Are you ready to supercharge your health through a whole, natural, organic foods diet? Dubbed the “tree of life” in many cultures, the coconut is definitely one of those foods to add to your “must eat” list. In fact, the health benefits of coconuts are truly astounding!
It’s an incredibly versatile food, so there are many different ways to work it into your diet. It also has amazing benefits for your skin, hair, and body.
So, whether you’re a whole foods “newbie” or you’ve been striving to follow a clean foods diet for quite some time, there’s something in this article for you. Read on for some coconut-infused inspiration to improve your health!
8 Stunning Health Benefits of Coconuts: Table of Contents
- Summary of the Proven Ways Coconuts Can Improve Your Body + Mind
- Coconut Milk 101
- Beginner’s Guide to Coconut Oil
- Everything You’ve Ever Wondered About Coconut Water
- An In-Depth Look at the 8 Health Benefits of Coconuts
How Coconuts Benefit Your Health:
A Brief Overview
We’ll look at the specific health benefits of coconuts more in-depth throughout the rest of this article, but here’s a quick overview:
- Improve Your Immune System
- Prevent Dehydration
- Enhance Memory
- Reduce the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
- Naturally Moisturize Hair and Skin
- Prevent Unwanted Weight Gain & Obesity
- Diminish symptoms of IBS naturally
A Brief Nutritional Profile of Coconuts
Understanding the Health Benefits of Coconut
The nutritional value of a coconut is overwhelmingly valuable. It is a great source of manganese, which your body needs to metabolize carbohydrates, cholesterol, and proteins properly. Your body also uses manganese to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Both dried and raw coconut “meat” is rich in selenium, a type of antioxidant that defends your cells. They’re also great sources of copper and iron.
Coconuts are also rich in important minerals like selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, and iron. They also deliver a healthy dose of Vitamins C, E, B.
Additionally, coconuts have a lot of natural fiber. This natural fiber promotes healthy digestion, helps lower your risk of developing heart disease, and keeps your cholesterol levels in check.
The Many Faces of Coconut
Raw coconut is wonderfully delicious and satisfying when mixed in with oatmeal, sprinkled over pancakes, or integrated in an ultra-healthy muesli mix. But the benefits of coconut “meat” is just the beginning. There are also unique aspects of coconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut water.
Coconut milk, which is made from the meaty party of the coconut, carries with it all the minerals, vitamins, and nutrients present in raw coconut. Many health food stores sell coconut milk, but it’s quite simple to make it at home, too. This is a sure-fire way to get the purest coconut milk that is free from preservatives.
How Many Calories in Coconut Milk?
There are 551 calories in one cup of coconut milk. While this is a lot, there are a lot of nutrients packed in there! Luckily, there are plenty of recipes with coconut that don’t require such a large serving size. Therefore, it’s best to use smaller portions of coconut milk in recipes instead of drinking a full cup. For example, you can use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of coconut milk with a bowl of muesli. It’s also a popular ingredient in smoothie bowls, but a much smaller amount is used. Furthermore, all you need is a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream to enjoy its decadence.
Coconut Milk and Heart Disease
Interestingly, there is a good deal of research related to coconut milk and heart disease. For example, one study found that men who ate coconut milk porridge over an 8-week period showed an increase in “good” cholesterol and a decrease in “bad” cholesterol.” Both of these measurements reduce an individual’s risk for heart disease.
Coconut Milk Recipes
Interested in making homemade coconut milk? In the video below, you can see how Lisa (co-founder of Mu Mu Muesli) makes coconut milk at home from organic unsweetened medium shredded coconut and water.
Here are some further recommendations for coconut milk recipes:
- Supercharge your day with Hemp Milk-Infused Coconut Milk
- Subscribe to Mu Mu Muesli’s “coconut milk recipes” board on Pinterest for a continuously updated list of the best recipes from coconut milk from around the web!
- One simple coconut milk recipe is drinking organic Mu Mu Muesli breakfast cereal with coconut milk. Simple? Yes. Energizing and nourishing? Always.
When the meaty portion of a coconut is dried, it is called “copra.” Typically, the copra is mechanically pressed to separate the oil from the coconut “meat.” Coconut oil is often used as a natural moisturizer for dry skin, a soothing lip balm, or a conditioning hair mask. The secret behind coconut oil’s healing effects on your hair and skin? Vitamin E.
In terms of nutritional benefits, coconut oil consists largely of saturated fat. You might balk at the idea of saturated fat being a good thing, but it’s interesting to look at how the saturated fat in coconut oil differs from the saturated fat in many foods.
Unhealthy types of saturated fat have long-chain fatty acids. Simply put, this type of fat is more difficult for the body to break down. In contrast, coconut oil consists of short- and medium-chained fatty acids. The body digests and absorbs these types of fatty acids much more easily.
Interestingly, coconut oil contains lauric acid, a compound present in human breast milk. Due to its antiviral properties, lauric acid promotes a healthier immune system and may improve your body’s ability to fight diseases.
- In order to reap the benefits of coconut oil for your skin and hair, try making this Coconut Oil Lotion Bar from the coconutmama.com.
