Coconut (Cocos nucifera) is the fruit of the coconut palm, which grows in tropical places around the world. It can be eaten as food or used as medicine.

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. Coconut flour, which is made from coconut, contains high amounts of dietary fiber.

People use coconut for diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Don’t confuse coconut with coconut oil or coconut water. These are not the same.
When taken by mouth: Coconut is commonly consumed as food. Coconut is possibly safe when used as medicine, short-term. In some people, eating coconuts might cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms might include skin rashes and difficulty breathing.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Coconut is commonly consumed as food. There isn't enough reliable information to know if coconut is safe to use as medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

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: People who eat large amounts of coconut have higher cholesterol than those who eat less. But eating foods with coconut flour might actually decrease cholesterol levels. This might be due to the type of coconut product used. Whole coconut contains coconut oil, which is made up of saturated fat. But coconut flour is processed to remove fats. Use whole coconut cautiously if you have high cholesterol.

Surgery: Coconut might interfere with blood glucose control during and after surgery. Stop using coconut at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.


There is interest in using coconut for a number of purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Coconut is commonly eaten as food.

As medicine, there isn’t enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of coconut might be. 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 a healthcare professional before using.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Coconut might lower blood sugar levels. Taking coconut along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Coconut might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 22/02/2023 11:00:00 and last updated on 13/06/2018 00:48:57. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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