Dear coconut gods: I love you. Thank you for bestowing your gifts of bounty upon me and this planet. Since the first time I visited Thailand I have been obsessed with coconuts. There is nothing like an ice cold coconut after a long night of partying to restore electrolytes and replenish, and no better natural moisturizer than coconut oil. If you’ve read my other work, you know I’m a sucker for anything simultaneously good for me and and the environment. I think it’s silly to waste time and money on chemical-products when nature provides better and more sustainably . The coconut is a perfect example.

Here is my ode to the glorious coconut. Enjoy this list of coconut lore, facts, and uses. Message me for CAA (Coconut Addicts Anonymous) meetings.

    1. The name coconut, comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word coco, which means “monkey face.” Do you think the holes in a coconut look like a monkey’s face too?
    2. In Sanskrit it is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning “tree which gives all that is necessary for living.” True words. How could you make a decent pina colada without coconut?
    3. The coconut is not in fact a nut, it is the largest seed known.
    4. Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrients for hair. It provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair, thus helping hair grow strong, healthy, and sexy.
    5. Coconut water has been used in an IV emergency replacement. Since it is nearly identical to human blood, it is suitable for people of all blood types.
    6. Coconut juice or coconut water is the liquid inside a coconut.
    7. Coconut milk is produced by steeping grated coconut in hot water then straining.
    8. Coconut cream is made either by cooking down coconut milk until it thickens, chilling coconut milk and skimming the cream off the top, or steeping the coconut in hot milk instead of water.
    9. Coconut oil is made by drying shredded coconut and pressing out the oil. Or it can also be made by fermenting the milk for one or two days, causing the oil to separate, and then skimming off the oil for use.
    10. Coconut oil is considered the best and safest oil to use for cooking.

    1. Unlike other fats and oils that we typically use for cooking and baking, coconut oil does not form polymerized oils or dangerous trans fatty acids in our bodies, which can raise our cholesterol levels; clog our arteries and even make our skin sag and wrinkle. (Yuck.)
    2. Coconut water has the highest concentration of electrolytes than anything else found in nature. (Take that Gatorade!)
    3. Simply regularly rubbing coconut oil on your teeth can protect them from bacteria that can cause cavities and disease.
    4. In Bali, women are forbidden to touch coconut palms for fear of draining the fertility of the tree into the woman.
    5. Rubbing coconut oil onto skin delays wrinkles and helps prevent the sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age.
    6. Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight, partially because it contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight and increased metabolism.
    7. Coconut oil is very easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems.
    8. Eating coconut oil with other foods helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. I like to put some virgin oil in my power smoothies in the morning so my body soaks up all the nutrients.
    9. When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus.
    10. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues. Basically proving my point that coconuts are a drunk’s best friend.

    1. When buying a fresh coconut, shake the coconut. It should slosh with liquid and sound full.
    2. Fresh unopened coconuts can be stored at room temperature for up to four months, depending on their original freshness when purchased.
    3. One medium-sized fresh coconut will on average yield 3 to 4 cups grated or flaked coconut and 1 cup of liquid.
    4. Coconuts are considered an aphrodisiac because of their ability to stimulate the production of hormones in both males and females.
    5. Coconuts and their oil contain large amount of the fatty acid known as lauric acid, which is the predominant fatty acid found in mother’s milk. One of the benefits of that is a strengthening of the immune system.
    6. Most coconut oil sold in markets is refined. The excessive heat, bleaching and chemical solvents used in the refining process creates a thick, yellowish-white product that is tasteless and odorless.
    7. Only the organic, extra virgin, expeller or hand pressed coconut oil retains its white color, light texture and mild taste, and has the scent of fresh coconut. Look for virgin unrefined coconut oil at your health food store.
    8. Coconut meat is super high in dietary fiber (even rivaling other fiber sources such as psyllium, wheat bran, oat bran, and rice bran), supplying an impressive 61% dietary fiber! Since the body cannot digest the dietary fiber in coconut, no calories are derived from it and it has no effect on blood sugar.
    9. Coconut oil has an extremely high melting point compared to most oils (about 24 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore it is solid at room temperature and melts only when the temperatures go high. I’ve purchased coconut oil overseas in hot countries in pretty bottles with small tops, and then when I get back home to San Francisco the coconut oil has solidified and I have had to warm up the bottle under hot water to get the oil out.
    10. A small number of writings about coconuts mention the existence of the coconut pearl, but this is generally considered a hoax.

    1. One of the earliest mentions of the coconut also dates back to the One Thousand and One Nights story of Sinbad the Sailor, he is known to have bought and sold coconuts during his fifth voyage.
    2. In the Philippines, the coconut is commonly called the “tree of life”.
    3. Coconut water can be fermented to produce coconut vinegar.
    4. Buds of adult plants are edible, and are known as “palm cabbage” or heart of palm. They are considered a rare delicacy, as harvesting the buds kills the palms.
    5. The Philippines is the world’s top producer of coconuts.
    6. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry.
    7. The stiff mid-ribs of coconut leaves are used for making brooms in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
    8. Coir (the fiber from the husk of the coconut) is used in ropes, mats, door mats, brushes, sacks, caulking for boats and as stuffing fiber for mattresses
    9. The roots are used as a dye, a mouthwash, and a medicine for diarrhea and dysentery.
    10. Botanically, the coconut palm is not a tree since there is no bark, no branches, or secondary growth. (So basically a coconut is not a nut and a coconut tree is not a tree)

  1. Coconut water is a great source of potassium.
  2. The tree fronds make great thatched roofs.
  3. Coconut shells are used to make tools, cooking utensils, and jewelry among other things.
  4. Don’t get Cream of Coconut mixed up with Coconut Cream. Cream of Coconut is thinner, sweetened, and generally more processed.
  5. It has been estimated that 150 people each year are killed by falling coconuts.
  6. In 2005 a tsunami victim was discovered in a small island off of India where he had survived on nothing but coconuts for 25 days.
  7. Funny how cultures differ in their racist slang. In the US the term “oreo” is used to describe people who are “black on the outside but white on the inside.” In South Africa they don’t use “oreo“, they use “coconut” for the same general purpose.
  8. In some parts of the world, most notably Malaysia and Thailand, monkeys are specially trained to harvest ripe coconuts.
  9. In many Southeast Asian countries there are various traditions involving honoring the gods with coconut offerings.
  10. They taste really really really good.
  11. Bonus! Check out this healthy(-ish) pina colada recipe!

Sources of info: shape, homecooking, akssara, focused nutrition, organic facts, wikipedia, diary of numbers, coconut.com

 

photo credits: cut coconut, lookslikeamy, coconut beach, sri lanka temple, peeling a coconut, coconut vendor

* post written by Kyra Bramble. To read more of Kyra’s, check out her website.