I love coconut. I love it on its own. I love to use the flavour to enhance all kinds of Indian vegan cuisine. I even love to use the shells to make fancy cocktail vessels. So, today I’d like to tell you EVERYTHING there is to know about coconut, especially in the context of a vegan approach to life.
Oh, and I’m going to show you how to make lentil curry with coconut milk (one of my favourite vegan recipes)
Coconuts are a versatile fruit that have gained immense popularity in vegan cuisine due to their numerous health benefits and unique flavour profile. This tropical fruit is not only a favourite among vegans but has also been used in various traditional cuisines around the world for centuries. Coconuts are used in a variety of forms in vegan cooking, including coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour, and desiccated coconut.
A coconut is a fruit that is grown on the coconut palm tree, which is native to tropical regions around the world. The coconut is an oblong-shaped fruit that is covered in a hard, fibrous shell. Inside the shell, there is a white, fleshy meat that can be eaten raw or used in various dishes. Additionally, the liquid inside the coconut, known as coconut water, is also a popular beverage.
While the coconut is often referred to as a “nut”, it is actually classified as a fruit, specifically a drupe. A drupe is a type of fruit that has a hard outer layer, a fleshy middle layer, and a seed inside. Other examples of drupes include peaches, plums, and cherries. Therefore, while the coconut has many nut-like characteristics, such as a hard outer shell and a high-fat content, it is technically a fruit.
The Health Benefits of Coconut
Coconuts are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients that are beneficial for our health.
Coconuts are an excellent source of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. One cup of shredded coconut contains approximately 283 calories, 12 grams of fibre, and 26 grams of fat, which mostly consists of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – a type of healthy fat that is easily absorbed and metabolised by the body.
Is coconut good for health or bad?
Despite being high in saturated fats, which were previously believed to be unhealthy, recent studies have shown that the saturated fats in coconut are actually beneficial for our health. In fact, the MCTs found in coconut have been linked to weight loss, improved heart health, and boosted brain function.
Five benefits of coconut:
Heart health: Coconut is rich in lauric acid, a type of medium-chain fatty acid that can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Digestive health: The high fibre content in coconut can help improve digestion and prevent constipation.
Weight loss: The MCTs in coconut have been shown to increase energy expenditure and reduce appetite, leading to weight loss.
Skin health: Coconut oil contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health.
Brain health: The MCTs in coconut can improve brain function and help prevent cognitive decline in older adults.
Coconut is a versatile ingredient that can be consumed in various forms, including as coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, and shredded coconut. However, as with any food, it is important to understand how much and how often to consume coconut to avoid any potential negative effects on our health.
Is it OK to eat coconut every day? While coconut is a healthy addition to a vegan diet, it is recommended to consume it in moderation. Eating too much coconut can lead to an excess intake of saturated fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease and weight gain. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to consume no more than one serving of coconut per day.
What is the healthiest way to eat coconut? The healthiest way to consume coconut is to opt for fresh or minimally processed forms of coconut, such as coconut water or fresh coconut meat. Coconut oil should be consumed in moderation due to its high calorie and saturated fat content. Additionally, it is important to choose unsweetened and unflavoured coconut products to avoid added sugars and artificial flavors.
Disadvantages of coconut: While coconut has many health benefits, it also has some disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that it is high in calories, which can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. Additionally, some people may be allergic to coconut or have an intolerance to it, which can cause digestive issues.
When should you avoid coconut? Individuals who have a history of allergies or intolerance to coconut should avoid consuming it. Additionally, those who are on a low-fat diet or have high cholesterol levels may want to limit their intake of coconut due to its high-fat content. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding coconut to your diet if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.
Coconuts, The Cardiovascular System, and Brain Health
Coconut has been linked to various health benefits, including improved brain function and cholesterol levels.
What does coconut do to the brain? The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut have been shown to provide the brain with a quick source of energy, which can improve cognitive function and memory in both young and older adults. Additionally, some studies have suggested that consuming coconut oil may be beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Is coconut bad for cholesterol? While coconut is high in saturated fats, which were previously believed to be unhealthy, recent research has shown that the type of saturated fat found in coconut – specifically, lauric acid – can actually improve cholesterol levels. Lauric acid can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is known as the “good” cholesterol, and can also reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is known as the “bad” cholesterol. However, it is important to consume coconut in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, as consuming too much can still lead to an excess intake of saturated fats.
