Coconut butter, a versatile and popular coconut product, serves as both an ingredient and a condiment.
This article explores its nutritional properties, potential benefits and downsides, and delves into its varied usages.
What Is Coconut Butter?
Coconut butter is a spreadable form of coconut meat. The product is made by pureeing the coconut’s flesh into a butter-like consistency.
Popular products such as ‘Coconut Manna’ are a form of coconut butter.
Taste and Texture
Despite its ‘butter’ moniker, it bears no resemblance to regular butter. Instead, coconut butter offers a slightly creamy and mildly sweet taste with a fibrous, slightly grainy texture, similar to nut butters like almond butter.
Overall, coconut butter delivers a pleasant and enjoyable taste, and it can add a lot of flavor and texture to dishes as an ingredient. That said, many people use coconut butter as a condiment. For instance, spreading it on toast or incorporating it into spicy curries.
Coconut butter finds its way into desserts and pre-packaged sauces. It is the same nutritionally as another coconut product known as ‘creamed coconut,’ with the notable distinction lying in their forms. While coconut butter is pureed into a spreadable consistency, creamed coconut is shaped and pressed into a solid bar-like form.
These two coconut products are fairly similar aside from this. Coconut butter is preferred for spreading, whereas creamed coconut can be grated over dishes. Nevertheless, they are interchangeable in recipes requiring either.
At room temperature, coconut butter remains soft and spreadable but can solidify at temperatures below 78°F (25°C), the melting point of coconut oil (1).
How Does It Differ From Coconut Oil?
The distinction between coconut butter and coconut oil is clear: while the former contains the whole coconut meat, coconut oil consists solely of the concentrated fat content of the coconut.
Consequently, coconut butter offers fiber, vitamins, and minerals, presenting a more comprehensive nutritional profile.
Additionally, coconut oil is typically used as a cooking oil, whereas people utilize coconut butter as a condiment or an ingredient in various recipes.
What is the Nutritional Profile of Coconut Butter?
The subsequent tables illustrate the complete nutritional values of coconut butter per ounce (28g) serving.
All nutritional data has been obtained from the USDA’s FoodData Central database (2).
Percent daily values (% Daily Value) have been calculated using the USDA data alongside the FDA’s recommended daily values (3).
|Name||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Saturated Fat||15.0 g||75.0%|
The table clearly highlights that coconut butter is primarily a source of fat, and it is notably high in saturated fat.
It also offers a reasonable amount of fiber, and a modest provision of protein.
The coconut butter products listed in the USDA database lack comprehensive information on their vitamin and mineral content.
Hence, the following vitamin and mineral composition data is derived from the USDA’s entry for ‘creamed coconut.’
As previously mentioned, the sole difference between creamed coconut and coconut butter lies in their form and texture, while they remain identical nutritionally.
The following vitamin and mineral data is based on a per ounce (28-gram) serving (4).
|Vitamin||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Folate, DFE||2.55 mcg||0.6%|
|Vitamin A, RAE||0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin)||0.017 mg||1.4%|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.029 mg||2.2%|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||0.173 mg||1.1%|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||0.23 mg||4.6%|
|Vitamin B6||0.086 mg||5.1%|
|Vitamin B12||0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.425 mg||0.5%|
|Vitamin D||0 mcg||0%|
Coconut butter contains a relatively small quantity of most vitamins.
|Mineral||Amount||% Daily Value|
Coconut butter provides a varied range of essential minerals, and it is a particularly good source of copper and manganese.
Benefits of Coconut Butter
Here is an outline of the general benefits that coconut butter offers:
- Rich source of fiber: A single ounce (28g) serving of coconut butter provides four grams of fiber, signifying a high fiber content. The majority of fiber in coconut is insoluble, which can help add bulk to stools and promote regularity (5).
- Dairy-free: While coconut butter contains no dairy, it can contribute to a creamy texture in food in a similar way. This characteristic makes it a suitable option for individuals with allergies or sensitivities to dairy products. Given it is 100% plant-based, coconut butter is also a suitable choice for those following a vegan diet.
- A good source of minerals: Just 28 grams of coconut butter contains more than 25% of the daily value for copper and manganese, and more than 5% of the daily value for iron, magnesium, and zinc.
- Versatility: Highly adaptable, coconut butter can be used in ways similar to nut butters. It commonly features in curries, soups, and stews when a creamier or milder taste is desired. With its slightly sweet taste, coconut cream also works well in dessert recipes.
Despite its beneficial properties, coconut butter also has some clear drawbacks, summarized below:
- Expense: Coconut butter is relatively costly, retailing from approximately $7 to $15 per 15-ounce (425g) jar. In comparison, a bar of creamed coconut, offering similar nutritional properties, can be purchased for as low as $2 per 200g+ bar.
- Allergies: While coconut allergy is relatively rare, statistics from a nationally representative survey involving 78,851 participants indicate that about 0.39% of the U.S. population has a coconut allergy, translating to approximately 1 in 260 people (6). Any individual suspecting they have a coconut allergy should avoid coconut butter and seek guidance from their physician or a trusted medical professional.
- High in saturated fat: A single ounce (28g) of coconut butter contains 15 grams of saturated fat, equivalent to 75% of the recommended daily value of 20 grams (3). High intakes of saturated fat can lead to elevated LDL cholesterol levels, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (7, 8).
- Easy to over-consume: Similar to nut butters, coconut butter is a highly energy-dense and concentrated source of fat and overall calories. This may be fine when sticking to recommended usage, which is about two tablespoons (one-ounce) in a dish shared between multiple people. However, adding heaped tablespoons to a single meal for one person would significantly increase both calories and fat content. In other words, it is crucial to consume coconut butter in moderation.
Ideas On How To Use Coconut Butter
As mentioned throughout this article, coconut butter offers excellent versatility and we can use it in numerous ways.
To provide a better idea of its versatility, here are some ways in which coconut butter can be used:
- Curries, soups, and stews: Incorporate a serving of coconut butter into curries, soups, or stews to provide a creamy, slightly sweet taste. Additionally, the addition of coconut butter can moderate the spiciness of hot curries.
- Coffee or cocoa-based drinks: When added to black coffee, coconut butter acts as a creamer, providing a slightly sweeter and creamier drink. It will also work well in this regard when added to unsweetened cocoa drinks.
- Spread: It is common for people to use coconut butter as a spread on foods like pancakes, toast, and waffles.
- Coconut milk substitute: Mix an ounce serving (approximately two tablespoons) of coconut butter with half a cup of hot water. The coconut butter will dissolve, providing an alternative to coconut milk.
- Oatmeal/porridge: Incorporate a teaspoon of coconut butter into cooked oatmeal for a creamier texture and a hint of coconut flavor.
- Smoothies: Adding a teaspoon of coconut butter to a smoothie enhances its texture, introducing a mildly sweet coconut flavor.
- Baking: Coconut butter can be an ingredient in a diverse range of bakery products, from bread to cakes and cookies. Used in this way, it imparts a touch of sweetness and moisture to these foods.
These ideas are just a small selection of the ways we can use coconut butter. Fortunately, a simple online search can provide a broad range of coconut butter recipes to explore.
Is Coconut Butter a Healthy Choice?
Coconut butter isn’t really a food that offers valuable nutrients that we can’t find elsewhere.
Furthermore, is is quite high in saturated fat and overall calories. Care should be taken not to overconsume it.
That said, coconut butter can significantly enhance the taste and texture of various foods. Used occasionally in modest amounts, coconut butter can fit into an overall healthy dietary pattern.