After the coco de mer, the coconut is the world’s second largest seed––but as far as versatility and refreshingness go, no other nut casts a larger shadow.
The beautiful allure of the coconut is that it is like a self-contained meal in an organic container. Inside a healthy young coconut you’ll find both thirst-quenching relief and keto-friendly fats. And, it works great as compost in your garden!
Of course, once a coconut falls off a tree anything could happen––That’s why we wanted to create this helpful guide to the world of coconut-derived products and how they can best be applied in your keto lifestyle.
Let’s get started with the reasons we get squirrely for coconuts!
Top 7 Health Benefits of Coconuts
1. Rich healthy fat source
- about ⅓ of coconut’s flesh mass is pure fat! That’s very unique for a fruit, only avocados top it in fat density.
- Coconuts are the richest in saturated fat, but coconuts saturated fats are able to be processed by the body easily and converted into energy directly.
- You’ve also probably heard some hype because over 50% of coconut’s fat is made of medium-chain triglycerides or MCT’s, which are linked to weight loss and help fuel ketosis.
2. It’s a multi-vitamin in a shell!
- Inside a coconut you’ll find vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6 and B12. Seriously, coconuts have so many vitamins inside of them that reading the list almost sounds like a game of Battleship™! Coconuts cover a lot of bases.
- Maybe instead of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, “ we should be saying “A coconut a day keeps the doctor bills at bay!”
3. Ripe with minerals
- In addition to vitamins, coconuts are a rich source in magnesium which is an electrolyte, hence the pronounced thirst-quenching effect you get from drinking a raw coconut. That’s beneficial to your muscles after a strenuous workout as well!
- That’s not to mention that manganese is good for bone health as well helping your body process carbohydrates, cholesterol, and proteins––you know, essential digestive functions.
- Besides magnesium, coconuts also contains calcium, iron, selenium, sodium, and phosphorus. A coconut brings the rich mineral of the earth and makes it a drinkable treat for your body!
4. Dietary Fiber Goodness
- To maintain a balanced keto lifestyle, high fat intake comes with the need for high fiber to balance it out and keep your digestive system healthy. Dietary fiber plays a very important role in slowing digestion which in turn helps the body improve insulin resistance.
- Coconut provides the best of both worlds in that fresh coconut contains 9g of dietary fiber per 100g serving; dried coconut contains 18g of dietary fiber per 100g serving.
5. Lower Blood Sugar
- In addition to dietary fiber having an impact on insulin resistance, coconuts are rich in arginine, an amino acid important for the function of pancreatic cells. The pancreas is the organ that releases insulin, so it follows that healthier pancreatic function helps to lower blood sugar.
- This of course is great news for people who are using keto to enhance the health of their pancreas or prevent diabetes.
6. Antioxidants Galore
- The flesh of a coconut contains multiple phenolic––antioxidant––compounds including: caffeic, gallic, p-coumaric, and salicylic acids. Coconut water may contain some of these beneficial antioxidant compounds, but with far less concentration than the meat does.
- The antioxidant nature of these compounds is why coconuts are linked to disease prevention. Rest assured, that pure color of coconut meat is no false advertising––this food is so clean that it will clean your body from the inside out!
7. Potassium Power
- Yes, we already commented on the mineral-rich content of coconuts, but potassium deserves its own special shout-out.
- If you lead an active lifestyle, potassium is one of the most important electrolytes that you can get. Some studies have even shown drinking a coconut is more effective than sports beverages to help your body rehydrate.
- Potassium also helps relieve muscle cramps, prevent muscle twitching and is most often the supplement added to sports beverages––a coconut just happens to be a much cooler and healthier option.
At Belichka, every product we make starts from the intention of using ingredients with a specific health goal. We use organic shredded coconut in our Matcha+Coconut and Raspberry+Coconut keto energy bars, 2 of our favorites. The coconut is subtle, you may not even notice it's there, but it helps to round out the overall flavor of the bars while bringing extra minerals and even more healthy fats to the product.
Keep Reading below to learn even more about coconuts...where they come from, how they are harvested and all of the different types of coconut products available (and which ones are the healthiest!)....
Coconut Production and Products
Now that you’ve seen the bright white beacon coconut represents to your overall health, it seems apt to follow with a discussion of coconut production so that it’s clearer which coconut products are the best to adapt into a keto lifestyle.
Step1: Nut to Tree
If you live in a tropical climate and planted a coconut in about 10 inches of soil, in 3-6 months a germinated seed would sprout from the ground.
