Coconut: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Botanical name

Cocos nucifera

Coconut is known to everyone; it is a long palm tree. Coconut is a heightened tree; it can grow up to 100 ft tall. The tree has pinnate leaves, usually 13–20 ft long, whereas pinnae are 2–3 ft long. The leaves of coconut trees break away when they get older by leaving the trunk smooth. When coconut trees plantation on fertile soil, the matured palm tree can yield about 75 fruits (coconut) yearly. There are two different varieties of coconut trees, i.e., tall and dwarf varieties. The dwarf variety grows fast, and it takes around 4 – 5 years to grow fully. The dwarf variety of coconut trees is self-pollinating due to the overlapping of female and male phases.

In tall varieties, they grow slowly and start bearing fruits between 6 – 10 years after their plantation. The tall variety produces better fruits than the dwarf variety in copra, oil, and fiber. Coconut fruit is composed of 38% shell, 10% water, and 52 % kernel. Botanically, the coconut fruit is not a true nut; it is a drupe. In Indian states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, the woven coconut trees are used to build wedding marquees. 

Sources of Coconut

After Indonesia and the Philippines, India is the largest coconut producing country. It is also important to know that In India, around 90% of coconut fruits are coming from four major states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

Other Names for Coconut 

  • In Sanskrit, it is known as Nārikela, Kalpa vriksha.
  • In Hindi, it is known as Naariyal.
  • In Marathi, it is known as Nāraḷa.
  • In English, it is known as Coconut.
  • In Kannada, it is known as Teṅgina kāyi.
  • In Tamil, it is known as Tēṅkāy.
  • In Telugu, it is known as Kobbari.
  • In Malayalam, it is known as Nāḷikēraṁ.

Important chemical constituents of Coconut

Coconut is rich in essential nutrients, and the composition of 80g of shredded coconut meat is given in the below table. Percent Daily Value (DV) means that one serving of fruit or product can provide a nutrient equivalent to our daily needs.

ComponentContent (per 80 g)
Carbohydrate10 g
Protein3 g
Fat27 g
Total calories283 Kcal
Fiber7 g
Magnesium60% DV
Iron11% DV
Potassium6% DV
Zinc 10% DV
Selenium15% DV
Phosphorus13% DV

Nutritional value of Coconut water and its benefits

Coconut water is found in the cavity of the coconut, and it is produced in the endosperm. Some reports state that there is 25% of coconut water in fruit to its weight. Coconut water is composed of 95.5% water, 0.1% fat 4% carbohydrates, 0.01% phosphorous, 0.02% calcium and 0.5% iron. It is also composed of micronutrients like vitamin B, vitamin C, amino acids, and mineral salts.

  • Coconut water is used as a natural drink for oral hydration. It is used in the daily diet since it is a good protein source along with different ingredients. 
  • At the time of the Second World War, Coconut water is used intravenously to treat soldiers and other patients suffering from blood loss when there is no availability of blood plasma.
  • Coconut water can be a good replacer of synthetic electrolyte since it is rich in potassium, it can help balance the electrolytes of the body.
  • One can include coconut water in the diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies of calcium and magnesium.
  • The benefits of coconut water are not limited to human beings; it is also used traditionally for micropropagation or plant tissue culture due to its contents like phytohormones, minerals, sugars, vitamins, and amino acids. 

Nutritional value of Coconut oil and its benefits

  • In the southern states of India, coconut oil is used in cooking or frying. 
  • Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats, especially in MCT (medium-chain triglycerides), and this uniqueness is different from other saturated oil. Therefore, coconut oil is used for daily cooking. 
  • Coconut oil helps maintain elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein, which helps boost heart health and lose weight. 
  • Coconut oil is a good source of antioxidants, and this can help provide the essential nutrients to strengthen hair growth.  

Medicinal benefits of coconut

  • Coconut is rich in copper and iron, which helps in the formation of RBC.
  • Coconut has an essential antioxidant, i.e., selenium, which protects cells from oxidative stress.
  • Coconut kernel and coconut water act as antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antidermatophytic, antiparasitic, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and hepatoprotective. 
  • Coconut water contains micro-nutrients, and they are important to maintain better health
  • Several topical formulations developed using coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut water used for treating hair loss and burns.
  • Coconut contains a high amount of manganese (60% DV). Manganese plays an important role in improving bone health. It also helps in the metabolism of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  • Traditionally, tender coconut water is used as an intravenous fluid for treating patients naturally.
  • Virgin coconut oil possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Coconut oil is best for treating rough hair or bad scalp and hair fall. 
  • Coconut oil can provide relief from scalp problems by providing essential nutrients and by nourishing hairs.
  • The roots of the coconut tree are used in the preparation of a dye and a mouthwash. It is also used for preparing a medicine for dysentery. 
  • The fresh and dried coconut meat contains enough fiber, and therefore it is used in the preparation of a variety of dishes.
  • The young leaves of coconut are ground to make a paste, and it is applied on cuts to stop bleeding.

Dosages of Coconut products

The ayurvedic dosage of Coconut products varies according to its variants. Different forms of Coconut products.

ProductPreparationDosage/ Day
CapsuleTake 1-2 coconut capsules with enough lukewarm water after the meal. 2 times
OilTake 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil after a meal as per requirement.
Milk powderTake ½ -1 teaspoon Coconut milk powder and mix it with ½ teaspoon Mishri. Take it after meals.

Side effects and Precautions While Using Coconut

  • Some peoples are allergic to Coconut milk and its products. Therefore, it has to be taken with precautions.
  • The higher dosages of coconut water increase the potassium levels of the blood, leading to irregular heartbeat and kidney problems.
  • Too much consumption of coconut oil can lead to nausea.

FAQs

How can I store the fresh Coconut meat?

There are ways to store the fresh coconut meat for further use. The fresh coconut meat is stored in refrigerated conditions (temperature; 8°C) for 4 days. To enhance coconut meat’s shelf life, grate the fresh Coconut meat followed by dipping it into the Coconut water. Then pack tightly for its further storage in the refrigerator. This process can extend the shelf life of coconut meat up to 6 months.

Can tender coconut water improves immunity?

Yes, coconut water drinking can boost immunity. And this can help in fighting different diseases and epidemic infections. It is rich in macro and micronutrient salts, which are good for athletics.

Can I use Coconut for Dandruff problems?

Yes, Coconut oil is used for treating Dandruff problems. Coconut oil can act as a moisturizer and contains antifungal components that can help in fighting fungal infections. Therefore, it is used to prevent dandruff and dry scalp problems.

In certain societies, the coconut has gained religious and cultural significance. Coconut trees are cultivated mainly for their medicinal and nutritional values. There are varieties of coconut products such as tender coconut water, coconut oil, copra, raw kernel, coconut toddy, coconut cake, and coconut shell. 

Read more about: Health Benefits of Shatavari

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.