Other Name(s):

Coco da Bahia, Coco da Praia, Coconut Palm, Cocos nucifera, Cocotero, Cocotier, Copra, Coqueiro, Coqueiro da Bahia, Coqueiro da Praia, Kokosnuss, Kokospalm, Kokospalme, Mnazi.


Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm. It can be eaten as food or used as medicine.

Coconut is taken by mouth for bladder stones, diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight loss.

In foods, coconut is used in various preparations.

How does it work?

Coconut flour, which is prepared from the byproducts of coconut after removal of coconut milk, contains high amounts of dietary fiber. These fibers are believed to help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.

Coconuts contain a high amount of a saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides. These fats work differently than other types of saturated fat in the body. They might increase fat burning and reduce fat storage.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • High cholesterol. Some early research suggests that eating foods prepared with coconut flour can lower levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol compared to baseline in people with slightly high cholesterol levels. However, other early research shows that people who eat large amounts of coconut have higher cholesterol levels than people who eat lower amounts. The differences may be due to the type of coconut that is eaten. Coconut contains coconut oil, which might increase cholesterol levels. Coconut flour is prepared from the byproducts of coconut after the removal of coconut milk. These byproducts are defatted and contain a high percentage of dietary fiber.
  • Bladder stones.
  • Diabetes.
  • Weight loss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate coconut for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

There is not enough scientific information available to know if coconut is safe to use as medicine. In some people, eating coconuts might cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms may include skin rashes and difficulty breathing.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking coconut as medicine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Allergy to coconut oil or related plants: Coconut might cause serious allergic reactions in people who are allergic to coconut oil, coconut palm pollen, components of coconut, or other members of the Arecaceae plant family.

High cholesterol: There is concern that eating coconuts might increase cholesterol levels. But there is contradictory evidence that shows that eating foods containing coconut flour, which is prepared from coconut that has had the milk removed, might actually decrease total and "bad" cholesterol levels.


The appropriate dose of coconut depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for coconut. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Couturier P, Basset-Stheme D, Navette N, Sainte-Laudy J. [A case of coconut oil allergy in an infant: responsibility of "maternalized" infant formulas]. Allerg Immunol (Paris) 1994;26(10):386-7. View abstract.

Feranil AB, Duazo PL, Kuzawa CW, Adair LS. Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women in the Philippines. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2011;20:190-5. View abstract.

Grimwood BE. Coconut Palm Products: Their Processing in Developing Countries. Rome, Italy: Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1975.

Karmakar PR, Das A, Chatterjee BP. Placebo-controlled immunotherapy with Cocos nucifera pollen extract. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 1994;103(2):194-201. View abstract.

Macfarlane BJ, Bezwoda WR, Bothwell TH, et al. Inhibitory effect of nuts on iron absorption. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;47(2):270-4. View abstract.

Murray DB. Chapter 14: Coconut Palm. Ecophysiology of Tropical Crops. Ed. Alvim P de T, Kozlowski TT. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1977.

Ng SP, Tan CP, Lai OM, Long K, Mirhosseini H. Extraction and characterization of dietary fiber from coconut residue. J Food Agric Environ 2010;8(2):172-177.

Prior IA, Davidson F, Salmond CE, Czochanska Z. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am J Clin Nutr 1981;34(8):1552-61. View abstract.

Reiser R, Probstfield JL, Silvers A, et al. Plasma lipid and lipoprotein response of humans to beef fat, coconut oil and safflower oil. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:190-7. View abstract.

Rosado A, Fernandez-Rivas M, Gonzalez-Mancebo E, et al. Anaphylaxis to coconut. Allergy 2002;57(2):182-3. View abstract.

Teuber SS, Peterson WR. Systemic allergic reaction to coconut (Cocos nucifera) in 2 subjects with hypersensitivity to tree nut and demonstration of cross-reactivity to legumin-like seed storage proteins: new coconut and walnut food allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:1180-5. View abstract.

Trinidad TP, Loyola AS, Mallillin AC, et al. The cholesterol-lowering effect of coconut flakes in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol. J Med Food 2004;7(2):136-40. View abstract.

Trinidad TP, Mallillin AC, Valdez DH, et al. Dietary fiber from coconut flour: A functional food. Innovative Food Sci Emerg Technol 2006;7(2006):309-317.

Trinidad TP, Valdez DH, Loyola AS, et al. Glycaemic index of different coconut (Cocos nucifera)-flour products in normal and diabetic subjects. Br J Nutr 2003;90(3):551-6. View abstract.

Viste GB, Silvestre RC, Silvestre JQ. Ectoparasiticidal effect of virgin coconut (Cocos nucifera) oil shampoo in dogs. Int Sci Res J 2013;V(2):242-261.

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