Going Coco Loco: Can Adding Coconut to Your Diet Boost Your Health? - Tartan Vitalis

Going Coco Loco: Can Adding Coconut to Your Diet Boost Your Health?

Today is International Coconut Day, and in honour of the occasion here are my thoughts in our latest blog. We've created a video for those who prefer that method.

For the rest us old fashioned souls who like to read here's the paper version


Today is World Coconut Day, and who doesn’t love coconuts? Well, I certainly do, except I’m not entirely convinced of their health benefits. This blog reflects where I stand, and it’s fair to say it is a bit sceptical, even cynical. So, if you love and adore coconuts and won’t hear a word against them, then maybe pass on this one and enjoy the day. For the rest of you, enjoy it and let me know in the comments how you feel about this cynical, creative, light-hearted and sceptical approach (it wasn’t easy for me) and, of course, coconuts.


Coconuts are one of the latest obsessions in food and wellness. It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a coconut-infused smoothie, a coconut-based dessert, or even coconut oil for every imaginable purpose. But amidst the coconut craze, it’s time to step back and separate the truth from the hype.

 Welcome to our journey into the land of coconuts, where we’ll delve into the science behind the health claims surrounding these tropical fruits. Get ready to question everything you thought you knew about coconuts and discover if they truly live up to their trendy reputation.

 So, grab your palm tree hat and let’s embark on this coconut-filled adventure, where we’ll explore the nutritional profile of coconuts, uncover the truth about their unique fatty acids, and examine the magical properties of the elusive lauric acid. It’s time to see if these coconuts are truly worth going coco loco for.

 But be warned, we won’t be shy about debunking the myths and exposing the exaggerated claims along the way. So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to separate the coconut meat from the coconut water as we dive into the world of coconuts and the science behind their supposed health benefits.

Section 1: Exploring the Nutritional Profile of Coconuts

The nutritional profile of coconuts is shrouded in mystery and surrounded by lofty claims. Let’s peel back the layers and look at what coconuts bring to the table.

 First off, coconuts are known for their high-fat content. Yes, you heard it right, fat. But not just any fat - they contain a hefty dose of saturated fat. Now, saturated fat has long been demonised in the world of nutrition, being blamed for all sorts of health woes. But fear not, coconut lovers, because the saturated fat in coconuts comes in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

 MCTs, touted as the superheroes of the fat world, are believed to be digested and metabolised differently than other fats. Some claim they can boost your metabolism, help you burn more calories, and even shed those extra pounds. But hold on to your coconuts because the scientific evidence behind these claims is still a bit murky.

 Moving on from the fat content, coconuts offer some other nutrients worth mentioning. They contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. However, it’s important to note that these levels are not particularly impressive, and you’d have to consume a copious amount of coconuts to meet your daily nutrient needs.

 Oh, and let’s not forget about the fibre content of coconuts. While they do contain some dietary fibre, it’s not exactly a fibre powerhouse. So, if you want to increase your fibre intake, you might want to explore other options.

In summary, coconuts do provide some fat, a smattering of vitamins and minerals, and a touch of fibre. But before you go nuts for coconuts, remember they are not a miracle food. So, enjoy them in moderation and don’t expect them to solve all your nutritional woes.

Section 2: Unveiling the Health Claims of Coconuts

The moment of truth has arrived. It’s time to uncover the health claims surrounding coconuts and separate fact from fiction. Brace yourself as we dive into the depths of coconut-related assertions.

 Claim 1: Coconut Consumption and Heart Health

One of the most popular claims is that coconuts have a magical effect on cholesterol levels and heart health. It’s been said that the MCTs in coconuts can raise the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). But alas, the scientific evidence is not as clear-cut as the coconut enthusiasts would have you believe. While some studies suggest a modest improvement in cholesterol levels, others show no significant impact. So, don’t toss out your heart-healthy habits and rely solely on coconuts for cardiovascular salvation just yet.


Claim 2: Coconut’s Role in Weight Management

What about the eternal quest for the holy grail of weight loss? Coconut enthusiasts claim that the MCTs found in coconuts can rev up your metabolism, increase satiety, and help you shed those extra pounds. But hold on a minute, my sceptical friend. The evidence supporting these claims is far from conclusive. While MCTs may slightly affect satiety and metabolism, the impact on weight loss is still hotly debated. So, again, don’t rush to ditch your balanced diet and exercise routine in favour of a coconut-only regimen.


Claim 3: Immunity Boosting Powers of Coconuts

What about the promise of a robust immune system? Coconut lovers assert that coconut-derived compounds, such as lauric acid and antioxidants, can work wonders for your immune health. While it’s true that lauric acid has antimicrobial properties, its actual impact on immune function is still being researched. As for the antioxidants in coconuts, they do exist, but they’re not unique to coconuts alone. So, while coconuts may contribute to overall health, they’re not the sole key to invincibility against pesky colds and the flu.


Claim 4: Coconut’s Effects on Skin and Hair Health

Ah, the allure of luscious locks and radiant skin. Coconut oil enthusiasts swear by its benefits for skin health, hair growth, and even scalp conditions. While coconut oil may provide some moisturising properties, the scientific evidence on its effectiveness for specific skin and hair conditions is limited. Different skin types and individuals may respond differently, so it’s best to approach coconut oil as just one potential tool in your skincare and hair care arsenal.

 Section 3: Pondering Ways to Incorporate Coconuts into Your Diet

 Now that we’ve explored coconuts’ nutritional profile and health claims, let’s dive into some practical ways to incorporate these tropical delights into your diet. Brace yourself for a coconut-infused adventure in the kitchen!

