Coconut, coconut oil and coconut milk, are they all healthy?

The vegetable drinks are hot. Given the growing interest in a balanced and healthy diet, the intake of these beverages has increased in industrialized societies. The coconut is a tropical fruit that is taken mainly in the form of fresh fruit, dried and in preparations of confectionery (like grated coconut). In recent years, along with the success of the fruit itself, has also grown the consumption of coconut oil and coconut milk. But what properties do they have? Are they nutritionally recommendable? In the following article, these questions have answers.

The coconut

Coconut, compared to other fruits, has a moderate content in water (the rest of fruits have an average 85%), a slightly higher content in proteins and slightly poorer in carbohydrates. But above all, in its composition highlights the high amount of fats it brings, when the rest of fruits hardly have them. In detail, its nutritional contribution per 100 grams is as follows:

Energy: 353 Kcal.
Water: 45 g.
Proteins: 3.4 g.
Fat: 35.1 g.
Saturated fat: 29.3 g.
Monounsaturated fat: 2.2 g.
Polyunsaturated grease: 1.6 g.
Cholesterol: 0 g.
Carbohydrate: 5.9 g.
Fiber: 9.5 g.

Oil or coconut butter: high in saturated fat

Fat from this fruit is usually in the form of white or ivory dough. Its consistency is pasty or fluid, depending on the ambient temperature. This food, like all vegetable oils or fats, has a high caloric content (it contributes 899 Kcal per 100 g of food) and in fats (99.8 g in 100 g of food). However, the lipid profile of this food differs significantly from other vegetable oils, such as olive oil or sunflower oil. Thus, coconut butter is mostly rich in saturated fat. In 100 g of butter, there are 87 g of saturated fat, 5.8 g of monounsaturated fat and 1.8 g of polyunsaturated fat.

Regarding the type of saturated fatty acids present in the oil or coconut butter, coconut fat is one of the food sources of medium-chain fatty acids (shorter chains of carbon atoms), since it is rich in caprylic acid (8 carbon atoms), capric (10) and especially lauric acid (12). It is also a food source of myristic acid (14) and palmitic acid (16), all of which are saturated fats.

Coconut milk, a caloric and fatty ingredient

Because Asian cuisine is in fashion, coconut milk is increasingly being used as an ingredient in many preparations. This drink comes from the zest of dry coconut mixed with water. The nutritional contribution per 100 ml of this vegetable liquid, or cooking ingredient, is as follows: 170 Kcal, 17.5 g of fat (of which 15.1 g are saturated fats) and 2.9 g of carbohydrates. So, it is a very caloric drink and rich in fat, especially saturated.

Are these foods nutritionally recommendable?

The effect that different types of fats can have on the health of people is a subject that has been studied for a long time. Saturated fat (the one formed by fatty acids of chains of carbon atoms without any double bond between them) has been related to an increase in the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and an increase in the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases.

Although it is being investigated whether different types of saturated fats could have a different effect on the body, it seems that the intake of lauric, myristic and palmitic acids raises the levels of total cholesterol, LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and HDL (” Good cholesterol”); while stearic acid (18 carbon atoms) appears to be likely to have a minor hypercholesterolemic effect. But, some studies suggest a positive link between of virgin coconut oil and cholesterol. However, for lack of further analysis to clarify whether some type of saturated fat is more harmful than another, at the moment the prudence indicates that it should be further recommended to exclude foods rich in saturated fat. Thus, given the high incidence of cardiovascular disease in society, at least as a precaution, it should be avoided to abuse saturated fat-rich foods, among which are the oil or lard and coconut milk.

However, to the surprise of dietician-nutritionists, coconut milk and oil are now being promoted on different websites for their possible effect on reducing body weight. Is it possible to think that such a caloric should be used to lose weight? Maybe. As a recommendation, if you enjoy them occasionally in any recipe, you should not worry, since in diet and health the bad thing is not the food, but its frequency of consumption.