If the last time you ate coconut was in a fun-size Mounds bar pulled from a trick-or-treat bowl, it’s time to revisit the fruit.
As with avocados, the knock on coconuts was a high fat and calorie profile. Now we know that those are assets. “Coconut is a source of plant-based fat, and fat can promote satiety,” says Katherine Patton, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
And the meat contains MCT oil, or medium-chain triglycerides. That’s the extract that people put in smoothies and coffee. MCT oil has unique benefits. It seems to lower two key hunger hormones, cueing a person to eat less, a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests. And MCTs convert more easily into energy compared with other sources of fat, like animal meat, so athletes consider it workout fuel.
Go to the trouble of eating the meat. Half a cup of shredded coconut has nearly four grams of insoluble fiber, which promotes gut health and blunts blood sugar spikes. And it has 30 percent of your day’s needs for manganese—a key mineral for metabolism and bone formation. Top oatmeal or yogurt with shredded coconut, toss it in fruit salad, or make a treat of dried coconut strips and dark chocolate chips—add almonds if you feel like a nut.