Coconut is a tropical fruit loved by many. This article looks closely at the health benefits of coconut, and why you should be eating it.

Its flesh, oil, milk, and water are common ingredients in various recipes worldwide, but especially in the coastal regions where they grow.

What is Coconut?

Scientifically known as Cocos nucifera, the coconut tree is a member of the palm tree family and the only surviving genus of Cocos.

While we associate the word coconut with the nut, it actually refers to the whole coconut tree, including the fruit or seed.

The coconut seed has a hard outer shell and a white, fleshy interior. The meat of the coconut can be shredded or grated and used in many different recipes.

The water inside the coconut is also very refreshing and can be drunk straight from the fruit.

Coconut oil is extracted from the flesh of the coconut and is used in many different health and beauty products.

Where Do Coconuts Come From?

If you are wondering where coconuts come from, they grow in more than 90 countries, with a high production coming from Asia and the Pacific.

Research shows that 80% of the total areas where coconuts are grown accounts for the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand. 

coconuts, coconut milk, and coconut flour on a dark blue background. copy space.

Coconut Nutrition Facts:


Coconut Milk

1 cup (240 grams) contains

Coconut Water

1 cup (240 grams)


Coconut Oil

1 cup (218 grams)


Coconut Meat

1 cup (80 grams)







5 grams

1.7 grams


3 grams


13 grams

9 grams


10 grams


57 grams

0.5 grams

189 grams

27 grams



6 grams


5 grams


5 grams

2.6 grams


7 grams


110% of the DV

   15% of the DV


60% of the DV


21% of the DV

4% of the DV


15% of the DV


32% of the DV

11% of the DV


44% of the DV


24% of the DV

4% of the DV


12% of the DV


22% of the DV

3% of the DV


11% of the DV


18% of the DV

17% of the DV


6% of the DV


11% of the DV

2% of the DV


10% of the DV


22% of the DV

15% of the DV


6% of the DV

Vitamin C

11% of the DV

9% of the DV


4% of the DV


10% of the DV

2% of the DV


5% of the DV


5% of the DV

5% of the DV


1% of the DV


2.5% of the DV

10%  of the DV


1% of the DV

Vitamin B6

5% of the DV

5% of the DV


4% of the DV

coconut tree with young coconuts growing

Health Benefits of Coconut

Besides being delicious, coconut is rich in beneficial nutrients that have been shown to promote good health and even prevent some chronic conditions. 

1. Can lower blood pressure:

One of the most notable benefits of coconut is its ability to lower blood pressure. This is because coconut is rich in various nutrients that are essential for lowering blood pressure, including:

i. Potassium

Coconut water is an excellent source of potassium, an essential mineral for regulating blood pressure levels. Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium, which includes increasing blood pressure when there’s too much of it in the blood.

Potassium also helps relax the blood vessels by relieving tension on the blood vessel walls. This, in turn, will cause the smooth muscles within the vessel walls to relax and the peripheral vascular resistance to reduce, which causes the blood to flow more freely, thus causing a drop in blood pressure.

ii. Healthy fats

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation, which can otherwise contribute to high blood pressure.

lab study found that giving MCTs to mice increased bile acid excretion, which resulted in reduced cholesterol.

Another study found that obese women consuming coconut oil in a low-calorie diet reduced bad cholesterol while improving good cholesterol compared to those that took soybean oil.

That being said, some studies have shown mixed findings, which calls for more human studies to confirm these benefits.

For instance, a study on young, healthy men found that MCT supplements increased both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, both of which are known to increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

iii. High fiber content

Coconut meat and flour are rich in dietary fiber, which has been linked to lower blood pressure levels. Fiber helps regulate digestion and absorption of nutrients, including those that affect blood pressure, such as potassium.

iv. Antioxidant properties

Coconuts contain antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, which help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation – two contributors to hypertension. The most identified phenolic compounds in coconut include gallic acid and caffeic acid.

2. Coconut can fight bacterial infections

Coconut is rich in lauric acid, a saturated medium-chain fatty acid with many beneficial properties, including fighting infections.

Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, which is many times more effective in fighting bacteria and viruses than lauric acid.

It does this by destroying the lipid membrane of bacteria which can help it fight off a wide range of infections.

Research shows that coconut oil can effectively destroy various strains of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumonia. Coconut oil can also help protect against fungal infections like Candida Albicans.

Coconut water is another great source of infection-fighting compounds. It contains cytokinins, which are phytohormones or plant hormones with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

These compounds may help reduce inflammation caused by infections and support overall immune function.

Overall, adding more coconut to your diet may be an excellent way to boost your immunity and protect against infectious diseases.

3. Healthy digestive system

Coconuts are a good source of insoluble fiber, the kind that doesn’t dissolve in water but can help bulk the stool and promote bowel movement and regularity. This can help prevent constipation and conditions associated with it, like hemorrhoids.

A cup of fresh shredded coconut meat can provide up to 7 grams of fiber, which can help boost your daily fiber intake.

Coconut is also high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digested and absorbed into the body to provide energy to the cells lining your digestive system. This can help strengthen your gut barrier, thus preventing harmful pathogens from invading.

