Eating Coconuts Can Change Your Health


I have a question about coconut butter: Is the butter simply desiccated coconut made into butter? I guess my real question is if desiccated coconut has the same nutritional profile as coconut butter/oil.

Dr. Doug’s Answer:

There is some discrepancy as to what coconut butter actually is. Some people refer to coconut oil as coconut butter since it can have a similar consistency to butter at certain temperatures. On the other hand, some products sold as “coconut butter” are actually a combination of coconut flesh and coconut oil that’ve been blended together to make more of a spread. It may be just blended desiccated coconut (the coconut flakes you see in the baking section), as you suggested. Some products have some coconut oil added in (or left in) to allow for a more spread-like, buttery consistency.

Desiccated coconut doesn’t quite have the same nutritional properties as coconut oil, since it has a little protein and carbohydrates as well as fat (whereas coconut oil is obviously only fat). That being said, you will get the beneficial saturated fats from both the oil and the dried coconut flakes.

It’s similar to distinguishing peanut oil from peanut butter. Peanut butter is just blended peanuts, so it will have some peanut oil in it, but peanut oil is just the oil isolated from the rest of the nut. If you’re looking for the fat, you’re going to get more of it from the oil rather than the butter.

And why would you want more of the fats from coconut oil? The fats in coconuts are mostly medium-chain fatty acids. They are, in fact, nature’s richest source for these fats. They don’t require lipoproteins or special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body like long-chain fats do, meaning they’re great for quick energy burning. And, since they’re saturated fats, they’re very heat stable and can be used for high-temperature cooking.

Outside of mother’s milk, coconut oil is the highest source of lauric acid, a fat that helps to strengthen the immune system. Overall, the beneficial fats in coconut oil promote heart health, weight loss (if needed) through healthy stimulation of the metabolism, provide an immediate energy boost, help keep skin healthy and youthful looking and support proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

So whether you’re eating coconut oil, coconut butter, desiccated coconut or whole coconuts, you’re doing your body a favor. Good thing, too, because it’s delicious!

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.

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