Is Coconut For Breakfast Healthy?
As per the “Coconut Diet” consuming at least one serving of coconut in each meal of the day, including breakfast, can help one lead a healthier lifestyle. However, coconuts are famous for their high fat content and potential to add high amounts of calories to the diet. So, is consuming coconuts for breakfast a healthy practice or, should one reconsider their dietary habits? Read on for the pros and cons of eating breakfast coconuts…
Coconuts are available in several forms (including tender coconut, coconut jelly, desiccated coconut, coconut meal, etc.), plus various coconut products are regularly used for preparing morning meals (coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut cream, etc.) For ease of discussion, we would be considering the nutrient profile of fresh coconut meat.
Total calories – 354 kcal
Total Fat – 33 g
Saturated Fat - 29.7 g
Total carbohydrates – 15 gm
Free Sugars – 6.2 gm
Dietary fiber – 9 gm
Protein – 3 gm
Health benefits of eating Coconuts for breakfast:
· Trove of fatty acids
Coconut meat contains three specific fatty acids, viz., lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. These are medium chain fatty acids, which, promote a healthy lipid profile in the body. Moreover, lauric acid is known for its anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, which helps fight pathogenic organisms, while promoting the growth of probiotic bacteria.
· Gut friendly
Coconuts are a good source of dietary fiber and pre biotic carbohydrates. Dietary fiber adds roughage to the bowel and promotes easy clearance, while resistant starch promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut. These 2 actions together help maintain GI health. With an increasing percentage of population finding it difficult to have a proper morning elimination, consumption of raw coconut meat for breakfast seems like an easy cure.
· Promotes weight loss
Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of coconut meat as a part of a balanced diet helps boost metabolism enough to cause weight loss. Moreover, the high fiber content of these nuts brings in much greater satiety value to the breakfast, which in turn prevents unhealthy mid morning snacking and sugar/fat cravings. These 2 actions together work towards weight loss and maintenance.
· Trove of trace nutrients and essential vitamins
These nuts are a rich source of several nutrients including potassium, manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. These nutrients help manage high blood pressure, boost immunity, improve vision, and prevent progression of CVD.
· Prevents goiter
It is an established fact that can boost thyroid function by up to 20%. Apart from that, coconut meat is not only devoid of any goiterogenic compounds, but also, detoxifies the body off these chemicals to prevent any damage to the thyroid function. A 1930 study showed that regular consumption of coconuts as a part of balanced diet, significantly prevented incidence of goiter in a historically “goiter endemic region.”
Even though, coconuts are healthy, excess consumption can lead to several side effects. One needs to be aware of these before including this nut regularly in their breakfast…
· Can lead to indigestion
Certain minor studies suggest that excessive consumption of raw coconut meat can lead to indigestion exasperation of gastric ulcers. The high fat content of coconut is also believed to aggravate Gastric Esophageal Reflux (GERD) symptoms.
· Can cause weight gain
Coconuts are hypercaloric, that is each gram of coconut can provide over 1 Kcal of energy. Excessive intake of this nutmeat will derail one’s calorie goals and lead to weight gain.
· Allergy warning
The US FDA terms coconuts as a tree nut. People suffering from nut allergies are advised to stay away from any food that contains or comes in contact with coconuts. Coconut allergy can cause symptoms ranging from mild GI distress to near fatal anaphylactic shock.
· CVD risk
Even though, the fatty acids of coconut can help maintain a healthy blood profile, this happens only when coconuts are consumed in moderation as a part of balanced diet. An over indulgence in this nut can increase the overall calorie and fat content of the diet, pushing one into the risk circle of CVD and related diseases.
These side effects, though, are a cause of excessive intake and moderate consumption of coconuts as a part of a balanced diet need not be considered as unhealthy. Coconuts, thus, are not a tainted food. They are quite healthy and one can surely start their day with a coconut. However, it is not a good idea to follow fad diets like Coconut Diet. Over indulgence of any kind is unhealthy and the same is true for this hardy nut.