Can you eat the brown skin of a coconut?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat the brown skin of a coconut?” and discuss what are the risks of eating coconut brown skin.
Can you eat the brown skin of a coconut?
Yes, you can eat the brown skin of a coconut. There is no harm in eating the coconut’s dark skin, but if you choose, you may remove it. However, it is not recommended.
The coconut skin found in the mature coconut covers the whole inner fruit and is a dense material constituted of lignin and cellulose, which are not digestible by the human body (4).
Lignin and cellulose are dietary fibers and, although dietary fiber provides several benefits to health, the excessive consumption of insoluble fibers can be harmful (1).
What are the risks of eating the brown skin of a coconut?
The risk of eating the brown skin of a coconut is to have a gastric obstruction. Coconut is composed mainly of fibers (cellulose and lignin), which are indigestible.
Excessive consumption of foods high in fiber combined with improper chewing of food enhances Phytobezoar formation, a is a dense mass of non-digestible food, seeds, leaves or other pieces that collects in the stomach or small intestine, obstructing the region, that can be amplified by the deposition of fats, salt residues and fiber (1).
Bezoars are retained aggregates of indigestible material that accumulate and conglomerate in the gastrointestinal tract (8).
What are the benefits of eating the brown skin of a coconut?
The benefits of eating the brown skin of a coconut are related to the ingestion of dietary fibers (4).
Insoluble dietary fibers are polysaccharides that are not fermentable. These are mainly cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and are typically hydrophilic, which means they are attracted to water molecules.
The water binds to hydrophilic sites on the fiber component or to the spaces between cells in the fiber’s molecular structure. As a result, when insoluble dietary fibers are consumed, they can absorb water within their porous matrix, and swell, resulting in the bulking effect of the fiber in the colon.
This is beneficial for the prevention of constipation, weight loss and control of the glycemic level of the blood. Additionally, insoluble dietary fiber components can reduce the effect of toxic substances by diluting them in the large intestine, contributing to an intoxication effect.
What are the coconut parts and what should you eat?
The parts of the coconut are the outer husk, the intermediate shell and the inner flesh, which is the white/ pale yellow edible portion containing a liquid portion inside it. The skin is a thin layer that covers the entire body.
The shell, which is made of fibrous husk, is not edible and is used to make charcoal, jewelry, and other small items. The husk is also not edible and is made of cellulose and lignin and also used as fuel. The skin, although edible, should not be consumed, as explained earlier in this article. The edible portions are the flesh and the liquid inside the fruit (6).
Coconut is marketed at two stages of development, immature and mature. At an immature stage, the fruit (water coconut) contains mainly juice and a translucent jelly-like meat (endosperm).
The immature stage is when the coconut reaches full size, about 6 to 8 months from flowering, the volume of juice in the nut declines, and the sweetness, measured as soluble solids, begins to increase to about 6%. Mature coconut (11 to 13 months old) has hard white flesh (meat, endosperm) and a lesser amount of juice (5).
Is it possible to eat the brown skin of a coconut?
Theoretically yes, when pulverized into very fine particles, the coconut brown skin powder could be used as a fiber supplement.
In a study, cocoa shells finely pulverized were used as a fiber supplement and could demonstrate to possess beneficial properties by decreasing food consumption and preventing weight gain in experiments in rats.
These findings suggest that developing a natural fiber source from a byproduct of the food industry, like cocoa shells, or other types of shell, could provide a low-cost and valuable source of dietary fiber for various food applications (7).
Similarly, the brown skin of coconut could be extracted from the coconut and grind into fine particles, forming a pulver, which could be added in the food as a supplement.
Other FAQs about Coconut that you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat the brown skin of a coconut?” and we discussed what are the risks of eating the brown skin of coconut.
- Ioniță-Mîndrican, Corina-Bianca, et al. Therapeutic Benefits and Dietary Restrictions of Fiber Intake: A State of the Art Review. Nutrients, 2011, 14, 13.
- Archana, A., et al. Coconut shell as a promising resource for future biofuel production. Biomass valor bioen, 2020, 31-43.
- Luengwilai, Kietsuda, et al. Postharvest quality and storage life of ‘Makapuno’coconut (Cocos nucifera L.). Scientia Horticult, 2014, 175, 105-110.
- Mudgil, Deepak. The interaction between insoluble and soluble fiber. Dietary fiber for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Academic Press, 2017. 35-59.
- Paull, R. E., and S. Ketsa. Coconut: postharvest quality-maintenance guidelines. Fruit, Nut, and Beverage Crops. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2015.
- Foale, M., and H. Harries. Farm and forestry production and marketing profile for coconut (Cocos nucifera). Specialty crops for pacific island agroforestry, Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR), Holualoa, 2009.
- Panak Balentić, Jelena, et al. Cocoa shell: A by-product with great potential for wide application. Molecules, 2018, 23, 1404.
- Manatakis, Dimitrios K., et al. Gastrointestinal seed bezoars: a systematic review of case reports and case series. Cureus, 2019, 11, 5.