Coconuts and Digestive Health
Coconut has been touted for its potential digestive health benefits, including its ability to act as a natural laxative.
Is coconut a natural laxative? Yes, coconut contains high amounts of fibre, which can help regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. Additionally, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil have been shown to improve digestive function and reduce inflammation in the gut.
Can you eat raw coconut? Yes, raw coconut can be consumed and is a delicious and healthy addition to a vegan diet. The flesh of a fresh coconut can be eaten on its own or added to smoothies, salads, or other dishes. Raw coconut can also be used to make coconut milk or shredded coconut for baking and cooking.
Is raw coconut a good snack? Yes, raw coconut can be a healthy and satisfying snack option. It is rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and can help keep you feeling full and satiated between meals. Raw coconut is also a good source of healthy fats and can help support heart health and brain function. However, it is important to consume raw coconut in moderation, as it is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.
Eating Coconut at Night
Coconut is a versatile and nutritious food that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, but some people believe that it should not be consumed at night.
Why we should not eat coconut at night? There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that eating coconut at night is harmful. However, some people believe that consuming coconut before bed can lead to digestive issues or disrupted sleep. This may be due to the high fibre and fat content of coconut, which can be difficult for some people to digest. Additionally, coconut contains caffeine-like compounds that can act as stimulants and keep you awake if consumed in large amounts.
What your body needs when you crave coconut? If you find yourself craving coconut, it may be a sign that your body is in need of certain nutrients. Coconut is rich in fibre, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, all of which can help support overall health and well-being. Additionally, coconut contains electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium, which can help regulate fluid balance and prevent dehydration. Craving coconut may also be a sign that your body is in need of more healthy fats, as coconut is a good source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can help improve brain function and boost energy levels.
Side Effects of Consuming Coconuts
While coconut is generally considered a healthy and nutritious food, there are some potential side effects associated with its consumption.
Feeling dizzy after drinking coconut water
Some people may experience dizziness or lightheadedness after drinking coconut water. This may be due to the high potassium content of coconut water, which can cause an imbalance in electrolytes if consumed in excess. Additionally, coconut water may have a mild diuretic effect, which can increase urine output and lead to dehydration if not properly balanced with adequate hydration.
Is desiccated coconut good for you?
Desiccated coconut is a form of dried coconut that has been shredded or flaked. While it is a good source of fibre, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals, it is also high in calories and saturated fat.
Consuming desiccated coconut in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet can provide some health benefits, such as improved digestive function and satiety. However, it is important to be mindful of portion sizes and to balance the intake of desiccated coconut with other healthy foods. Additionally, those with allergies or sensitivities to coconut should avoid consuming desiccated coconut or other coconut products.
Quantity and Calorie Intake of Coconut
Coconut is a nutritious food, but it is important to consume it in moderation as it is also high in calories and fat.
How much coconut should you eat a day?
The amount of coconut that you should consume each day will depend on your individual health and dietary needs. While there is no set recommended daily intake of coconut, it is generally recommended to consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Most health experts suggest limiting intake to 1-2 servings per day, which could be in the form of coconut meat, coconut milk, or coconut oil.
How many calories in one coconut?
One medium-sized coconut typically contains around 1400 calories. The calorie content of coconut can vary depending on its size and how it is prepared, such as whether it is fresh, dried, or processed into products like coconut oil or coconut milk. It is important to be mindful of the calorie content of coconut when consuming it as part of your diet, and to balance it with other healthy and nutrient-dense foods.
Vegans and Coconuts
Coconut is a popular ingredient in vegan cuisine due to its versatility and nutritional value.
Here are some aspects of coconut and veganism:
Is dried coconut vegan?
Dried coconut is generally considered vegan as it is simply the flesh of the coconut that has been dehydrated. However, it is important to check the packaging to ensure that no animal-derived ingredients have been added during processing or packaging.
Why do vegans use coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a popular ingredient in vegan cooking and baking as it is a plant-based source of healthy fats and has a neutral flavour. Additionally, coconut oil is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as as a substitute for butter or oil in baking, or as a cooking oil for stir-fries or sautéed vegetables. However, it is important to note that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
While you’re here, why not try my amazing coconut lentil curry?