Nuts and Bolts About Coconut Nutrition
There’s a lot of chatter about coconut these days. Many new products containing coconut are lining grocery store shelves, from coconut milk and water to flavored yogurts and frozen desserts. Some popular doctors, celebrities and diets tout the health benefits, but for now more reliable scientific research is needed before drawing any real conclusions.
Health Claims for Coconut Oil:
There are multiple health claims regarding the benefits of coconut oil, including promoting weight loss and improving heart health. One study looked at women ages 20-40 years of age who supplemented their diet with coconut oil. The results showed a decrease in abdominal fat. The participants were also given dietary and exercise advice so it is hard to prove how much of an effect the coconut oil had on their fat loss. As for improving cholesterol and heart health, there are a few studies that looked at coconut oil and found the combination of fatty acids in this oil improved the “good” HDL cholesterol, but on the flip side it raised the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Where Coconut Oil Fits Into the Total Fat Equation:
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, dietary fat from both healthy, (unsaturated) fat and unhealthy (saturated and trans) fat sources should make up no more than 35 percent of your daily calories. Some healthy fats include peanut butter, nuts, avocados, olive and canola oil. Some unhealthy fats are found in high fat meat and animal products, full fat dairy foods and oils such as palm and coconut oil and foods prepared from these oils.
Cooper Clinic recommends for a 2,000 calorie a day diet less than seven percent of total calories come from saturated fat. That equates to 16-22 grams of saturated fat a day. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 12 grams of saturated fat which is a big chunk of your saturated fat allotment! Most popular food products (see list below) are proportionately high in saturated fat to total fat. Even small amounts of either unsaturated or saturated fats are calorie-dense so accounting for the portion is a key factor. If you choose to include small amounts of coconut products in your diet, keep in mind how they fit into the total amount of your saturated fat budget. As with all foods, stick with moderation.
Comparing Coconut Products:
- Coconut oil: 1 tablespoon contains about 120 calories, 13.5 grams total fat and 12 grams saturated fat.
- Canned coconut milk: ½ cup serving contains about 220 calories, 24 grams total fat and 21 grams saturated fat.
- Coconut milk (So Delicious®, Original): 1 cup contains 80 calories, 5 grams total fat and 5 grams saturated fat.
- Coconut Greek yogurt: 6 oz. contains 140 calories, 4.5 grams total fat and 3.5 grams saturated fat.
- Coconut water: 1 cup contains about 45 calories, 0.5 grams total fat and 0.4 grams saturated fat.
- Coconut milk dessert (So Delicious®, vanilla, no sugar added): 1 cup contains 200 calories, 16 grams total fat and 14 grams saturated fat.
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to schedule a nutrition consultation, click here or call 972.560.2655.