Coconut yields many benefits outside of its well-known health properties. Discover the lesser-known purposes this remarkable tree is harvested for.
Coconut trees grow tall, majestic and beautify the natural landscape of coastal areas and river beds. The tall trunks are distinctly absent of branches.
The long, slim and pointy leaves that grow at the top signify that they belong to the palm family. However, the trees bear fruits that are much larger and tougher.
The fruits, green when young, golden or brown when aged, are the trees’ way of propagation. Filled with water, the fruits float when they drop into the sea or rivers. Following where the tide goes, these fruits will eventually end up on land and grow to become new trees.
Besides continuing the lifeline of the coconut genre, the fruits have many beneficial properties.
One of the most immediate and common uses of young coconuts (that is provided one can crack open the tough shells) is the slightly sweet and refreshing coconut water inside that can quench any thirst. The white flesh (sometimes referred to as meat) that lines the inner shells are also crunchy and can fill up one’s stomach quickly.
Health Benefits of Coconuts
Other than being a delicious drink, the coconut fruit has many benefits and uses. By no means exhaustive, here are some of them:
- Coconut water has many minerals and vitamins that rehydrates the body, and antioxidants that keep free radicals at bay.
- In countries where durians are in high demand, coconut water is often marketed as a companion drink because it is believed that its “cooling properties” neutralise the durians’ “heatiness.” It keeps the yin and the yang balanced.
- Coconut flesh shavings can be sprinkled on cakes to improve the presentation and enhance the taste.
- Coconut milk, squeezed out of coconut flesh shavings, is delicious when used as part of the ingredients in baking.
- Whether in oil or milk form, it has a distinct fragrance that enhances the flavour of food such as curry and even rice in its plainest form.
- Coconut oil can be used for cooking. It can conveniently replace other cooking oil and butter for frying.
- Nowadays, people drink coconut oil by the spoonful daily. It is believed that the oil is high in good saturated fats which give the body an energy boost and keep the heart healthy. However, it is best to consult a physician because overdosing on oil can also cause health risks.
- Coconut oil is also believed to have antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria and viruses. It can be used externally and as mentioned above, ingested.
- The oil may work as a moisturiser for dry skin and may help to relieve eczema.
- Frequent essential oil users will be familiar with coconut oil as a source of carrier oil to dilute the concentrated essential oils for application.
- Both the oil and milk are often used as hair conditioners, too, because they moisturise and keep hair soft and shiny.
Other Benefits of Coconuts
Besides the fruits, at some point in our lives, we have all seen in some movies, cartoons or comics where a character is marooned in a small little island. To escape, the character chops some of the coconut trees down, creates a makeshift raft and sails away to freedom!
In real life, things are unlikely to go that drastic but yes, coconut trunks can be used for furniture and their leaves can be weaved into baskets or turned into brooms. Some shelters and even houses have thatch roofs lined with dried coconut leaves.
The dried husks from the fruit are often disposed but they could be used as fibres to stuff cushions, functioned as cover for the top of the soil in gardening and landscaping, and turned into mats and brushes.
The fruit shells make great ornaments too. Shellacked or coloured, they make great little planters and traditional pots. Coconut flowers and roots are believed to have medicinal properties, particularly to improve kidney functions.
It’s no wonder the coconut tree is sometimes referred to as the Tree of Life. With its many uses and life improvement properties, coconut is like a miracle created as a blessing for humankind.