Coconut

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 28. May. 2020

While coconuts are high in calories, they are packed with healthy fats and other valuable nutrients that make a healthy and delicious addition or foundation for both sweet and savory dishes alike.

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Coconuts...

  • ...are easy to digest. The body can break down and process the fatty acids present in coconuts particularly easily and quickly.
  • ...are a good exercise food. With its high potassium content and slew of other minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, a snack of dried or fresh coconut before hitting the gym can increase endurance and performance.
  • ...are rich in fiber. Just 100 grams of coconut contains 9 grams of fiber, almost a third of the daily requirement. Fiber supports good digestion and ensures good, long-lasting satiety.
  • ...supports blood health. 100 grams of coconut contains a good 2,200 micrograms of iron - which is equivalent to 18 percent of the average daily requirement. Iron is particularly important for the adequate formation of red blood cells.
  • ...contain essential B viamins. Although not in huge quantities, coconuts contain all the vitamins of the B group, most notably biotin, which helps keep nails, hair and skin looking its best.
  • ...are very caloric. If you’re trying to lose weight, limit your intake of coconut. Its flesh is packed with calories and fat.
  • ...contain few carbohydrates. Coconuts contain only 4.8 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams.

What You Should Know About Coconuts

In the countries where they’re grown, coconuts are an important culinary staple. Among other things, coconut milk is used in sweet and savoury dishes, as is shredded coconut and, last but not least, coconut oil. One coconut palm generally bears only 60 coconuts per year, so coconut plantations generally contain hundreds of the trees to meet demand.

While a single coconut can weigh up to 5.5 kilograms, no matter how big it is, the structure is always the same: under a green or light brown waterproof skin (which is removed immediately after harvesting) you’ll find the typica husky fiber. The shell is very hard, but if you crack it, you’ll access the fruit’s precious flesh and water. 

In many countries, coconuts are used for much for than food. The rough fibers of its shell are often transformed into everyday objects, such as floor mats or carved home decorations. The residue produced from oil pressing is also used as animal feed and fertilizer.

Origins

The coconut's original home is shrouded in mystery: coconuts grow mainly near the sea and, when they plop into the water, can drift thousands of miles across the oceans while still remaining germinable. For years, this made it difficult to tell the exact origins of the coconut. However it is now assumed that the coconut originates from a tropical group of islands called Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean. Today, the largest coconut groves and exporters exist in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Ivory Coast, the Philippines, the West Indies and the Dominican Republic.

Season

Fresh coconut is imported year round, so you should be able to find it in your supermarket or specialty foods store no matter the time of years.

Flavor

While coconut candies give the impression that coconuts are sweet, when eaten fresh and raw, its snow-white flesh actually has a mild, nutty taste. The coconut water inside, on the other hand, has a more sweet, floral flavor. 

Find all our coconut recipes here.

How Healthy Are Coconuts?

Coconuts have plenty of healthy vegetable fats and dietary fibers, and are rich in potassium, 

with around 380 milligrams per 100 gram serving. Among other things, this mineral helps keep you hydrated and supports muscle and nerve health.

Despite its health benefits, the coconut should be avoided by those trying to lose weight. Its flesh is incredibly high in calories and fat. 

Coconut Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 363
Protein 3.9 g
Fat 36.5 g
Carbohydrates 4.8 g
Fiber 9 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

While shopping for fresh coconut, always do the shake test. The more water you hear inside, the younger and more delicious it is. If you don't anything, the coconut isn’t suitable for consumption, as the liquid has already solidified and left the flesh with a soapy flavor.

Storage

Fresh coconuts tolerate a somewhat substantial storage time. They’ll keep for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Preparation

While cracking open a fresh coconut sounds intimidating, with the right tools it’s incredibly easy.  All you need is  a hard, pointed object - preferably a screwdriver - a hammer and a sharp kitchen knife. With the screwdriver, enlarge the two overgrown "eyes" and let the coconut water run off into a cup. Now beat the pointed side of the hammer into the middle of the cup, until a long crack is formed that can be easily opened. Now seperate the two pieces of the shell, and remove the fragrant flesh with a sharp knife. 

What To Make With Coconut

Fresh coconut meat tastes especially good served raw as a tropical snack. But you can also cut it into fine cubes, strips or slices and of course grate or microplane it. When finely chopped, coconut goes wonderfully well with fruit salads, desserts, cakes and tarts.

Coconut is also an exotic highlight in tropical dishes such as an Indian vegetable-rice pan or the noble Goa shrimp pot. Fresh coconut can also be used to conjure up sophisticated curries - whether vegetarian as in okra curry or as fish curry, which is decoratively arranged in the coconut. The coconut water from the fresh coconut can be used as a basis for cocktails, creams and sauces or simply drunk well chilled.

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