Coconut Craze: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

It seems people can’t get enough of coconut. Is it as healthy as we think?

ByABC News
March 11, 2015, 12:08 PM

— -- It seems people can’t get enough of coconuts, including self-professed fans such as Rihanna, Jessica Alba and Heidi Klum.

Coconut water, coconut oil and coconut milk are huge hits.

With people talking up the health benefits of coconut, is it all it’s really cracked up to be?

"It's good in some cases, not really in others," said Dave Zinczenko, ABC News’ nutrition and wellness editor. "If you're doing cold dishes or salads, olive oil is so superior."

Both olive oil and coconut oil have about 120 calories per tablespoon, but while olive oil has only 2 grams of saturated fat, coconut oil has 12 grams.

If you consume coconut products to quench your thirst, here is something you should now.

One cup of coconut milk has 552 calories and 51 grams of saturated fat. One cup of whole milk has 146 calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat.

"Coconut milk is great if you're vegan," said Lisa Drayer, author of “The Beauty Diet." "It's easy to digest. It's great if you have a milk allergy or if you're lactose intolerant."

"That being said, coconut milk packs calories," she said.

As for coconut water, one cup contains 46 calories.

Zinczenko recommends choosing coconut water over water only if you are exercising a lot.

“It's the electrolytes and the hydration and getting a lot of potassium into your system quickly," he said of coconut water's appeal for gym-goers.

Drayer says coconut food and beverages can be part of a healthful diet but people should be aware.

“These foods and beverages can contain a lot of calories and this can quickly add on some unwanted pounds," she said. "So you want to make sure to read labels."