Coconut meat is the white, fleshy inside of a coconut with a sweet taste. It has various nutritional and health benefits, such as supporting heart health and improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Coconut trees are brilliant sources of food, oil, fiber, and wood. The large fruits of the coconut palm contain coconut water, milk, oil, and meat.

Alongside coconut milk and oil, coconut meat has become a popular snack and ingredient in cooking, partly due to its many health benefits. People can eat coconut meat, either fresh or dried.

Read on for a guide to coconut meat, including the health benefits and potential risks of eating coconut meat.

One cup of coconut meat contains:

Protein2.66 grams (g)
Carbs12.2 g
Fat26.8 g
Sugar4.98 g
Fiber7.2 g
Selenium8.08 micrograms
Copper0.35 milligrams (mg)
Phosphorus90.4 mg
Potassium285 mg
Iron1.94 mg
Zinc0.88 mg
Manganese1.2 mg

Nutritional highlights

  • Manganese: One cup, or 80 g, of fresh coconut meat contains 52% of a person’s recommended Daily Value (DV) of manganese. Manganese is important, as it helps improve the function of many enzymes in the body and supports the metabolism of sugars and fats. Manganese can reduce oxidative stress from free radicals in the body.
  • Copper: Copper is also important in the metabolic process and may help decrease the frequency of infections, cardiovascular conditions, and osteoporosis. A cup of coconut meat provides 39% of a person’s recommended DV.
  • Fiber: Each cup of coconut meat contains almost 25% of the recommended DV of fiber. Most of the fiber in coconut meat is insoluble, which is the kind of fiber that can help improve a number of different gastrointestinal issues and promote overall gut health.
  • Iron: Coconut meat also contains a high amount of iron, with 1 cup providing around 11% of a person’s recommended DV.

Much of the fat in coconut meat is saturated fat. However, this is mostly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), or medium-chain fatty acids.

MCTs are important because the body converts them more easily into energy that it can use quickly, compared with other sources of fat.

There are many potential health benefits associated with eating coconut meat. The following sections will look at these benefits in more detail.

Contains powerful antioxidants

Coconut meat contains many antioxidant phenolic compounds, which fight free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress throughout the body.

A 2016 study of the compounds and fats present in various types of coconut found that the meat contained:

Having high amounts of oxidative stress has links with a number of different conditions, including:

Antioxidants tackle the cause of oxidative stress and can lower the risk of developing a variety of conditions.

May support a healthy heart

The coconut oil in the meat of the coconut may help improve a person’s levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and lower the levels of their low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol.

The researchers behind a 2017 study involving 35 healthy 18–25-year-olds instructed half of the participants to consume 30 milliliters of virgin coconut oil daily for 8 weeks.

They found that the levels of HDL cholesterol in those consuming the coconut oil were significantly higher than those in the control group. There was no difference in their LDL cholesterol levels.

Learn more ways a person can add coconut oil to their diet here.

May improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

One 2015 review noted that a small number of clinical trials and animal studies have explored the effects of MCTs on people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The review went on to say that these studies have reported significant cognitive improvements in people with Alzheimer’s disease, though it called for more research to make firm conclusions.

As well as having a number of health benefits, there are some possible risks to consuming coconut meat. Most of the time, these risks involve excessive consumption rather than eating it in moderation.


Consuming a lot of coconut meat means that a person will consume a lot of fats, including polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats.

One 2018 study suggested that the consumption of coconut should not exceed the United States Department of Agriculture’s daily recommended saturated fat intake, at less than 10% of a person’s total daily calorie intake.

In 2016, researchers from Harvard University noted that having a high intake of saturated fats may lead to an increased risk of heart disease. However, most people — especially those eating a typical Western diet — do not eat enough coconut for the saturated fat in it to have an impact.

Learn how much saturated fat a person should have in their diet here.

Weight gain

Because coconut meat is high in calories, it can also contribute to weight gain if people eat a lot of it and do not reduce their calorie intake elsewhere in their diet.

Learn about the myth behind weight loss and coconut oil here.


Manufacturers may add sugar to processed coconut meat products during the production process. This means that although people may think that they are choosing a healthy snack, they could be consuming a lot of hidden sugar.

People should always check the label on food products.


As with most foods, there is always a small chance that someone may be allergic to coconuts. Coconut allergies are rare but can cause anaphylaxis.

People can eat coconut meat raw. They can either buy a whole coconut or find raw coconut in the refrigerator aisle at the grocery store. Alternatively, people can choose sun-dried coconut, which they do not need to store in a refrigerator.

Eating coconut meat raw is a great way to ensure that a person gets the full nutritional benefits of the fruit. Processed coconut products may contain added sugar, and the action of processing them may remove some of the nutrients and fiber.

A 2016 study that looked at the antioxidant properties of coconut meat also found that the more mature the coconut, the higher its fat content. It also noted that most manufacturers use mature meat to make dehydrated coconut.

Therefore, eating raw, young coconut may be a better option for those aiming to decrease their fat intake.

If a person has a whole coconut, they should pierce a hole through one of the three “eyes” on the top of the fruit. They should then drain the water completely, then lightly hammer the coconut to cause the shell to crack open. Then, they should remove the meat with a spoon or knife, depending on the texture of the meat.

People can use coconut meat in a number of ways, such as by:

  • blending it into smoothies
  • adding it to porridge or overnight oats
  • mixing it into dips and spreads
  • stirring fresh chunks into curries, stews, or stir-fries
  • adding it to fruit salads for a tropical twist
  • dehydrating it to create coconut jerky
  • sprinkling it on top of other foods
  • baking coconut macaroons
  • coating tofu, meat, or fish in combination with breadcrumbs

Coconut meat is a versatile food that many people can easily add to their diet.

People can enjoy coconut meat fresh or dried. The meat is the white, fleshy part of the coconut that comes alongside coconut water in the fruit.

It can take the form of coconut cream or milk, but manufacturers usually sweeten it in the production process. Therefore, a person should aim to eat coconut meat raw or unsweetened to limit their sugar intake.

Coconut meat may have a number of health benefits, but due to its high fat content, people should only eat it in moderation as part of a healthy diet.