Just because the coconut is a tropical fruit, doesn’t mean you need to be on a beach to eat it (although it sounds ideal). You can pick it up at almost any grocery store and turn it into so many sweet or savory recipes. You can even drink its water or turn it into milk or oil.
Additionally, are many health benefits to reap when consuming this fruit. However, with all delicious foods, it could also come with precautions. Dietitians Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins and members of our medical expert board, listed some surprising side effects of coconut to consider before your next purchase. After, for more fun with tropical fruits, check out One Major Effect of Eating Papaya, Says Dietitian.
“Coconut is a great source of copper, and although most people aren’t truly deficient in copper, some may not get enough,” says The Nutrition Twins.
Although rare to have a copper deficiency, possible signs include anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures and osteoporosis, low white blood cell count, irregular heartbeat, loss of pigment from the skin, and thyroid problems.
“When you’re low in copper your bone health suffers and eating a lot of coconut will prevent this,” says The Nutrition Twins.
The Nutrition Twins suggest that you would have to replace the other saturated fats in your diet with coconut in order to get the benefit of coconut’s medium-chain triglycerides. These fatty acids can potentially promote weight loss by reducing body fat, increasing fullness, and potentially improving your gut environment.
Try swapping out butter for coconut oil, or using shredded coconut on your salad instead of cheese if you’re looking for alternative methods.
Coconut can help fight against any illness that comes from contaminated food and bacteria. Certain bacteria that can be present include Staphylococcus epidermidis, which can cause wound infections, boils, sinus infections, and other inflammations, and Escherichia coli (E. coli), which can cause severe stomach cramps, often bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.
“Although the research was done in a test tube using coconut oil and water, it seemed protective against the bacteria,” says The Nutrition Twins.
The Nutrition Twins suggest that because the average American only gets 12 grams of fiber a day, when the recommended daily minimum is 25 grams for women and 30 grams for men, coconut can help recommendations to be met.
“A 3.5-ounce serving of coconut provides 9 grams of fiber, so if you’re eating larger quantities, you’ll quickly reach your daily fiber requirement,” they say.
“Most people think of coconut as a healthy, plant food, and typically, when people view a food as ‘healthy,’ they don’t think of it as a problem for the waistline,” says The Nutrition Twins.
Coconut is calorie-dense. When it’s cut up into pieces, you can easily consume over 1,400 calories in coconut and not even realize it.