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Coconut: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Siddharth Gupta +2 more


Cocos nucifera is a plant belonging to the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is also known as coconut, coco, coco-da-bahia, or coconut-of-the-beach. The plant is native to Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines) and the islands between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The presence of phenols, tannins, leucoanthocyanidins, flavonoids, triterpenes, steroids, and alkaloids was discovered in phytochemical analyses of coconut fibre extract.1 The coconut palm is often regarded as one of nature’s most valuable and beautiful plants. Coconut products, such as oils, fibre, and even charcoal, are widely used in consumer products such as soap, cosmetics, foods, and medications today.2

coconut benefits

The coconut palm is one of the most extensively produced palms globally. Coconuts are utilised as a whole or in sections, including mesocarp (middle layer of fruit) fibres, milk, flesh, and husk. Copra (the dried meat of the coconut seed from which oil is derived) is a significant crop in the tropics. Several studies on the benefits of coconut and coconut oil have revealed that it may have substantial effects on various disorders.2

Nutritional Value of Coconut:

The nutritional content found in 100 g of coconut fruit is:2

Energy1481 kJ (354 kcal)
Carbohydrates15.23 g
Sugars6.23 g
Dietary fibres9 g
Total fat33.49 g
Saturated fat29.70 g
Monounsaturated fat1.43 g
Polyunsaturated fat0.37 g
Protein3 g
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)0.066 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.02 mg (1%)
Niacin (Vitamin B3)0.54 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)0.300 mg (6%)
Vitamin B60.054 mg (4%)
Folate (Vitamin B9)26  µg (7%)
Vitamin C3.3 mg (6%)
Calcium14 mg (1%)
Iron2.43 mg (19%
Magnesium32 mg (9%)
Phosphorus113 mg (16%
Potassium356 mg (8%)
Zinc1.1 mg (11%)
Table1: Nutrients found in Coconut2

Also Read: Onion: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Coconut:

I recommend including fresh coconut in your diet due to its nutritional composition. It contains 7% dietary fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion, and 5% proteins, which are essential for tissue repair and maintenance.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Various properties of the coconut plant are listed below.1

  • It might help reduce diarrhoea (anti-diarrhoeal)1
  • It might be a antipyretic (fever relieving)1
  • It might have anti-inflammatory activity (reduces body’s elaborate pain and swelling mechanism)1
  • It might be an anti-diuretic (reduced urination)1
  • It might be an effective antibacterial 1
  • It might have an anti-diabetic action (lowering blood sugar)1
  • It might have an anti-asthmatic property (relieves asthma symptoms)1
  • It might have anti-dermatitis potential (relieves skin inflammation)1
  • It might help in wound healing1
  • It might be a potent anti-viral agent 1
  • It might have anti-malarial activity1
  • It might be an anti-helminthic (removes intestinal worms) agent1
  • It might be effective against fungi (anti-fungal)1
  • It might have antineoplastic (anticancer) potential 1
  • It might be an anti-osteoporotic (bone protective) agent1
  • It might be an antioxidant1
  • It might have kidney protective properties1
  • It might have heart protective properties1
  • It might have liver protective activties1
  • It might be an anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering) agent1

Also Read: Olive Oil: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Uses of Coconut:

Potential uses of coconut for pain:

Several studies in mice were performed to determine the analgesic (pain relief) efficacy of crude husk-fibre extract of coconut. The extract showed the potential to relieve the pain by acting on the brain’s pathways. According to the research, the coconut husk fibre extracts might act as an effective painkiller.1 These claims may need further research to establish their effect on humans.

Potential uses of coconut for inflammation:

Traditional medicine in Northeastern Brazil uses coconut husk fibre preparations to manage arthritis (joint inflammation) and other inflammatory disorders. An animal study revealed that coconut extracts might help reduce pain and inflammation by lowering inflammatory cells migration, protein leakage, and the formation of an inflammatory mediator. As per another animal study, husk fibre extracts might also cause reduction of rat paw oedema (swelling).1 However these studies were performed on animals and human studies will be needed to understand a similar impact on humans.

