The coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm, Cocos Nucifera. It provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
People in tropical Asia use coconuts and their products in many ways --
- Coconut water is drunk directly out of the unripe fruit as a common refresher
- The grated and dried endosperm is used to thicken sauces a
- Oil is extracted from this grated endosperm, which is a popular frying medium.
- Palm Sugar is extracted from its stem.
- Its sap is fermented to yield toddy, an alcoholic beverage. From toddy, the highly intoxicating drink arrack is prepared by distillation, and further fermentation of toddy gives the mild palm vinegar.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life."
Coconut In Folk Medicine
People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine.
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems --
- Irregular or painful menstruation
- Kidney stones
- Skin infections
- Sore throat
- About Coconuts