Coconut meat refers to the white and hard meat of a mature coconut. In contrast, the meat of a young coconut is called buko and is thinner, rather translucent and softer than the meat of a mature coconut. While the meat of a young coconut is gelatinous and can be easily scraped off the shell by means of a spoon, the meat of a mature coconut is so hard it's quite a challenge to remove.
Coconut meat is the source of coconut milk and coconut oil. To remove coconut meat from its shell, most Filipinos break whole coconuts into two and grate each halve to remove the coconut meat from the shell. Grated coconut meat can be eaten directly or pressed to give off coconut milk (my favorite cooking milk). Alternatively, coconut milk can be cold-pressed to give VCO or processed by heat and refining to give cooking oil such as RBD oil.
As the raw material for coconut milk and VCO, coconut meat is raw, unrefined and all-natural. As such, it posseses all the health-giving properties of VCO and has something VCO does not have -- fiber. By weight, coconut meat is 34% oil, 47% water, 11% fiber, 4% protein and just 4% starch and sugar.
The fiber content of coconut meat is especially significant. Coconut meat is one of the most concentrated sources of dietary fiber around. It trails closely behind bamboo shoots in terms of dietary fiber density and beats other more popular fiber powerhouses such as broccoli, wheat bran and spinach.
To give us the right perspective, let me cite data from the US Department of Agriculture. In the database of the said government agency, the carbohydrate content of oat bran is 24% fiber while that of wheat bran is 42%. We know that these are the two most popular fiber sources. Yet it is striking to know that the carbohydrate content of coconut meat is 71% fiber, leaving oat and wheat bran so far behind in the fiber race.
And the wonderful thing about coconut meat is that unlike wheat bran, it does not taste of husk, grass or cardboard. Its fiber is couched in a sweet and milky form – think macaroons, for example. As a rich fiber source, coconut meat sweeps away toxins, absorbs excess cholesterol, helps in weight management, fights cancer and helps in the management of many diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and digestive problems.
I intend to eat more of this often taken-for-granted coconut meat. Eating it is not that hard to do as I do love these crunchy bits which ooze sweet milkiness. Grated coconut meat is especially excellent as topping for native Filipino delicacies such as steamed rice cakes called kuchinta, boiled rice patties called palitaw and boiled sweet potato or camote.
Methinks coconut meat may be the most delicious fiber source in the world.
Like to look at an overview of the amazing array of coconut products? Read this index.