Coconut For Everyday Life

By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.

Email: fihealthie@gmail.com

Coconut, fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos Nucifera), a tree of the palm family (Arecaceae). Coconut flesh is high in fat and can be dried or eaten fresh. Parts of coconut and its uses are listed down below:

Coconut Husk.

  • It is used to make Coconut husk chips, Coconut peat, Coir fiber, Coconut crush.
  • It is the best natural organic growing medium in the world. It gives good soil enrichment to the plants by decomposing very quickly.
  • Often used to make doormats and brushes.
  • It can also be used to make twine, particle board, and sustainable packing material.
  • Used as a component in mattresses and floor tiles.

Coconut Shell.

Coconut shell is converted to multiple usages as

Coconut Shell Activated Charcoal (1)

Since it is 100% natural, it is completely safe. It is obtained by various processes that involve burning the shells of matured coconuts in a kiln with a limited amount of air. The shells are burnt to a particular limit without completely destroying them. They are burnt to a consistency that it has a minimum of 72% fixed carbon and it is uniformly black in colour.

Coconut Shell Powder (1)

  • Coconut shell powder is used extensively in the manufacturing of mosquito coils and incense sticks.
  • It is also used in plywood manufacturing as a phenolic extruder and as filler in the manufacturing of resin glue.
  • It has uniform quality and good resistance to water and fungal attacks.
  • Good quality coconut shell powder is obtained by using matured coconut shells and appropriate machinery.
  • It is preferable in manufacturing of air and water purifiers, odour eliminators and even building golf courses.
  • Most of handmade decorative are created by using coconut shell due to their thickness and strength.

Musical Instruments And Handicrafts (2)

  • Container: Use the coconut shell to keep trinkets, treasures and small items in. Things to keep inside might include rubber bands, keys, toys, pens and pencils, twist ties, your stash of used plastic bags, etc.
  • Plant holder: Grow a small plant in the coconut shell. While half a coconut shell can work, having it cut about three quarters of its height is usually the best size for a coconut shell plant holder. Drill or pierce some drainage holes in the base of the shell first, and line with sphagnum moss.
  • Bird feeder: Turn into a hanging bird feeder. Drill some holes at even spaces around the top and thread through some heavy twine or thin rope. Tie at the top with a ring or similar to allow for hanging. Fill with birdseed and hang in an appropriate place. Clean regularly.
  • Children’s crafts: Have the kids use their imagination to turn coconut shell halves into heads, faces, toys, decorations or anything else that takes their fancy.
  • Basket: As with the idea for the bird feeder, add heavy string or light rope to form a hanging handle. Use the coconut shell basket to carry things in, such as freshly cut herbs and flowers, freshly laid eggs and seeds from your garden.
  • Natural candle holder: If you like making your own candles, use the coconut as the container into which you tip the wax. Keep the wick centered and it’ll be a great candle for many hours.
  • Bowl: As a bowl, the shell can hold anything you like. A fun thing to try is a bowl of nuts still in their shells; try macadamias, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts, for example. Keep a nutcracker nearby to encourage snacking on healthy nuts.

Other Uses

  • Lampshade: You could carve a whole shell with neat holes in a pretty pattern. Add a globe and lamp base and you’ll have a wonderful lamp with many light patterns glowing from it.
  • Jewelry: Carve pieces of the shell into necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. Designs for barrettes and elastics can be carved for hair accessories.
  • Painting: If you have good artist skills, paint an image on the coconut shell.
  • Coconut buttons: Carve buttons from the coconut shell fragments. Durable and pretty.

Coconut Meat

The raw white meat inside a coconut is referred to as the kernel. It has a firm texture and delicious, slightly sweet flavor. Coconut milk and cream are made by pressing the raw, grated meat. Dried coconut meat is usually grated or shaved and used in cooking or baking. It can be further processed and ground into flour. Coconut oil is also extracted from the meat.

Highly Nutritious

The minerals in coconut are involved in many functions in your body. Coconuts are especially high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol (3).

Blood Sugar

Beta cells in their pancreas started making more insulin — a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar. Researchers suspected the improved beta-cell function was also due to the high amounts of arginine found in coconut (4). The high fiber content of coconut meat can also help slow digestion and improve insulin resistance, which can help regulate blood sugar levels as well (5).

Antioxidants

Coconut meat contains phenolic compounds, which are antioxidants that may help protect cells from oxidative damage. The main phenolic compounds identified include (6)

  • Gallic acid
  • Caffeic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • P-Coumaric acid

Lab tests on coconut meat have shown that it has antioxidant and free-radical-scavenging activity.

Coconut Water

Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes.

Kidney Stones

In a study with kidney stones, coconut water prevented crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. It also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine (7). Researchers believe that coconut water helped reduce free radical production that occurred in response to high oxalate levels in urine.

Heart Health

In one study, species that consumed coconut water had reductions in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. They also experienced significant decreases in liver fat (8). In another study, the same researchers fed a similar diet supplemented with the same dosage (4 ml per 100 grams of body weight) of coconut water. After 45 days, the coconut water group had a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels that rivaled the effects of a statin drug used to lower cholesterol (9).

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is almost 100% fat, most of which is saturated fat. However, the structure of fat in coconut oil differs from that of many animal products.

Fat Burning

The MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories your body burns compared with longer-chain fatty acids (10). One study found that eating 15–30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5% (11)

It reduces hunger as the way your body metabolizes fats, because ketones can reduce a person’s appetite. In one study, 6 healthy men ate varying amounts of MCTs and LCTs. Those who ate the most MCTs ate fewer calories per day (12).

Reduce Seizure

The diet dramatically reduces the rate of seizures in children with epilepsy, even those who haven’t had success with multiple types of drugs. Reducing carb intake and increasing fat intake leads to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood. Because the MCTs in coconut oil get transported to your liver and turned into ketones, healthcare professionals may use a modified keto diet that includes MCTs and a more generous carb allowance to induce ketosis and help treat epilepsy (13, 14).

Skin, Hair and Teeth

Many people use it for cosmetic purposes to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair. Studies show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of dry skin and reduce the symptoms of eczema (15).

Coconut oil can also protect against hair damage as it may work as a weak sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays (16).

Oil pulling, which involves swishing coconut oil in your mouth like mouthwash, may kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth. This may improve dental health and reduce bad breath, though more research is needed (17).

Reference:

  1. http://www.vashiniexports.com/blog/main-uses-of-coconut-shells/
  2. https://www.appropedia.org/Uses_for_coconut_shells
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24470093/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21050842/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29378044/
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2015.1099042
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23489503/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17004906/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18809454/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25636220/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8654328/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8696422/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27249895/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23515148/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15724344/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12715094/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18408265/

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