Polynesian Islands that frequently consume coconut meat reveal lower rates of heart disease than those following a Western diet. Consuming virgin coconut oil might reduce belly fat. Belly fat can increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease [8,9].
3. Blood Sugar Control
Coconut oil is low in carbs but high in fat and fiber, so it might help regulate your blood sugar. Some animal studies show coconut had anti-diabetic effects, possibly due to the arginine – an amino acid important for the functioning of pancreatic cells. Pancreatic cells release the insulin hormone to stabilize your blood sugar levels .
Coconut meat is also high in fiber, which can help slow digestion and improve insulin resistance and blood sugar levels .
4. Strong Antioxidants
The phenolic compounds in coconut meat might help protect cells from oxidative damage. Phenolic compounds like gallic acid and caffeic acid are beneficial antioxidants . Lab tests on coconut meat reveal antioxidant and free-radical scavenging activity.
The polyphenols in coconut might prevent the oxidation of LDL or what some experts call the bad cholesterol. This could make the LDL cholesterol less likely to form arterial plaques. Arterial plaques are believed to increase the risk of heart disease .
5. Easy to Incorporate Coconut on Keto
It’s easy to add the versatile high-fat coconut into your keto diet. The meaty texture and flavor of shaved or flaked coconut is a nice addition to savory keto dishes, such as fish stews or bakes. Watch out for brands containing pesky added sugar!
Shredded coconut works well for baking and adds a hint of natural sweetness to keto muffins and cookies. Sprinkling raw coconut adds texture and flavor to a keto granola or noatmeal! Stir raw coconut or finely shredded coconut into a tasty keto pudding or yogurt.
Coconut flour is another gluten-free and paleo- and keto-friendly option often used in baking as a substitute for wheat flour. You should note that it doesn’t rise quite the same as wheat flour and absorbs more liquid than other types of flour.
Coconut oil is a palatable heat-stable fat that’s perfect for sauteing, baking, or roasting.
Try some of these keto recipes starring the many different forms of coconut:
Do you use coconut milk, coconut cream, fresh coconut, unsweetened coconut shreds, unrefined coconut oil, or other types of coconut on keto? Comment below and share your favorite ways to enjoy coconut on keto!
4. Amarasiri, W. A. L. D., & Dissanayake, A. S. (2006). Coconut fats. Ceylon Med J, 51(2), 47-51. DOI: 10.4038/cmj.v51i2.1351
5. Avila, D. S., Puntel, R. L., & Aschner, M. (2013). Manganese in health and disease. Met Ions Life Sci, 13, 199-227. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-7500-8_7
6. Boateng, L., Ansong, R., Owusu, W. B., & Steiner-Asiedu, M. (2016). Coconut oil and palm oil’s role in nutrition, health, and national development: A review. Ghana Med J, 50(3), 189-196.
7. Rial, S. A., Karelis, A. D., Bergeron, K-F., & Mounier, C. (2016). Gut microbiota and metabolic health: The potential beneficial effects of a medium chain triglyceride diet in obese individuals. Nutrients, 8(5), 281. DOI: 10.3390/nu8050281
8. Eyres, L., Eyres, M. F., Chisholm, A., & Brown, R. C. (2016). Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev, 74(4), 267-280. DOI: 10.1093/nutrit/nuw002
9. Liau, K. M., Lee, Y. Y., Chen, C. K., & Rasool, A. H. G. (2011). An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN Pharmacol, DOI: 10.5402/2011/949686
10. Salil, G., Nevin, K. G., & Rajamohan, T. (2011). Arginine rich coconut kernel protein modulates diabetes in alloxan treated rats. Chem Biol Interact, 189(1-2), 107-111. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbi.2010.10.015
11. Weickert, M. O., & Pfeiffer, A. F. H. (2018). Impact of dietary fiber consumption on insulin resistance and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Journal of Nutrition, 148(1), 7-12. DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxx008
12. Mahayothee, B., Koomyart, I., Khuwijitjaru, K. P., Siriwongwilaichat, P., Nagle, M., & Muller, J. (2015). Phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity, and medium chain fatty acids profiles of coconut water and meat at different maturity stages. International Journal of Food Properties, https://doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2015.1099042
13. DebMandal, M., & Mandal, S. (2011). Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med, 4(3), 241-247. DOI: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60078-3
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