Historical and Modern Day Uses of Coconut

historical and modern day uses of coconut

The coconut has always been used for beauty, health and household purposes. In fact, today, a growing, widespread use of its derivatives can be attributed to their numerous, amazing properties. 

Characterized as a fruit, nut and seed, coconuts are borne on palm trees, which grow in tropical and subtropical climates. These regions include the Caribbean and South-East Asia; as well as tropical parts of the Unites States, like Florida and Hawaii. 

Coconuts are essentially seeds of the woody husks on a palm tree. These seeds, contain a meat as well as a clear liquid inside, known as coconut water. Yet, when we extract the meat of a mature coconut, we also get coconut oil, milk and cream.

The Properties and Benefits of the Coconut

uses of coconutThe benefits of the coconut are endless. Even the Bible mentions the palm tree in Psalm 92:12, whereby likening the righteous man to the fruitfulness and standing of this nutrient-rich, fruit bearing tree.

Coconut water for instance, is renowned for its high nutritional content. Similarly, the meat of the coconut is rich in a variety of important nutrients, including Protein, Calcium, Fiber, Iron and Vitamins B6, C and E. It also contains Potassium, Niacin, Thiamin, Magnesium and Folate (USDA).

Combined, these nutrients contribute to bone and teeth formation, as well as red blood cell formation, blood pressure regulation, and immune system and nervous system function. Additionally, the vitamin C and E provide antioxidant properties—they help prevent and reduce damage to the cells caused by free radicals. Yet vitamin C also contributes to wound healing, as well as collagen and connective tissue formation. This means it helps to bring about a more youthful looking skin.

So needless to say, the reasons to incorporate all its derivatives into our self-care regimen and diets, are endless!

Historical, Everyday Uses of Coconut

We see now that the coconut’s derivatives all offer unique benefits to the body, hair and skin. However, we can’t just stop there—as countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, as well as several West Indian islands have found significant ways to utilize all aspects of the coconut.

1. Cooking

Derivatives like coconut oilmilk and cream are common ingredients in  island and West Indian cuisine. This includes various rice dishes, as well as recipes involving chicken, seafood and even drinks, sweets and desserts. 

uses of coconut

2. Crafts and more

Islanders are known for using coconut leaves to create baskets. It is also used for roofing in certain cultures; some, even still to this day.

3. Household Uses

Many West Indian baby boomers can also remember using the dried husk as a brush to polish and shine floors and shoes.

4. Hair & Skin-Care

For these same baby boomers, coconut oil was the hair and skin moisturizer used by everyone in the home. This is because coconut oil was known, even back then, for its many health and beauty properties.

Current, Widespread Everyday Uses of Coconut

These days, the consumption of coconut derivatives, particularly coconut oil and coconut water are very widespread. Coconut oil, for instance, in its pure state, is not just a favorite of islanders. Over the years, it has gained a reputation for being an ideal natural oil for cooking and to support a personal health and beauty regimen. This includes being among the most well-known natural hair loss treatments.

Today, you can also find many coconut oil hair and skin-care products on the market. In fact, these days, countless beauty, as well as food products now feature all of the coconut’s derivatives. This is essentially in an effort to take advantage of their huge and vast benefits!

uses of coconut oil

FDA. Vitamins and Minerals Chart. <https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/factsheets/vitamin_and_mineral_chart.pdf>
USDA. "Nuts, coconut meat, raw."National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release.<https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/">
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Antioxidants: In Depth. <https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm>
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