Today we can identify many historical and modern day uses of coconut. Basically, a growing, widespread use of its derivatives can be attributed to its numerous, amazing properties.
Coconuts are borne on trees that grow in tropical climates, including tropical parts of the Unites States, like Florida and Hawaii. For years, its derivatives have been a staple of the island home, particularly in Caribbean and South-East Asian regions. This is due to its many uses and benefits.
The Properties and Benefits of the Coconut
Coconuts are essentially the seeds of the woody husk on the palm tree. These seeds, contain a meat as well as a clear liquid inside, known as coconut water. Additionally, by extraction from the meat of the mature coconut, we get coconut oil, milk and cream.
The 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 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, Island 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.
Derivatives like coconut oil, milk 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.
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!
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>