Whether you like piña coladas or coconut curry, it’s a great time of year to celebrate delicious and nutritious coconuts. Here are a few fun facts that can help you make more of this versatile fruit:

Coconuts are Not Nuts

Allergic to nuts? You’re in luck. Despite their name, coconuts are not nuts at all. Nor are they a major food allergen. So what are they exactly?

“Coconuts are drupes, which is a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed,” says Len Monheit, executive director of the Coconut Coalition of the Americas. “If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The FDA officially classifies coconuts as ‘tree nuts,’ which is not only inaccurate, but potentially misleading to consumers with nut allergies.”

All that may change soon, though. The Coconut Coalition of the Americas is spearheading an effort to get coconuts re-classified in the hopes that more people can enjoy coconuts without concern.

Coconuts are Good for You

Coconuts contain a high amount of dietary fiber, as well as protein and many essential minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron and selenium, making them a beneficial health food you can feel good about feeding your family.

While coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it’s important to note that it’s different from other kinds of saturated fats. Containing MCTS and lauric acid, coconut oil is anti-bacterial, lowers triglycerides and increases HDL (aka good cholesterol).

Coconuts are Versatile

Coconuts are used in oils, flour, water, non-dairy milk, snacks and more and can be enjoyed around the clock. Here are a few ideas for incorporating this fruit into your day:

• At breakfast: Top oatmeal with grated coconut for a flavor and nutrition boost.

• At lunch: Cook your favorite grain in coconut milk. On top of your grain, layer roasted and pickled veggies, as well as grilled protein for a complete meal.

• At dinner: Make coconut-crusted fish, chicken or tofu by mixing coconut flakes in with your regular breading mixture.

• For dessert: Explore the world of coconut-based desserts, from coconut cream pie to macaroons to chocolate coconut cake. Or, beat the heat of the oven and use coconut in a fresh fruit salad.

To learn more about coconuts and their benefits, visit CoconutCoalition.org.

With the right facts and information under your belt, it’s time to discover new ways to enjoy this versatile fruit. (StatePoint)