With a history dating back thousands of years in the western Pacific, coconut has served a pivotal role as a food source in tropical regions, Plant Cultures explains. Although smashing through the thick, outer husk of a coconut might seem like a daunting task, the flavorful meat inside could be well worth the effort: Raw coconut offers a spectrum of benefits to nourish your body while delighting your tongue.
Raw coconut is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, a type of dietary fat that may encourage weight loss. According to an article published in the June 2006 edition of the Ceylon Medical Journal, medium-chain triglycerides convert into monoglycerides and medium-chain free fatty acids during digestion–two substances your body uses immediately for energy rather than storing as fat. In addition to their metabolism-boosting properties, medium-chain triglycerides may curb hunger more effectively than other forms of fat, leading to a lower calorie intake over time. As a result, the specific fats in raw coconut may promote a healthy body weight and help you shed unwanted pounds.
Raw coconut is rich in dietary fiber, with one cup of shredded meat yielding 7 grams, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. As the April 2009 issue of “Nutrition Reviews” explains, diets rich in fiber can boost health by normalizing bowel movements, reducing your risk of hemorrhoids, preventing blood sugar swings, lowering blood pressure, providing long-lasting satiation that discourages overeating, protecting against diabetes and even boost your immune system. In addition, the fiber in raw coconut may improve your cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of low-density lipoprotein–or LDL–cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Several substances in raw coconut may boost immune function and help your body fight disease. According to Coconut Connections, specific fats found in coconut meat–including caprylic, capric and lauric fatty acids–are antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal, helping to bolster your immune system and destroy pathogens. Monolaurin, a substance abundant in coconut fat, may be particularly useful for combating viruses, and essential fatty acids in coconut may help control a form of yeast overgrowth known as candida, Coconut Connections notes.
A serving of fresh coconut meat provides high levels of several minerals, helping you increase the nutritional value of your diet. The USDA notes that a cup of shredded coconut contains 60 percent of your recommended daily intake of manganese, 17 percent for copper, 11 percent for selenium, 11 percent for potassium, 10 percent for iron, 9 percent for phosphorus, 6 percent for magnesium and 5 percent for zinc. Together, these minerals help you maintain normal body functions and promote health.