Potential uses of coconut as an antioxidant:

Tender coconut water contains a free amino acid (L-arginine) that reduces free radical production. Tender coconut water also includes vitamin C, which might inhibit lipid peroxidation in rats. When rats’ diets are supplemented with virgin coconut oil, the antioxidant enzyme levels might show an increase.3

According to studies, the total phenolic content of virgin coconut oil was nearly seven times that of commercial coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil displayed a higher antioxidant potential than refined coconut oil in the antioxidant assay. Several methods were used to assess the antioxidant activity of coconut extracts. The study’s findings revealed that coconut extracts might have significant antioxidant potential.1

Potential uses of coconut for the heart:

In an animal study, the blood pressure reducing potential of coconut’s endocarp extract was investigated. Coconut endocarp extract might help decrease blood pressure in hypertensive rats by acting on the nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase pathways. The presence of phenolic chemicals and flavonoids in the extract utilised can explain these properties.1

Coconut water might help the heart against myocardial infarction (heart attack) due to its high mineral ion concentration, particularly potassium. Virgin coconut oil was found to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, low-density lipoprotein, very-low-density lipoprotein, and enhance high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels in studies. Low-density lipoprotein oxidation might be inhibited by the polyphenol component of virgin coconut oil.3

Virgin coconut oil may help lower lipid peroxidation. Coconut protein might have a hypolipidaemic impact due to its high L-arginine (amino acid) concentration. It might help maintain normal lipid parameters in tissues and serum. Hence, it might inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation, reversing cholesterol transport and reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption.3 However, you should consult a doctor for treatment of heart diseases and conditions.

Potential uses of coconut for cancer:

The effect of extracts of coconut husk fibre on human leukaemia (white blood cancer) cell lines was examined. The coconut husk fibre extract was potentially toxic for leukaemia cells and might help lower the leukaemia cell vitality.1 A serious condition like cancer must be diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor. Please do not self-medicate.

Potential uses of coconut for parasitic infection:

In an animal study, the anti-helminthic activity of a green coconut bark extract was tested. The liquid from the coconut husk was also evaluated for ovicidal (causing the death of ovum) and larvicidal (killing the larval insect) efficacy against Haemonchus contortus. The extract demonstrated significant larvicidal and ovicidal action. These findings imply that coconut extracts may be helpful in dealing with gastrointestinal worms.1 However, such claims need to be proved by further research.

Potential uses of coconut for the brain:

The extract of coconut root significantly increased the sleep duration in rats, indicating a possible depressing influence on the brain. In an animal model, coconut root extract was also found to have potential anticonvulsant (prevents the fits) properties. Even after 24 hours, no animals experienced seizures or died.1 These effects are yet to be confirmed in humans. You must consult a doctor if you suffer with depression or have other conditions.

Potential uses of coconut for microbial infections:

One of the experiments looked into the antimicrobial effects of coconut husk extracts against common oral pathogens. Significant antimicrobial potential was shown for all examined microorganisms.1 This indicates that it may have some effect against infections caused by these microorganisms.

Potential uses of coconut for bacterial infections:

Using one of the assays, coconut endocarp extracts were tested for antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Acinetobacter baumannii, Citrobacter freundii, Enterococcus, Streptococcus pyrogens, Bacillus subtilis, and Micrococcus luteus.1

Potential uses of coconut for fungal infections

Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Fonsecaea pedrosoi growth inhibition demonstrated the antifungal efficacy of crude extract of coconut. The antifungal activities might be attributed to tannins and catechins present in the crude extract of coconut.1

Potential uses of coconut for viral infections:

Coconut oil might have an effect against lipid-coated viruses such as visna virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, influenza virus, leukaemia virus, pneumonia virus, and hepatitis C virus. The fatty acids in coconut oil might mostly kill these organisms apparently by damaging their membranes and interfering with virus formation and maturation.3

Potential uses of coconut for diabetes:

Purified coconut kernel protein was tested for anti-diabetic efficacy in an animal study. It showed the potential to reduce the glucose levels in the animal model. The levels of glycogen in the liver and the activity of carbohydrate-metabolising enzymes in the serum of diabetic animal models also apparently returned to normal on the administration with coconut kernel protein.1 Please consult a doctor for treatment of diabetes and do not self-medicate.

Potential uses of coconut for bone:

Virgin coconut oil’s activity on the bone structure was studied in an animal study. In animals, virgin coconut oil administration showed a potential to enhance bone volume,  decrease bone tissue, and decreased bone tissue separation.1 However, more research is required.

Potential uses of coconut for kidneys:

In a rat model, coconut water might have a positive effect on kidney stones. Urine analysis demonstrated a significant drop in the amount of calcium oxalate crystals, creatinine, and urea levels, antioxidant enzyme levels and lipid peroxidation.1 However, these effects need to be ascertained by more research.

Potential uses of coconut for the skin:

Coconut oil has a long history of use as a moisturiser in many world regions. Coconut oil might have bacteria-killing action and may be an effective and safe skin moisturiser. Monolaurin (a by-product of coconut fat) might be effective against bacteria isolated from superficial skin lesions. Because of its potential antibacterial effect against S. aureus, virgin coconut oil and monolaurin (a by-product of coconut fat) may have been suggested for potential use against atopic dermatitis (skin inflammation).3 All these mentioned above are the various coconut benefits for skin.

