Coconuts pack a nutritional punch, but are they really powerful enough to sustain you through a hypothetical island survival situation? And for just how long could you survive on this fruit alone?
Let’s start with some numbers...
One cup of raw coconut meat has roughly 24 grams of fat and 283 calories. Its liquid, coconut water, has 20mg of vitamin C per 100ml (65-90mg per day being the recommended intake for an adult) and is a good source of potassium. As a bonus, the coconut shell could be burned for fuel or used to catch extra rainwater.
Lynne Whelehan, a food and fitness blogger, points to a man that lived on coconuts during WWI for 12 years – at the end of which he weighed 39 kilos. So while it’s possible, she notes, it’s perhaps not advisable. “I’m sure he would have had nutritional deficiencies.” This makes sense, given that – approximately – two large coconuts can provide the daily calories required by the average woman, but only around a third of her recommended daily protein intake.
So where does that leave us for island survival? Licensed UAE dietician Nadine Tayara points to a few basic facts: humans can last around three weeks without food but only a few days without water. “If you’re stranded on an island with only coconuts, the good thing is you have both food and water to eat and drink.”
Ultimately, it seems you might be able to survive but certainly not thrive on a diet of only coconuts on a deserted island, for a while at least. But the professionals don’t recommend you try it at home. Always keep that diet varied, eat fruits and vegetables, and throw in coconuts as a healthy treat.