The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is widely referred as the “tree of life” for its important role in the livelihoods of 10 million persons from over 90 countries globally. In Kenya, the coconut sub-sector is valued at KES 25 billion, yet only 65% is utilised, which is partly contributed by insufficient knowledge of the coconut’s physico-chemical features and investment in the sector. Physico-chemical analysis of four coconut varieties’ kernel grown in two counties (Kilifi and Kwale) of Kenya was carried out. Based on the de-husked coconut fruit, coconut kernel was the highest component (46.58 - 48.70%) in comparison to shell (25.93±0.72% - 28.46±0.29%) and water (23.75±1.07% - 27.11±1.49%) across the varieties. The colour of the coconut kernel was marked by generally high L* values (85.34 - 93.35) and low a* (0.51 - 0.81) and b* (1.53 - 2.20) values among the varieties confirming the milky- white colouration of the kernel. All the varieties contained high crude fat (35.01±1.0 - 38.28±1.09%) content. Fatty acid analysis profile revealed that lauric acid (45.91- 50.72%) was the predominant fatty acid. Most of the oil extract was saturated (91%) but comprising of middle chain fatty acids. This indicates stability for storage and suitability for use in ketogenic diets.
Key words: coconut kernel, coconut variety, colour, proximate analysis, fatty acid profile.
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