Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, but most commonly affects the colon and the end of the small intestine, which is known as the terminal ileum (
Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and unintended weight loss. It can also lead to anemia and other nutritional deficiencies, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and more (2).
Crohn’s can be an incredibly disruptive disease. Medical treatments, which range from regular medication and steroids to surgery, have varying levels of success, so many people look for other ways to manage their condition (
Diet may play a role in Crohn’s disease, and certain foods and dietary patterns have been shown to reduce or increase the risk of flares (or an increase in symptoms). However, relationships between foods and symptoms appear highly individual (
There has been some speculation that eating coconut macaroons may alleviate Crohn’s symptoms, and this article explores the plausibility of this.
Coconut macaroons are cookies made from egg whites, sweetened shredded coconut, sugar, and vanilla, and some contain condensed milk.
Online articles and forums promote the use of coconut macaroons and other coconut products to treat diarrhea in people with Crohn’s disease.
However, to date, there has not been any research among humans to test the benefits of coconut macaroons on diarrhea or other Crohn’s disease symptoms.
One very small 2008 study among monkeys tested this theory and found that eating coconut macaroons did not relieve diarrhea symptoms. But this doesn’t tell us much about whether or not it would help humans with Crohn’s disease (
That means there’s a need for human research into potential links between coconut and Crohn’s disease symptoms.
Despite the online hype, there hasn’t been any research to support the use of coconut macaroons or any individual ingredients for treating diarrhea or other Crohn’s symptoms.
Foods that bring on symptoms of Crohn’s disease will vary from one individual to another, and there is no one food that will universally worsen (or improve) Crohn’s symptoms for everyone.
However, Crohn’s is multifaceted, and there are other dietary contributors to diarrhea in people with Crohn’s. These may include difficulty absorbing high fat foods, eating too much of certain types of fiber, high sugar intake, or sorbitol sensitivity (
On the flip side, diets that reduce inflammation may be helpful for those with Crohn’s. These diets tend to limit sugar and other refined carbohydrates, which may contribute to inflammation, though more research is needed (7).
Since coconut macaroons are high in fat and sugar, it’s possible that they could exacerbate symptoms for some people, especially if eaten in excess. Again, though, overall dietary patterns are what matter for most people, rather than individual foods (
It’s possible that regularly consuming coconut macaroons could make symptoms worse in some people, though there’s no research to support avoiding any one food in treatment of Crohn’s disease.
While no individual food is likely to treat Crohn’s symptoms, overall dietary patterns have been shown to be helpful for some people.
A Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to be beneficial for many people with Crohn’s. This includes eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, olive oil, beans and legumes, whole grains, and fish (
Remember that choosing an eating pattern rooted in the principles of the Mediterranean diet doesn’t have to mean giving up your cultural foods.
For example, learn more about giving the Mediterranean diet a Caribbean twist here.
Some people also respond well to the low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) diet and specific carb diet. These diets eliminate certain carbs that have been shown to cause gastrointestinal distress in some people (
Both of those diets, unlike the Mediterranean diet, require limiting certain carbs and can be extremely difficult to follow. If you are considering one of these diets, work closely with a healthcare team, including a registered dietitian (RD), to navigate them.
Concerned about costs? Many health professionals, including RDs, accept health insurance or can adjust fees based on a sliding scale as needed to help make their services more affordable.
Dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean Diet, specific carb diet, and low FODMAP diet may be helpful for some people in reducing symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. Work with healthcare professionals like an RD to determine the best diet for you.
If you are struggling with Crohn’s symptoms like diarrhea and other interventions have not helped, you may decide to try eating coconut macaroons.
There isn’t any research to support the benefits, but eating a couple of macaroons per day as a test is unlikely to be harmful, either.
It’s important to note that because there isn’t evidence to support eating these cookies, there is also no known amount that may or may not be helpful.
However, eating several cookies every day may not be a healthful choice overall and could crowd out other, more nutritious foods. So, if you do decide to test out this theory, do so in moderation — perhaps with one or two small cookies per day.
There is no evidence that coconut macaroons do or don’t treat Crohn’s symptoms, and relationships between foods and symptoms can vary person to person. Trying a macaroon or two per day is unlikely to cause harm.
There isn’t any evidence to support the hype that coconut macaroons are helpful in treating Crohn’s symptoms. However, a daily macaroon is unlikely to make symptoms worse either.
That said, because macaroons are high in sugar and offer little nutrition, eating too many of them regularly could be problematic, especially if they replace more nutritious foods in your diet.
If you do decide to try them, track your symptoms closely to determine if they have any effect.
Just one thing
Try this today: When you live with a chronic illness, it’s important to prioritize self-care that supports your comfort and overall wellbeing. Learn about creating a Crohn’s disease self-care routine, including nutrition tips, here.