This peculiar fruit with so many uses turns out to be also peculiar at a nutritional level since its composition is very different from most fruits. We can consume both the water inside and its pulp. In Asia and North America, coconut water is more widely accepted, while in some European countries fresh coconut is more in demand.
Water, lipids and minerals
In addition to water, which is the main component of its pulp, since it represents 45% of its composition, coconut is made up of fat, around 35%, most of it saturated. Carbohydrates, specifically sugars, represent 5-6% of the total and proteins constitute 3-4% of its composition. On the other hand, it contains between 9 and 10% fiber. Regarding micronutrients, we can highlight the mineral content it has: potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium and, in terms of vitamins, B vitamins , vitamin E and carotenoids.
How to take it
We can consume coconut water (the liquid that this fruit has inside). There is also coconut milk, but we should not be confused, in this case we are talking about the crushed pulp mixed with water and / or milk. We also consume fresh coconut, its meat itself, in fact it is one of the typical foods of the food stalls at fairs. It can be consumed as is, but also, both domestically and industrially it can be used to make pastries and sweets and also in the kitchen together with savory dishes. Asian cuisine uses it a lot to season a multitude of dishes, while in Europe its consumption is more common as a dessert, forming part of countless sweets.
On many occasions, vegetable oils such as coconut or palm are used to make products in which in the list of ingredients we can only read “vegetable oil”, that’s right, but it is these oils that have no nutritional comparison with the olive or sunflower oil. They are cheaper products that provide us with saturated fats unlike most vegetable oils.
Who are they suitable for and who are not?
They are recommended for people with:
- High energy needs: being a fatty food, a small amount of it provides us with a good amount of calories. Therefore it can be used as a sporadic snack in people with high energy requirements such as children, adolescents or athletes. Its commercialization dehydrated is interesting to carry, for example in endurance tests or in mountaineering.
- Constipation: being rich in fiber and water it favors intestinal transit, but its tannin content with astringent power counteracts this effect a little, causing it to help regulate intestinal transit. It is suitable, therefore, in case of constipation and diarrhea.
- Bone demineralization: it is a food that we can use as a specific supplement in people with bone demineralization problems due to its content of minerals that participate in the mineralization of bones.
They are not suitable in case of:
- Cardiovascular problems: excessive intake of saturated fat is related to an increase in blood cholesterol levels. As in coconut saturated fats predominate in its composition, its consumption must be punctual and it must be limited especially in people who suffer from problems related to cardiovascular health .
- Digestive difficulties: especially if the brown skin that covers the pulp is consumed, the coconut can be difficult to digest due to its high fiber content. It is best avoided at night and in people with digestive problems.
Buying and conservation advice
We must choose aromatic specimens that sound like water, because if there is almost no water left inside, they may be too ripe and their pulp may already be somewhat rancid. On the other hand, we will make sure that the crust is whole, as the breaks may have caused both water and juiciness to be lost and microorganisms to have entered.
While the coconut is whole, it can be kept for a long time, it could even last a couple of months, and it is kept at room temperature. Once we open it, the ideal would be to keep it refrigerated and better in a container with water so it does not dehydrate.
It is not a food that we should abuse because it is energetic and fundamentally provides us with saturated fats.
MAPFRE’s Health Insurance includes a Telephone Nutrition Assistant service, through which a team specialized in nutrition can guide you in a personalized way on this and other issues.
The recipe: Wheat with mushrooms, pine nuts, carrots and coconut milk
- 120-140 g of wheat
- 250 g of assorted mushrooms
- 3 carrots
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200 ml of coconut milk
- A handful of pine nuts to taste
- Olive oil, salt, coriander (you can also use ginger and turmeric if you want more spice)
Boil the tender wheat al dente and reserve. Clean and julienne the carrot and garlic. Sauté the garlic and carrot with a few drops of olive oil, add the mushrooms and finally the pine nuts and coconut milk. Lower the heat and let the coconut milk evaporate somewhat. Add the wheat and sauté again, now all together, finish dressing to taste and ready to serve!
- Season: it is typical of tropical areas so we can have it all year round.
- Benefits: energetic and rich in fiber and minerals such as potassium and vitamins such as E.
- Ideal for: endurance athletes, as a sporadic snack.