I think that we can all agree that the low fodmap diet can be difficult to navigate – it has taken me over 3 years and still I continue to find it difficult sometimes! Coconut causes significant confusion as there is conflicting information on the fodmap status of the numerous coconut products out there.
The main problems lie in that there are many different coconut products and it seems, from my research, that each product has a different fodmap rating. If you want to find out what my research has told me, please read on…
1. Coconut Water. In small quantities (100ml) coconut water is a low fodmap option. However in quantities of 250ml, coconut water is high in fodmaps, specifically polyols (ooohh, I broke up with polyols for good in a previous post…). I sourced this information from Monash University, so it is highly credible.
2. Shredded or desiccated coconut. According to the Monash University’s Low Fodmap App 1/4 cup or 18g serve is low in fodmap’s and should be tolerated by most people with IBS. However, 1/2 cup serve or 37g can be problematic for those who malabsorb polyols (like I do!). So, that is good news for those of us who like to bake with a little coconut or like it on our breakfast cereal. Keep our quantities small and we are OK!
3. Coconut oil. This product doesn’t contain carbohydrates and as such is not a fodmap, however coconut oil, like all fats can trigger IBS symptoms in some people, so be cautious (also sourced from the Monash University low Fodmap App). Coconut oil is a wonderful product, so start with small quantities and see how you go. When I first started using coconut oil I preferred the refined version as it does not have a strong flavour, and over time I have found that I also like the virgin coconut oil as it has a lovely nutty, sweet flavour.
4. Coconut milk/cream. According to the Monash University Low Fodmap App (yes, truly the most useful app of all time), up to 1/2 cup of coconut milk is safe for IBS suffers! Hooray!! Coconut milk is a wonderful alternative to cream if you are dairy or lactose intolerant. I often use it for desserts (try my coconut ice-cream!) and yoghurt and I am relieved that it has the green light. Note: I have found that the coconut content of coconut milk varies considerably and so I believe we should be cautious in this area. For example, I have personally found that I am more sensitive to Ayam coconut milk which is the more premium brand with a higher amount of coconut in the finished product – 82% coconut extract. My personal choice is TCC coconut milk (a mid-range product with 53% coconut extract) as I find that I tolerate it quite well.
5. Coconut flour. I am sorry to say that the jury is out on coconut flour, so unfortunately I am not able to give you an official, research-based outcome on this. I can however share with you my own personal experience of coconut flour. For myself, coconut flour is high fodmap, particularly in larger quantities. Having said that, some of my favourite recipes use only a little coconut flour (a teaspoon in the whole recipe for example), and I am fine with that small amount. So, be cautious and aware that you may be intolerant to coconut flour too.
6. Coconut sugar or coconut nectar. Again, there is no official Fodmap test to give final verification on this, however there are indications that it has a similar fructose level to honey, in which case it is it a fodmap and not suitable for those who are fructose intolerant. Personally, I don’t go near the stuff as fructose is hazardous for me and I strongly suspect that coconut sugar is high fodmap.
Coconut products are very good for us and are readily available these days, so now it is good to know that even on the low fodmap diet we can safely enjoy some of the benefits of coconut and, most importantly, are able to avoid the ones that we need to.
All the best,