Also, MCTs have antimicrobial properties and can kill off any harmful bacteria in your gut.

Refreshing coconut water in a small bottle and coconuts on a blue background.

Additionally, the various medium-chain fatty acids in coconut, including lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, have been shown to offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

These can help fight or improve inflammatory conditions of the digestive system, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Finally, coconut can boost your gut health by balancing your gut flora. The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, both good and bad.

Good gut bacteria are known as probiotics, and when they are high in number, they suppress the harmful ones, thus preventing diseases, promoting digestion, and boosting the immune system.

Probiotics also help produce certain essential nutrients like vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, folate, B12, and K2.

4. It may enhance weight loss

Losing weight can be an uphill task for some people; however, research shows that adding coconut to your diet can help.

For one, the MCTs in coconut are processed differently than the long-chain fatty acids. MCTs are digested easily and converted for use as energy instead of being stored. This can promote efficient use of energy in the body, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day.

Some research shows that a portion of MCTs in coconut oil are converted into ketones, which you could be familiar with from the context of ketogenic diets. Ketones can boost weight loss by altering your hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin.

Coconut can also boost weight loss by suppressing your appetite. For example, consuming a meal with coconut oil can reduce your appetite, causing you to eat less than you usually would and still feel full.

As a result, you’ll end up consuming fewer calories than you actually need, which may prompt the body to burn stored energy, thus causing weight loss.

5. It may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory, thinking, behavior, and social skills, making it difficult to perform even the simplest tasks.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.7 million Americans over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s as of 2023. 

While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are still exploring various ways to prevent its occurrence or slow its progression. One such way might be through coconut oil.

The MCTs in coconut oil are digested into ketones in the liver, and ketones are a good source of energy for the brain cells. This can help them function properly as well as prevent their degeneration.

While more research is needed to confirm this benefit, some experts recommend taking a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil 2-3 times daily to improve the symptoms.

6. It may help control blood sugar levels

The effects of coconut oil in controlling blood sugar levels have been gaining popularity, which can be quite beneficial for those dealing with uncontrolled sugars in diabetes and any other condition that affects blood glucose levels.

Again, MCTs in coconut oil are the main reason behind this benefit. MCTs are metabolized differently from other types of fats, which can actually increase insulin sensitivity.

In a 2007 study, MCTs were shown to improve insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. This can help the body better regulate blood sugar levels.

Lauric acid in coconut oil can also fight chronic inflammation, which can also be essential for combating diabetes.

7. It may promote skin health

Coconut oil was traditionally used as a moisturizer by people from tropical regions. This is because it can moisturize deeply, helping your skin stay moist for an extended period.

However, coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it can clog your pores. This makes it unsuitable for oily skin, as it can worsen existing acne.

Besides that, coconut oil contains skin-nourishing properties that have made it a popular, effective, and affordable natural remedy for various skin ailments

The antifungal and antibacterial properties of lauric acid can help combat acne and fight off any harmful bacteria causing breakouts. It can also fight inflammation and soothe sensitive and irritated skin.

Coconut oil is also rich in antioxidants that can help fight free radicals that might damage the skin and cause premature aging.

8. It’s good for hair

Thanks to its numerous hair benefits, coconut oil is a popular ingredient in most skin care products, including moisturizers, shampoos, and deep conditioners.

It can moisturize the air, stimulate growth and prevent scalp conditions like dandruff.

Coconut products - mct butter, oil, milk, oil, shavings on grey background.

Potential Side Effects:

Coconut is a superfood with numerous proven benefits; however, too much of it may have potential side effects like:

1. High in calories and saturated fats

For instance, coconut oil is high in calories and saturated fat. Saturated fat is the kind of fat that solidifies at room temperature and has been shown to increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

And although coconut contains a unique type of medium-chain fatty acid that can lower cholesterol, experts recommend limiting your saturated fat intake to not more than 10% of your total calories.

For reference, 100 grams of coconut oil contains 87 grams of saturated fats, while a tablespoon can offer about 14 grams, which equals about 117 calories. That’s a lot if you’re going to consume more than a tablespoon.

The American Heart Association recommends taking less than a tablespoon per day alongside a healthy diet.

2. Abdominal discomfort

Another downside of coconut, especially coconut oil, is that too many MCTs can cause digestive issues like bloating and cramping when taken in excess.

Besides the oil, too much intake of coconut water may cause diarrhea in some individuals due to the high potassium levels. It may also cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low, especially if you are on blood sugar medications.

3. Hyperkalemia

Too much potassium in coconut water can also lead to hyperkalemia, a condition where you have high than normal serum potassium levels. This can be life-threatening, resulting in palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Final Thoughts

The health benefits of coconut are numerous and impressive. From boosting heart health to promoting weight loss, improving digestion, and enhancing skin and hair health, coconut is a superfood that should be included in everyone’s diet.

With its unique combination of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it provides many essential nutrients that our body needs to function optimally.

Whether you prefer coconut oil, milk, water, or flesh as part of your diet or beauty routine – there’s no denying the incredible power of this versatile tropical fruit. 

That being said, some coconut products like coconut oil and water should be had in moderation.

More About Coconut:

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