 1.  Cooking with Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is the golden elixir that promises to transform your cooking and has gained quite a reputation as a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. But before you start deep-frying everything in sight, remember that coconut oil is still a fat and should be used in moderation. If you’re keen to try it, use it sparingly in stir-fries, sautés, or as a replacement for butter in baking. Coconut tastes good, but don’t expect it magically to transform your culinary creations into heavenly delights.


  1. Hydration with Coconut Water:

Coconut water has gained popularity as a natural sports drink. It has become the trendy beverage that claims to quench your thirst and replenish electrolytes, but let’s not get carried away. While it does contain some electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, it’s important to note that the levels are not as robust as those found in commercial sports drinks. So, if you enjoy the taste and can afford the price tag, go ahead and sip on some coconut water. But remember, it’s not a magical elixir that will turn you into an Olympic athlete overnight.


  1. Delicious Coconut-Based Recipes:

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for - mouthwatering recipes that embrace the coconut craze. From curries to smoothies and everything in between, coconuts can add a touch of tropical flair to your culinary creations. How about a Thai-inspired coconut curry with vegetables and tofu? Or perhaps a refreshing coconut and pineapple smoothie? The possibilities are endless, but don’t forget to balance your meal with other nutritious ingredients. Coconuts may be delicious, but they’re not the sole saviour of your taste buds. I have added the recipes to the curry and smoothie below to prove there’s no hard feeling. I’ve added the recipes to the curry and smoothie below to prove there are no hard feelings.

As you venture into the world of coconut-infused cuisine, remember to approach it with a balanced mindset. Coconuts can undoubtedly add a unique flavour and texture to your dishes. However, they’re not the be-all and end-all of culinary excellence. Enjoy them in moderation, experiment with new recipes, and embrace the coconut craze with a pinch of cynicism. Bon appétit!


So, the end of our coconut-filled journey has arrived. As we wrap up this adventure, let’s reflect on the truths we’ve uncovered amidst the coconut frenzy. But before we bid adieu to our coconut companions, a word of caution is in order.

 Coconuts, with their unique nutritional profile and health claims, have captured the hearts and taste buds of many. However, it’s crucial to approach the coconut craze with a healthy dose of scepticism. While coconuts offer some benefits, they are not the magical cure-all some would have you believe.

 The scientific evidence behind many health claims surrounding coconuts is still inconclusive. Whether it’s their impact on cholesterol levels, weight management, immune function, or skin health, the research is ongoing and often contradictory. So, don’t hang all your hopes on coconuts alone. A balanced and varied diet and other healthy lifestyle habits are still the key to overall well-being.

 But fear not, coconut lovers, for there’s still room for coconuts in your life. Enjoy them in moderation as part of a diverse and balanced diet. Explore coconuts’ many culinary possibilities, from cooking with coconut oil to incorporating coconut water into your hydration routine. Just remember not to go overboard and expect miracles from these tropical wonders.

 Let’s embrace a more grounded perspective as we bid farewell to our coco loco adventure. Coconuts can undoubtedly add a touch of tropical flair to your meals. However, they’re not the secret to eternal health and happiness. Approach them with a discerning eye, savour their unique flavours, and always remember that balance is key. Stay informed, stay cynical, and never let the hype overshadow the truth. And don’t forget the recipes below.

Bon voyage on your journey towards a healthier and more grounded approach to nutrition!


All the best



As promised, here are the recipes

Thai-Inspired Coconut Curry With Vegetables and Tofu.


- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

- 1 small onion, thinly sliced

- 2 garlic cloves, minced

- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

- 1 cup broccoli florets

- 1 cup sliced carrots

- 1 cup sliced mushrooms

- 1 block of firm tofu, cubed

- 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk

- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free option)

- 1 tablespoon lime juice

- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional, for a touch of sweetness)

- Fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped (for garnish)

- Cooked rice or noodles (to serve)



  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add the bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  4. Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the cubed tofu to the other side. Cook for a few minutes until the tofu is lightly browned on all sides.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar (if using).
  6. Pour the coconut milk mixture into the pan with the vegetables and tofu. Stir everything together to combine.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and let the curry simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld together.
  8. Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more curry paste or soy sauce for extra spice or saltiness.
  9. Serve the Thai coconut curry over cooked rice or noodles. Garnish with fresh coriander (cilantro).

Enjoy your delicious Thai-inspired coconut curry with vegetables and tofu!


Coconut and Pineapple Smoothie:



- 1 cup coconut milk

- 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks

- 1 ripe banana

- 1 tablespoon shredded coconut

- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional, for added sweetness)

- Ice cubes (optional, for a chilled smoothie)


  1. In a blender, combine the coconut milk, pineapple chunks, banana, shredded coconut, and honey or maple syrup (if desired).
  2. Add a handful of ice cubes to the blender if you prefer a chilled smoothie.
  3. Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. If the smoothie is too thick, add more coconut milk or water to reach your desired consistency.
  4. Taste the smoothie and adjust the sweetness by adding more honey or maple syrup if needed.
  5. Pour the coconut and pineapple smoothie into a glass.
  6. You can garnish the smoothie with a sprinkle of shredded coconut or a pineapple wedge if you like.
  7. Enjoy your delicious tropical coconut and pineapple smoothie!


Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and healthy fats into your diet. Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and bromelain, which may have anti-inflammatory properties. Coconut milk provides healthy fats and adds a creamy texture to the smoothie. Remember to use fresh, ripe ingredients for the best flavour.

Cheers to a refreshing and nutritious smoothie!


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