The coconut grows on the coconut palm tree, which thrives in tropical climates. While coconuts are a large part of the diet for many people who live in tropical regions, many people from colder regions have never eaten raw coconut meat. Although the meat can be difficult to remove from its hard shell, it is often sold in grocery stores with the shell removed and can be eaten plain or shredded onto salads and other dishes.
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Medium Chain Fatty Acids
One cup of raw coconut meat contains 283 calories, most of which come from its 26.8 g of fat. While most plant foods contain very little saturated fat, coconut meat contains a large amount, with 23.8 g per cup. However, unlike other saturated fats, which are long chain fatty acids, most of the fat in coconut is a medium chain fatty acid. Medium chain fatty acids are broken down much faster than long chain fatty acids, so they do not contribute to high cholesterol, as long chain fatty acids do. In fact, according to "The Philippine Journal of Cardiology", the fat in coconut may possibly help to lower bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. Despite these possible benefits, if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, you should check with your physician before consuming coconut meat or any other food high in fat.
Coconut meat is high in fiber, with one cup containing 7.2 g, which is more than 20 percent of the recommended daily amount for most adults. Fiber assists in the digestion process by adding bulk to the stool, which helps to move food through the digestive tract. Fiber can also help you feel full, which is important if you are trying to eat less to lose weight. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommends consuming 14 g of fiber per every 1,000 calories consumed, which means most children need 17 to 25 g per day and most adults need 25 to 36 g per day.
Coconut meat is high in the trace mineral manganese, with one cup providing 67 percent of the recommended daily amount for women and 52 percent for men. Manganese helps you metabolize both fat and protein. It also supports both the immune and nervous systems and promotes stable blood sugar levels. Manganese also helps your body use other nutrients such as iron, thiamine and vitamin E.
Potassium and Copper
Coconut meat provides a significant amount of two other minerals: potassium and copper. One cup provides 14 percent of the recommended amount of potassium and 39 percent of copper. Potassium, along with sodium, is essential for proper fluid balance within your cells. It is also necessary for proper heart function and muscle growth. Copper is important for the production of red blood cells and assists with your sense of taste.
- Coconut Research Center: Phillipine Journal of Cardiology: Coconut Oil: Artherogenic or Not?
- Medline Plus: Fiber
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Nutritional Goals
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2006
- Medline Plus: Potassium in Diet
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Raw Coconut Meat