Step 2: Tree to Nut
From there, the young coconut palm grows quickly for a tree. However, it’s not until usually after the plant has matured to be five years old and roughly just five feet high that the tree flowers. With any luck, those flowers become coconuts.
Step 3: Nut to Ground
When coconuts are ripe, they simply fall to the ground. However, many coconut plantations harvest large coconuts the cool way: by machete to prevent damage to the coconuts.
In fact: this is what determines the difference between a green and a brown coconut!
A green coconut is just an unripe, un-hairy version of the same exact nut.
This leads health-minded people to the obvious question: which is better for you, green coconuts or brown coconuts?
To tell you the truth: they’re both pretty great for you. It just really depends on what type of coconut product you’re trying to incorporate into your life.
Pure Pleasure: A Whole Coconut
If you ever have the time and means, there’s nothing better than the simple primal pleasure of cracking a fresh coconut open to delight in its deliciousness.
You’ll definitely find the shell of green coconuts much softer and easier to crack. It’s gratifying to open your own coconut, there are three strategies you could try with precaution and a butcher’s knife, machete or small axe.
At Belichka, we officially advocate opening all nuts the way that squirrels do. So if you open a coconut on your own, be a safe primal person.
It’s a common misconception that coconut water comes from young, green coconuts and that coconut milk comes from brown coconuts!
Both green coconuts and brown coconuts contain coconut water. However, young green coconuts are a better source of it because they contain much more of it than their older, browner counterparts. It’s also a bit zippier and fresher tasting.
In brown coconuts the water is far less abundant as it has been used to thicken and fatten the meat on the inside.
Coconut water is best used for refreshing your thirst. It’s a great source of the vitamins and minerals but contains a negligible amount of its fat or fiber.
There has also been research indicating that drinking coconut water may help prevent kidney stones, which is great news for every sentient person with a urethra.
Consumer be conscious: check brands before purchase to confirm that there is no added sugar! Either way, coconut water does contain a relatively high amount of naturally occurring sugars, so drink in moderation!
It may come as a surprise, but Coconuts are not naturally milked!
Coconut milk is extracted from the coconut meat which is often blended and heated with water, the solids are then discarded. Usually brown coconuts are optimal for making coconut milk because they contain more flesh, but coconut milk can be made from green coconuts too.
Because it consists of the coconut flesh, it is ultra concentrated fat and contains many vitamins and minerals, however it does not contain the same fiber like the flesh does because the solid mass is filtered out.
The perks: It’s affordable and versatile! Coconut milk is easy to add fat to coffee, smoothies, cocktails, soups, sauces and meat dishes. Most times, you will find it canned. So it is a shelf-stable and easy product to incorporate into your life.
However, because it is a processed good, be mindful of the quality of the product you use. Nutritional stats can vary a lot brand to brand. Look for a coconut milk without preservatives and if stabilizers are used, try to find
Like coconut milk, coconut oil also comes from the flesh of a coconut. However, coconut oil is extracted by pressing the flesh, similar to the way that olive oil is made.
Coconut oil contains more highly concentrated fat than coconut milk. However, not only does it lack fiber like coconut milk, it does not contain as many vitamins and nutrients.
That said, coconut oil is a wonderful fat. It’s very versatile for cooking purposes. Unlike coconut milk, coconut oil is great because it has a higher smoke point than olive oil and it can be applied to more cooking applications.
Even more so than coconut milk, it’s shelf-stable and doesn’t spoil once opened because of its high saturated fat content.
It’s great to use as a skin moisturizer and has many uses in the bathroom as it does the kitchen. It never hurts to keep a jar of coconut oil around because it has a million uses.
Dried Coconut Shreds
If you’re not eating a fresh coconut, chances are that you will find it dried, often in shredded form. Shredded coconut contains a lot of vitamins: magnesium, copper, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. It's also low in sugar and net carbohydrates with just under 4g Net Carbs per 30g serving, which is why we like it so much, and use it in our keto energy bars here at Belichka.
Coco shreds can add a delightful, fun texture to a lot of food dishes, especially baked goods. It can be a delicious addition to salads or trail mixes.
In your underwear, in the right kitchen light, it can also be delicious on its own!
You can do a lot of things with a coconut shell––you can even imitate the sound of a horse walking for a Hollywood feature––the one thing you can’t do is eat it raw.
Once shell fiber is processed down it’s often turned into charcoal and used in the food industry, for oral health pastes and as animal feed.
They’re great compost if you want to add some nutrients back into the soil of your garden!
Coconut is a magical ingredient and it's no wonder that it's become the king of keto foods for so many keto enthusiasts.