Student coconut consumption has increased in light of recent health benefits

Student coconut consumption has increased in light of recent health benefits


When sophomore Abigail “Abby” Fields tried coconut water for the first time, she hated it.

“Coconut water sounded pretty good, so I tried one,” she said. “Once I paid for it, I took a sip and I spit it all over. It was just nasty.”

Despite her aversion to coconut water, Fields said she enjoys the use of other products such as coconut cream and coconut milk.

Coconut water is a part of the recent coconut health craze that is sweeping the United States, reaching even this school’s cafeterias. According to a January 2012 New Nutrition Business brochure, the coconut beverage market doubled in 2011 to a value of more than $265 million in the United States and Europe. The explosion of coconut consumption is likely due to its major selling point: coconuts have natural health benefits.

“The actual coconut craze is kind of based on coconut oil,” nurse Kandyce Hardie said. “It has little sugar, little cholesterol and no fat.”

Hardie said coconut water is comparable to sports drinks due to high electrolyte content. Electrolytes are minerals that affect muscle function and the amount of water in the body.

According to Hardie, people with lactose intolerance can use coconut products to replace lactose products.

“Sometimes my family gets coconut milk because my cousin is lactose intolerant,” Fields said. She said she enjoys the taste of coconut milk.

“It tastes just like sweeter milk,” she said.

Coconut flour can also be a wheat flour substitute for those on gluten-free diets.

“Diabetics also look to lower their carbohydrate levels by using coconut products because it doesn’t have carbohydrates,” Hardie said. “We have 28 diabetics in our school.”

According to a study done in 2010 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory uses. Decreasing inflammation can help the body fight illnesses.

Some studies have also suggested that coconut oil consumption helps fight heart disease.

“That’s really interesting, especially because our state and the Midwest is known for obesity and heart disease,” Hardie said. “So that can be huge.”

Overall, Hardie suggests coconuts in moderation. “What I try to do with things like this, when I hear about them, is to think about how can I incorporate that into my diet so I can get the health benefits from it but not overdo it,” she said.

Despite overarching health benefits, consumption still depends on personal taste.

“Coconut water is just disgusting,” Fields said. “But I think other coconut products are pretty good.”