See also Nuts.
Energy value (calories per serving): High
Saturated fat: High Cholesterol: None Carbohydrates: Low Fiber: High
Major vitamin contribution:
B vitamins, vitamin C
Major mineral contribution: Iron, potassium, phosphorus
About the Nutrients in This Food
Coconut is high in fiber, but its most plentiful nutrient is fat, the oil that accounts for 85 percent of the calories in coconut meat. Coconut oil, which is 89 percent saturated fatty acids, is the most highly saturated dietary fat (see but ter, v egeta ble oils).
One piece of fresh coconut, 2” × 2”× 1/2”, has four grams dietar y fiber and 15 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 0.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat). Like other nuts and seeds, coconut is a good source of some minerals, including 1.1 mg iron (6 percent of the R DA for a woman, 14 percent of the R DA for a man), 0. 5 mg zinc (6 percent of the R DA for a woman, 5 percent of the R DA for a man), and 4. 5 mg selen ium ( 8 percent of the R DA).
The Most Nutritious Way to Serve This Food
In small servings, as a condiment.
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
Low-fiber, low-residue diet
Buying This Food
Look for: Coconuts that are heavy for their size. You should be able to hear the liquid sloshing around inside when you shake a coconut; if you don’t, the coconut has dried out. Avoid nuts with a wet “eye” (the dark spots at the top of the nut) or with mold anywhere on the shell.
Storing This Food
Store whole fresh coconuts in the refrigerator and use them within a week.
Shredded fresh coconut should be refrigerated in a covered container and used in a day or so while it is still fresh and moist.
Refrigerate dried, shredded coconut in an air- and moistureproof container once you have opened the can or bag.
Preparing This Food
Puncture one of the “eyes” of the coconut with a sharp, pointed tool. Pour out the liquid. Then crack the coconut by hitting it with a hammer in the middle, where the shell is widest. Continue around the nut until you have cracked the shell in a circle around the middle and can separate the two halves. Pry the meat out of the shell.
To shred coconut meat, break the shell into small pieces, peel off the hard shell and the brown papery inner covering, then rub the meat against a regular food grater.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
Toasting caramelizes sugars on the surface of the coconut meat and turns it golden. Toasting also reduces the moisture content of the coconut meat, concentrating the nutrients.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Drying. Drying concentrates all the nutrients in coconut. Unsweetened dried shredded coconut has about twice as much protein, fat, carbohydrate, iron, and potassium as an equal amount of fresh coconut. (Sweetened dried shredded coconut has six times as much sugar.)
Coconut milk and cream. Coconut cream is the liquid wrung out of fresh coconut meat; coco- nut milk is the liquid wrung from fresh coconut meat that has been soaked in water; coconut water is the liquid in the center of the whole coconut. Coconut milk and cream are high in fat, coconut water is not. All coconut liquids should be refrigerated if not used immediately.
Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
Increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Foods high in saturated fats increase the risk of heart attack from clogged arteries.
Allergic reaction. According to the Merck Manual, nuts are one of the 12 foods most likely to trigger the classic food allergy symptoms: hives, swelling of the lips and eyes, and upset stomach. The others are berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), choco- late, corn, eggs fish, legumes (green peas, lima beans, peanuts, soybeans), milk, peaches, pork, shellfish, and wheat (see wheat cer ea ls).