Coconut Products: Nutrition, Benefits, Uses, & More
by Vickie Chin on Jun 22, 2023
Coconut has a rich history of both culinary and medicinal use across many cultures.
The origins of coconuts can be linked back to Southeast Asia, including countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India. Sometimes referred to as the “tree of life,” coconuts have served as a source of sustenance and nutritional value for thousands of years.
From a culinary perspective, coconuts have long been a staple in the diets of tropical communities. Thanks to the water contained within coconuts, the fruits are an excellent source of both nutrients and hydration. Plus, one of the main benefits of coconut, is that it can be used to create coconut oil, which is great for cooking and other uses.
Beyond culinary uses of coconut, it also has a deep history in food-based medicine.
Practitioners around the world have used different parts of the coconut to help treat various ailments, such as using coconut water as a remedy for dehydration or eating coconut flesh for its anti-inflammatory properties. The potential health benefits of coconuts are seemingly endless.
In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about coconut products, including key nutritional facts, health benefits, and practical uses of coconut.
Keep reading to find out where you can obtain the best coconut products for your day-to-day life.
Coconuts are a highly nutritious food that offers many key health benefits, including:
- Antibacterial effects
- Rehydration and electrolytes
- Blood sugar control
- Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, coconuts contain a wide range of different vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Vitamin C
Coconuts also possess small amounts (less than 1 mg per serving) of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, folic acid, and Vitamins B12, A, E, D, and K.
5 of the Most Popular Coconut Products
The cultivation of coconuts around the world has come a long way since the historic uses of the fruit.
Today, coconut products can be purchased in a variety of different forms, from oils and butters, to dried powders, shreds, and sugars.
Here are five of the most popular coconut products to try out:
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is easily the most used coconut product. It is an edible oil extracted from the flesh of coconuts that is obtained through a process of cold pressing.
The most common use of coconut oil is as a cooking oil used to replace heavier and less nutritious oils, such as vegetable or canola oil. For culinary purposes, coconut oil can be used for sautéing, frying, or baking, and it is a common ingredient in many traditional dishes in tropical regions.
When used for cooking, coconut oil adds a distinct flavour to your meals.
Beyond its culinary uses, coconut oil has numerous health benefits and has a long history of use outside of the kitchen as a skin care and hair care product. This oil has naturally occurring moisturizing and hydrating properties that make it an exceptional natural alternative to more chemically-based skin and hair products.
Coconut oil can also be found in various cosmetic products like lotions and hair conditioners.
Although coconut oil has gained popularity for its many culinary and non-culinary uses, it is important to keep in mind that this type of oil does have a high saturated fat content. As such, coconut oil should be used in moderation as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
2. Coconut Butter
Coconut butter is a creamy, spreadable substance crafted from pureed and processed coconut flesh.
The process of making coconut butter involves the breaking down of shredded or dried coconut until it reaches a smooth consistency. Like coconut oil, coconut butter is commonly used in the kitchen — though it is less commonly used as a skin or hair care product due to being a heavier product.
For culinary uses, coconut butter offers a rich and tropical flavour that can be used for:
- Spreads: Coconut butter is typically made as a ready-to-use product that can work great as a spread for crackers, toast, and other foods. This can be used as an alternative to dairy-based and nut-based butter that offers a fruitier, lighter taste.
- Smoothies: Adding a spoonful of coconut butter to your smoothie recipes can help bring out the natural flavors of the fruits you use, while also thickening the smoothie in the process to create a more delicious and creamy texture.
- Baking: As a baking product, coconut butter is highly versatile. It can be used to create all sorts of different baked goods, including cookies, brownies, cakes, and more. Along with adding higher levels of nutrients to baked goods, coconut butter also adds moisture and flavor.
- Toppings: Coconut butter can be a tasty topping for many different dishes but is particularly good when drizzled over desserts, such as ice cream or yogurt. This can also be a great addition to your breakfast meals, such as oat or fruit bowls.
- Cooking: Finally, coconut butter can be used in a similar fashion to coconut oil for cooking purposes. Adding a spoonful of coconut butter to a heated pan can be excellent for sautéing or stir-frying — though, like coconut oil, it is important to be mindful of the fats found in the butter.
3. Coconut Milk Powder
Coconut milk powder is a dehydrated form of coconut milk.
This coconut product is made by freeze-drying coconut milk to create a dry powder that can be rehydrated using water. What’s especially great about coconut milk powder is that it has a very long shelf life and does not require refrigeration, making it an exceptional non-perishable food item.
As a culinary product, coconut milk powder can produce a rich flavor and creamy texture.
Here are some common uses of coconut milk powder:
- Cooking: Coconut milk powder is a versatile ingredient for both cooking and baking purposes. It can be used in all varieties of recipes, from dishes like curries and soups to smoothies and sauces. Plus, coconut milk powder has a lower fat content than its oil and butter counterparts, making it a more diet-friendly option for those trying to avoid foods with high levels of fat.
