Coconut: Superfood and Best Friend

February 4, 2012 in Categories: by

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Coconut is the Paleo enthusiast’s best friend (or at least one of them). Unlike most tree nuts, coconut does not contain omega six fatty acids.  Instead, coconut is rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a very special “short”-chain saturated fat (unlike the longer saturated fatty acids typically found in animal fat).  MCTs do not require bile salts for digestion.  They diffuse passively from the intestines into the blood and do not require modification before being used as energy for your cells.  They are metabolized very easily and, because they are a fat and not a sugar, they can be used by your cells for energy without a spike in your insulin. Also, because MCTs are a saturated fat, they do not oxidize easily or produce free-radicals.  Coconut oil is very stable and will keep at room temperature for very long periods of time.

Coconut is also a rich source of manganese, a mineral necessary for enzymes that work to protect the body from and repair damage caused by free radicals.  Copper, iron and selenium are also found in good quantities in coconut, as are calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc to a lesser degree.  Coconut is a fairly good source of many B-vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid.  Coconut is also a source of vitamins C and E, phytosterols, and fiber.

Coconut has long been recognized for its ability to boost the immune system, and act as an antibiotic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial (basically small things that might make you sick don’t like coconut).  It is even believed that a few times daily dose of coconut is one of the best things you can do to restore healthy gut flora (I don’t think there are any studies proving this though).  It should be noted though that coconut does contain some phytic acid (although much, much lower than most tree nuts), which can be a problem for some people struggling with auto-immune issues.

Best of all, coconut is versatile.  I have no less than 7 different coconut products in my home at all times.  For cooking and baking, extra virgin coconut oil (which has a delightful coconut flavor) and naturally refined coconut oil (which has very little coconut flavor) are essential!  I bake with unsweetened shredded coconut fairly frequently as well as unsweetened coconut flakes.  Actually, coconut flakes are one of my Go To snacks (there is such a thing as the coconut intermittent fast in paleo circles where you skip a meal but eat some coconut or coconut oil to help lose weight and increases insulin sensitivity).  Coconut Milk and Creamed Coconut (which can sometimes be used interchangeably) are wonderful for soups, curries, smoothies, custards and paleo baking of many varieties.  And finally, coconut flour (which is mostly fiber) is a very useful tool for paleo baking and thickening sauces and is a staple for every paleo kitchen.

Some of my favorite recipes using coconut: Simple Chocolate Coconut Squares, Almond Coconut Bars, Coconut Milk Kefir “Yogurt”, and Homemade Coconut Milk. Enjoy!


Seems to be working for me. Are you logged into Facebook in another tab on your browser? You could also copy the URL and post directly into your FB status update. Thanks for sharing!!!!

Hello paleo mum,
I’m seriously considering making the transition to paleo, and as a first step ordered biona organic raw virgin coconut oil. Is this a good source?

I’m confused…I thought shredded coconut was your go-to snack? It doesn’t bother you? You mentioned you have a hard time with whole coconut.

Where do you find the unsweetened flakes and shreds? I thought I read on here (somewhere, but maybe on another site) that you can find it at trader joes. I didn’t have luck, actually they didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. I enjoy you site…so much good information.

Sarah, what exactly is the difference between unrefined and refined coconut oil? I see so many opinions on this — how one is better than the other, how you should avoid one or the other.. What are your thoughts?

Unrefined has more vitamins and antioxidants, but more of a coconut flavor. Even natural refining (which I’m hazy on the details of exactly how it’s done) strips out most of the flavor but also lots of the micronutrients.

Can you make your own coconut butter? I’ve purchased it at Whole Foods before, but it’s very expensive and I’d like to make my own. Also, Whole Foods is also a LONG way from my house. Thanks!

I’m just learning the paleo diet. I have a really bad gut. IBS since 9th grade 45 y/o now. Has only gotten worse. All the tests in the world have not been able to answer questions about my gut and digestion pangs and issues. I’m gluten free and have been encouraged to go paleo. I have just gotten the book paleo for Dummies. What advise would suggest as I ease into this diet in which I am already seeing good results? I am a retired Nurse Educator, I have done so much research that I am exhausted in trying to find answers since my docs have written me off to Mayo. I am determined to heal naturally. Any help would be appreciated! Deborah

We made coconut butter once on accident. We were playing a game where you threw the coconut through the hoops. After about 30 kids got finished, the next one threw it and it broke open and the liquid was in butter consistency….. is that the same thing? We were scared to eat it! We just tossed it.