- For those interested in the medicinal benefits of CBD and cannabis, this Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil recipe is a great way to start baking with cannabis and coconut oil. (I suggest doing your research and/or speaking with someone trained in the medicinal uses of cannabis before diving headfirst into this one!)
- Again, Mu Mu Muesli’s “coconut oil recipes” recipe blog archives are always updated and here for your inspiration!
Unlike raw coconut or coconut oil, coconut water comes from green, young coconuts. This beverage is naturally sweet, has a somewhat nutty flavor, and is a powerfully re-hydrating beverage. In fact, one serving size has about as much potassium as four bananas!
When I first moved to Brooklyn after living in Michigan all of my life, the summers were especially tough. My body just wasn’t accustomed to such high temperatures, and I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating! I remember fainting on more than one occasion after going for a jog or even after a long, sweaty commute in an un-air conditioned subway car.
There are studies showing that coconut diminishes belly fat. Excess belly fat is a contributing risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, and so it makes sense that coconut could help prevent heart problems.
Out of desperation, I swapped plain water for coconut water in the morning and evening. I felt relief almost immediately, and the fainting and dizziness stopped!
Coconut water has also been shown to be beneficial for pregnant women for the following reasons:
- Helps improve circulation, which is vital during pregnancy when the amount of blood circulating throughout a woman’s body increases by as much as 50%
- May prevent UTIs
- Rich source of electrolytes
Coconut Water Recipes
- Of course, for an up-to-date list of coconut water recipes, follow our specially curated Pinterest board dedicated to coconut water recipes.
- I also recommend these vegan Coconut Water Fruit Pops for a burst of berries and re-hydration during hot summer months.
The Health Benefits of Coconuts Are Truly Astounding
(And There Are Many Scientific Studies to Support This Claim!)
Now that we’ve looked at the various forms of coconut oil, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of coconut, including scientific studies that support these claims. You may be surprised!
May Reduce Symptoms of IBS
If you suffer from IBS-related symptoms, then take heart: coconut may offer natural relief! According to the Gastroparesis and Dysmotilities Association, both coconut meat and coconut oil can slow down gut activity, thereby reducing symptoms.
Combat Weight Gain and Obesity
Finally, coconuts are another natural source of healthy fats. Since the fat in coconuts is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides), it can actually help treat obesity.
How’s that for a tasty weight loss snack?!
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
As I mentioned above, the manganese in coconut helps the body metabolize cholesterol correctly. There are actually a few small studies examining populations of people who ate lots of coconut. In sum, the results are inconclusive, and one study even concludes that coconuts don’t really effect cholesterol at all.
Coconuts Support Brain Health
Remember the medium-chain fatty acids mentioned above? As previously discussed, these are a more favorable form of saturated fat that the body absorbs and digests with ease. When they are metabolized by the liver, they are converted to ketones. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, ketones are a valuable energy source for the brain, and they may be helpful for people who either suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or who are starting to show signs of memory impairment.
Additionally, the hormones and phenolic compounds found in coconut oil help prevent β-amyloid peptide buildup in the brain. As discussed in The 9 Life-Changing Benefits of Dates, β-amyloid peptide is a substance that can accumulate in the brain over time. Excess amounts of β-amyloid peptide between your brain cells impairs their ability to communicate with each other, which can ultimately lead to Alzheimer’s Disease or significant memory loss.
If you’re looking for a food rich in whole ingredients that helps fight brain disorders, organic Mu Mu Muesli is an excellent option. It contains both dates and coconut!
Coconut Fights Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Heart Disease
Studies suggest that coconuts contain nutrients that help treat hypertension, lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, and are beneficial for insulin resistance. These are all conditions that, when left untreated, may lead to heart disease or diabetes.
Another risk factor for diabetes is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there are uneven levels of antioxidants and free radicals in your body. Free radicals are molecules with an uneven number of electrons. And, while some free radicals are normal, excessive amounts can lead to large-scale cellular damage, causing premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Antioxidants help prevent damage from free radicals.
For a specific example of coconut oil’s anti-diabetic effects via its antioxidants, consider this study published in the Journal of Diabetes Mellitus. The study found that virgin coconut oil significantly reduces oxidative stress in male rats with Type I Diabetes, which has exciting implications for humans with diabetes!
Inspired By the Health Benefits of Coconuts?
Here’s What You Should Do
Clearly, coconuts have many health benefits! But how can you work them into your diet without getting tired with the “same old, same old” routine?
Here are some helpful tips and resources for incorporating coconuts into your individual health plan:
- Use organic shredded coconut to spice up salads, ice cream, oatmeal, or yogurt. Check out WikiHow for detailed instructions on preparing and storing shredded coconut at home.
- Instead of olive oil when cooking, try using coconut oil instead.
- Ditch cow’s milk and use coconut milk in homemade soups and sauces.
- Experiment with using coconut flour instead of grain-based flours when cooking. Pinterest is your friend when it comes to finding thousands of coconut flour recipes in an instant!
- Substitute pure coconut oil for store-bought lip balms, moisturizing creams, and hair hydrating masks.
- Stock up on preservative-free, non-GMO organic Mu Mu Muesli, which contains a multitude of healthy ingredients in addition to organic coconut.
What’s your favorite way to consume coconut? Did we leave out one of your favorite coconut recipes? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!