Coconuts: Phytochemistry

Coconut seeds are what are colloquially referred to as coconuts (Cocos nucifera). The seeds of the coconut tree are highly nutritious and they have been used traditionally where they grow as a source of energy and as a medicinal food. Coconut seeds consist of a hard shell in which is contained a white flesh. Inside the flesh of the coconut is an opaque liquid referred to as coconut milk. Some of the main phytochemicals in coconut are fatty acids and these are thought to provide coconuts with at least some of their health effects. Studies have shown that the fatty acids in coconuts include  caprylic acid (8.60 %),  lauric acid (41.30 %), palmitic acid (13.00 %), and stearic acid (3.6 %). Other phytochemicals present in coconuts include alkaloid, resins, glycosides, terpenoids, saponins and tannins. Current recommendations are that coconuts are a high quality food and should be incorporated into a healthy diet for their beneficial effects which include antiviral, antibacterial, antiprotozoal and anti-cancer activity. 

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Odenigbo, U. M. and Otisi, C. A. O. 2011. Fatty acids and phytochemical contents of different coconut seed flesh in Nigeria. International Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 3(11): 176-182

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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