I’m not sure how that would happen in an unopened coconut. Coconut butter is made by processing the meat until it is thick and creamy, and does not use the liquid from the coconut at all. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

How about the green coconut, found in tropical countries? Are they okay either? Because I love coconut water!

Is it possible to consume TOO much coconut oil? It’s my go-to oil for everything in cooking, and I’ve read some people have weird side effects when they use too much. I don’t keep track, but I’d say I’ve used up to a cup or more a day in cooking. It’s not all consumed, but just wondering.

Some people are sensitive to it, and it’s never a bad idea to switch up the foods you use every now and then. But if it doesn’t seem to bother you, that’s fine. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Sara, what are your thoughts on coconut sugar? I am currently on the AIP but have used it in the past interchangeably with honey and maple syrup, particularly in recipes that call for dry rather than liquid sweetener.

It also has some antimicrobial properties that are pretty awesome…look in to lauric acid and monolaurin, MCT’s typically comprise capric and caprylic acids, and not lauric acid which makes up 50% of coconut oil.

I am working to switch my lifestyle over to a more paleo way but have noticed that I seem to get heart palpitations everytime I have Coconut Oil. I do well with coconut milk, in fact I drink a cup every morning but as soon as I add any coconut oil to it or have coconut oil in cooking the palpitations start. Has anybody noticed this happening to them? Does anybody have any helpful ideas (besides staying away)?

Thank you Christina! That is very interesting- all of the research I have done before people have said that coconut is something that very few people have an allergy/sensitivity to. Maybe they mean a true “allergy” rather than a sensitivity?

Hi Sarah

Is it possible to have an allergy to coconut milk/cream and not to the oil or water? Every time I drink or use the coconut milk in a drink I experience a throat irritation while drinking it?

Thanks Christine.
I have switched to using coconut oil in my tea instead of the milk. I still feel that it gives me the same throat irritation. Could this mean I have a sensitivity to all coconut? Or I know with the fermented cod liver oil that it can give you that same feeling in your throat because of the active enzymes could this be the case with the coconut?


[…] Kokosolje. Jeg prøver å spise en teskje kokosolje hver morgen. Det har fin effekt på en litt treg gravidmage. Bruker kokosolje i bakverk og noen ganger til å steke med, spørs litt hva vi lager. Kokosolje er også fint å ha med som rask energi på farten. Du trenger nemlig ikke magesyre for å ta opp energien fra kokosfettet, så du får rask energi uten at blodsukkeret stiger. Kokosfett har også en rekke andre helseeffekter, les feks om helsefordelene hos the paleo mom. […]

I have problems with coconut also, I tried both the oil & yogurt [my mouth down to chest feels like it’s on fire for days – like an upside down heartburn.] I just discovered tiger nuts & wanted to make sure they were ok for the Paleo approach diet; if they are I have discovered a new toy! So far I have made raisin cookies, milk, apple crisp, and “mozzarella cheese” out of them [I think I could use them for anything you could use nuts for, even though they really aren’t nuts at all.] I also use palm fruit oil to replace coconut oil & wanted to make sure that was ok too. Thank You!
Thank You for all the help you give people!

I use coconut flour, coconut milk, and coconut oil, and I love them all. But when I fry things in coconut oil they stick and burn so easily that some days I just want to go back to olive oil, and I shouldn’t. Any advice? Thank you.

I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced vivid dreams and nightmares while taking a small amount of coconut oil daily in coffee? I’ve started and stopped twice and this effect seems to be tied to the coconut oil. Is it a sensitivity? Or not a side effect at all?

Coconut is very beneficial in cooking as well for healthy hair. It Contains a Unique Combination of Fatty Acids With Powerful Medicinal Properties. I also got very useful information from your blog regarding coconut. No doubt I am dealing with Coconut products. Thanks for sharing.

I have some complex autoimmune illnesses (Ulcerative Colitis now in the pouch created after the removal of my colon) and related inflammatory and Rheumatoid arthritis and I can’t tolerate any coconut products except for an occasional small amount of coconut oil. I’m trying different Paleo/ SCD diets with no relief. Does IBD cause sensitivity to coconut products? I would love to find a food plan that doesn’t make me sick every day!

I recently (Jan) started AIP as I have thyroid problems and it has been great, however I love having coconut (COYO Brand) Yogurt for breakfast with fruit but about 10min after I get a burning/itching in the back of my throat (same thing happens with coconut milk). Could this mean I am allergic to coconut and should I stop using it all together?

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