Crazy for Coconuts: Health Benefits & 5 Delicious Coconut-Based Recipes


Published: April 28, 2015

Coconut rice, roasted corn and coconut, coconut and wet cassava chips, coconut water, you name it, Nigerians know to enjoy coconut. Turns out, they offer superb health benefits too!

Coconut has long since been known to be a concentrated source of saturated fat, the type of fat thought to contribute to obesity and heart disease. For this reason, it has often been discouraged in the diets of people looking to make positive changes in their eating habits. The tide is changing and now more than ever, health enthusiasts are loading up on this popular Nigerian staple and using it in the kitchen. From baked goods to smoothies, refreshing beverages and stir-fry’s, coconut is certainly making its mark in the health food arena. Turns out, although high in fat, it has a multitude of health benefits and coconut milk, flour and oil are rapidly becoming staples in kitchens throughout the world.

Coconut Oil

  • Contains MUFA’s: Coconut oil is a great source of Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s), a type of fat that reduces risk for heart disease.   The Mayo Clinic, a leading authority in health in the USA states that including MUFA’s in your diet may also improve the health of blood vessels and improve overall blood sugar control, a key driver of health in people who suffer from diabetes.
  • May improve heart health: When lab rats were given regular servings of coconut oil, their levels of good cholesterol increased while the bad cholesterol and harmful triglyceride levels decreased. Human studies comparing consumption of soya oil and coconut oil concluded that cholesterol levels did not increase in those that consumed coconut. Turns out the saturated fat in coconut may actually be beneficial for heart health. Further studies on this benefit are currently underway.
  • May be good for the brain: When MUFA’s are processed in the liver, they form ketones, a product made when the body does not produce enough insulin. Ketones are being studies in the treatment of brain disorders such as Epilepsy and Alzheimer ‘disease Results are still variable but some claim to see positive improvements in the brain health of loved ones with the addition of virgin, unprocessed coconut oil.
  • Trims the waistline. A study published in the ISRN Pharmacology and Lipids concluded that people who consumed 30ml of coconut oil per day experienced a 5% increase in daily energy expenditure and decreased their overall abdominal fat percentages.
  • Kills harmful bacteria and viruses: Lauric acid, another component of coconut oil is known to have healing properties as it hosts disease fighting antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Coconut Meat


Sure, the flesh of the coconut is always delicious by itself or accompanied by a dab of chilli pepper and squirt of lime juice. Yes, we use the decussated form in puddings, cakes and other sweet favorites but bakers have found a new value for coconut in their kitchens, Due to its low gluten properties and moist nature, bakers are drying coconut meat and making a tasty high fiber, healthier replacement for white processed flour.

Coconut Water


Western supermarkets have discovered the refreshing taste of coconut water and more people are reaching for it as an alternative to higher calories, sugary fizzy drinks. Coconut water is a good source of electrolytes and more recently, it has emerged as the ultimate replenishment beverage for the hard working athlete. Proponents argue that is the best way to replenish because it is 100% natural, higher in potassium and lower in sodium than the branded sports drinks. But beware, coconut water is not calorie free and can easy negate the effects of a challenging bout of exercise.

5 Delicious Coconut Recipes


Coconut-Pineapple-Spinach Smoothie
Coconut Chicken Curry
Coconut Granola Bar
Coconut Quinoa Bar
Coconut Semolina Porridge

Beyond health, coconut still has a place on the beauty counter. From moisturizing to cleansing and adding shine, it is an ultimate tool that every woman should have on her dresser. Talk about having your coconut and eating it too!!

Here’s to your health!

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About Cordialis Msora-Kasago

Cordialis Msora-Kasago is a Registered Dietitian (R.D) and a pioneer in the discussion of modern day healthy lifestyles in Africa. She is the founder of The African Pot Nutrition - an organization that improves the health of African people through sustainable diet and lifestyle programs. Follow her on twitter @africadietitian.

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