- Beverages: Coconut milk powder can be rehydrated using water and drank as a beverage straight up. Additionally, it can serve as a great additive to other types of beverages, such as coffee or tea. Many people who follow plant-based diets use coconut milk powder as an alternative to dairy-based drinks and liquids, such as coffee creamer.
- Dry Seasoning: Along with its use as a cooking agent, coconut milk powder can also be used as a dry mix and seasoning. This is a particularly common use in tropical recipes and is often found in curry powder recipes for creating a wide range of curried dishes.
4. Shredded Coconut
Shredded coconut (also commonly called coconut flakes or dried coconut) are long, thin strips of coconut flesh that have been preserved through a drying method.
Coconut shreds can come in both sweetened and unsweetened forms, making them a versatile ingredient.
Like other coconut products, shredded coconut can add a tropical flavour to a variety of different recipes. The texture of coconut shreds is chewy and soft, making it a good topping.
Here are some common uses of shredded coconut:
- Baking: Shredded coconut is most often used in baking as an add-in to various recipes, such as cookies, muffins, and energy bars. Coconut shreds not only add flavor and nutritional value but also a unique texture to your baked goods.
- Granola & Trail Mix: Granola and trail mix are both mixtures of different dried ingredients designed to provide you with long-lasting energy and satiety. Adding coconut shreds to your granola or trail mix can add a hint of sweetness and a satisfying texture.
- Cereal: These days, many coconut fanatics use shredded coconut as a topper for cereal. You can take this to the next level by also using coconut milk for your cereal, as well as adding other fresh fruits and ingredients to really round out your breakfast meal.
- Smoothie Bowls: Smoothie bowls are all the rage in today’s health and wellness culture — and shredded coconut is one of the most popular ingredients to add to the top of these smoothie bowls. Shredded coconut adds texture, flavour, and visual appeal to a smoothie bowl.
- Curries: Like many of the other coconut products discussed, coconut shreds are commonly used in curry recipes originating from Southeast Asia. Coconut shreds add a distinct flavour to curries that give these recipes a notable sweetness to offset the heat and spice of a standard curry powder.
5. Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut palm sugar is a natural sweetener derived from the sap of coconut palm trees. It is made by first collecting this sap and then granulating it into sugar.
In terms of how coconut palm sugar is used, it can have both culinary and non-culinary uses.
For example, coconut palm sugar can be used as an alternative sweetening agent to traditional sugar in baking recipes, coffee, tea, and smoothies.
Additionally, coconut palm sugar can be added to hair and skin care products as a natural exfoliator.
Coconut palm sugar is fairly low in calories — roughly 18 calories per teaspoon compared to the 20 to 50 calories found in a teaspoon of white sugar — making coconut palm sugar a great alternative for anyone following a low-calorie or low-sugar diet.
Common Uses of Coconut
Coconut products are widely used in various aspects of our routine. All the components of the coconut tree, such as meat, liquid, shell, husk, leaves, roots, flowers, and trunk, have their own valuable uses, And that makes the coconut an incredibly efficient and sustainable resource. Coconut is commonly used in culinary, beauty, and skincare, household applications, and more.
Coconut in Culinary Delights
With its distinct flavour and creamy texture, coconut adds a delightful twist to a wide range of dishes and beverages. Coconut milk and coconut oil are widely used for cooking, providing richness and depth to dishes. Coconut flakes add a delightful crunch and nutty sweetness to baked goods and toppings. Coconut milk is widely used in refreshing smoothies and cocktails adding tropical relaxing essence.
Coconut for Hair and Skin Care
Coconut is commonly known for its incredible benefits in hair and skin care routines. In hair care, coconut oil is widely used for its deep moisturizing properties. It helps nourish the scalp, promoting healthy hair growth and adding shine. Coconut oil can also be used as a natural conditioner, leaving hair soft, smooth, and manageable.
When it comes to skincare, coconut oil for the skin is an excellent moisturizer, as it helps hydrate and replenish the skin, leaving it soft and supple. Coconut oil can also be used as a gentle makeup remover and lip balm.
Coconut in Household and DIY
Coconut products are also known for numerous uses in household and DIY projects. Coconut oil is used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to household cleaning products. Its antimicrobial properties make it effective for cleaning surfaces, while its pleasant aroma leaves a fresh scent behind. Coconut oil is a natural lubricant for squeaky hinges, used to polish wooden furniture. Coconut shells can be repurposed as eco-friendly bowls or planters, adding a touch of tropical flair to the home. Coconut fibres, commonly known as coir, are used for making doormats, and brushes, and even as a natural gardening mulch. With its multi-purpose nature, coconut offers a sustainable and natural solution for various household needs and creative DIY projects.
Final Thoughts: Where to Find the Best Coconut Products Today
If you are looking for the best coconut products to add to your daily diet and routine, look no further. Organic Traditions offers a wide range of coconut products, including all of the products discussed above. Additionally, Organic Traditions is a top supplier of many types of superfood supplements that can add tremendous nutritional value and flavour to your recipes.
Visit the Organic Traditions online shop today to order your ideal coconut products.