World Coconut Day: Fruit that packs a punch

- September 2, 2023
| By : Tahir Bhat |

Coconut is entrenched in diverse culinary traditions and contains medium-chain triglycerides which have been linked to various health benefits

On this World Coconut Day, the globe united in celebrating the coconut, a versatile tropical fruit earning international acclaim for its remarkable nutritional value. The coconut has firmly entrenched itself in diverse culinary traditions and product offerings while captivating the attention of health-conscious individuals and experts worldwide.

Dietitian and clinical nutritionist, Beenish Zohra while talking to Patriot, shed light on the nutritional facets of this tropical treasure and explained why coconut deserves a revered place in our dietary choices.

A Bounty of Healthy Fats

The coconut distinguishes itself with its abundant saturated fats, primarily in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs, renowned for their ease of digestion, have been linked to various health benefits. Beenish referenced a 2009 study in the “Lipids” journal, which found that MCTs can promote weight loss and improve lipid profiles when integrated into a balanced diet.

Dietary Fibre Delight

Dietitian and Clinical Nutritionist Beenish Zohra

Beenish highlighted that coconut not only provides healthy fats but also offers a generous supply of dietary fibre. She pointed to a 2012 study in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology” suggesting that dietary fibre derived from coconut may hold promise in preventing and managing gastrointestinal disorders, making it a valuable asset for digestive well-being.

Antioxidant Abundance

According to Beenish, coconut contains a wealth of antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and these antioxidants act as guardians, shielding cells from oxidative stress and bolstering overall health.

Mineral and Vitamin Treasure

“Coconut unveils a trove of essential minerals, including potassium, manganese, and copper,” said Beenish, adding that “potassium plays a pivotal role in maintaining proper heart and muscle function, while manganese and copper are vital for enzymatic processes and bone health.

“Additionally, coconut offers vitamins such as C and E, fortifying the immune system and supporting skin health.”

Hydration and Weight Management

The liquid treasure within young green coconuts, coconut water, is a naturally electrolyte-rich elixir that aids in sustaining optimal hydration. Beenish referred to research published in “PLOS ONE” (2015), which demonstrated the effectiveness of coconut water in rehydration after exercise, positioning it as a potential alternative to commercial sports drinks.

Moreover, while coconut is calorie-dense due to its fat content, some studies propose that the MCTs in coconut may induce feelings of fullness and assist in weight management, as discussed in a review in the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” (2015).Nonetheless, Beenish underscores the importance of moderation and balance when incorporating coconut into one’s dietary regimen, especially for individuals monitoring their calorie intake.
Additionally, the health benefits of coconut can vary depending on its form (e.g., coconut oil, coconut milk, shredded coconut) and its role within the broader dietary context. Just as with any dietary choice, moderation and balance remain essential for optimal health, emphasises Beenish Zohra.