Potential uses of coconut for immunity:

Scientists discovered an increase in red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes, and haemoglobin levels after feeding coconut protein to immunocompromised (low immunity power) animals, indicating that coconut protein might have potential immunomodulatory (immunity enhancer) activity.3

Though there are studies that show the potential coconut benefits in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of coconut on human health. 

Also Read: Mangosteen: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Coconut?

Coconut can be used as:

  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut husk fibre
  • Coconut bark tea1
  • Coconut water
  • Coconuts fruits
  • Coconut oil2

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Coconut:  

There are no major side effects of coconut reported by far. If you try coconut for any of the potential coconut uses and experience any side effects, seek immediate medical help from your doctor who has prescribed it to you. They will be the best guide for providing proper treatment to overcome side effects.

Precautions to Take With Coconut:

Drinking coconut water is safe in pregnancy.4 But to establish the coconut benefits in pregnancy, more research and studies need to be conducted. The research on the safe use of coconut in children and elderly has not been documented. Therefore, it should only be taken under the supervision and advice of a physician.

Also Read: Is Coconut Water Good for Diabetes? A Fact-Based Discussion

Interactions With Other Drugs:

There is not much information available on how coconut interacts with other medications. Hence, patients should consult a doctor before taking coconut if they take any other drug or supplement.

Also Read: Is Coconut Milk Keto? Exploring its Potential in a Keto Diet

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is coconut a fruit?

Yes, coconut is a fruit.2

Is coconut water safe in pregnancy?

Yes, coconut water drinking might be safe in pregnancy. Consumption of coconut water by pregnant women should be confirmed with a doctor before use.4

What is a coconut?

Coconut is a fruit that can be utilised as a whole or in sections, including mesocarp (middle layer of fruit) fibres, milk, flesh, and husk.2

Is coconut good for health?

Yes, coconut might be good for health. It might have several properties like wound healing, anti-viral, anti-malarial, anti-helminthic (removes intestinal worms), antifungal, antineoplastic (anticancer), anti-osteoporotic (bone protective activity), antioxidant, kidney protective, heart-protective, liver protective and anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering).1 However, the above-mentioned potential health effects need to be ascertained by more research.

Is coconut good for the liver?

Tender coconut water decreased blood enzyme levels, liver cell death, and fatty liver in rats, but the effects are not reported in human beings.1

Is coconut good for diabetes?

Coconut kernel protein extracted from dried coconut kernels reduces glucose and insulin levels in diabetic rats, but this effect is not reported in human beings.1

Is coconut good for managing cholesterol?

Virgin coconut oil obtained from coconut was found to lower total cholesterol levels due to its polyphenol component in an animal experiment.3

What is the average height of a coconut tree?

The average height of a coconut tree is 20-30 m.2

Which part of the coconut is edible?

The endosperm (tissue inside the seed) of the mature coconut is located on the inner surface of the shell. The clear liquid inside the endosperm layer and the seed is the edible part of the coconut.2

Is coconut good for high blood pressure?

Coconut might be helpful for high blood pressure. Coconut endocarp extracts might help significantly decrease blood pressure in hypertensive rats by acting on the nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase pathways. But this effect is not reported in human beings. 1

What are the uses of coconut?

Coconut products, such as oils, fibre, and even charcoal, are widely used in consumer products such as soaps, cosmetics, foods, and medications today.2

Which part of coconut produces coir?

The fibres of coconut produce coir (coconut fibre obtained from the outer husk of the coconut).2

What is coconut husk?

The exocarp (outer layer) and mesocarp (middle layer) of coconut fruit make up the coconut husk.2


Lima EB, Sousa CN, Meneses LN, Ximenes NC, Santos MA, Vasconcelos GS, et al. Cocos nucifera (L.)(Arecaceae): A phytochemical and pharmacological review. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2015; 48: 953-964. Available from:


Agyemang-Yeboah F. Health benefits of coconut (Cocos nucifera Linn.) seeds and coconut consumption. InNuts and seeds in health and disease prevention 2011 (pp. 361-367). Academic Press. Available from:


DebMandal M, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011; 4(3):241-247. Available from:


Diana R, Rachmayanti RD, Anwar F, Khomsan A, Christianti DF, Kusuma R. Food taboos and suggestions among Madurese pregnant women: a qualitative study. J Ethnic Foods. 2018; 5(4): 246-253. Available from:


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