Coconut is a delicious staple in many parts of the world. From the electrolyte-rich water of young cocos to the cell-nourishing oil in older nuts, they are one of natures most versatile gifts. Some indigenous cultures use every part of the coconut palm for food, fuel, instruments, and building materials. While we dont need to be that crafty to make use of this wonder food, there are many ways that we can get the most from the mighty coconut.

Coconut cultivation is becoming a hot topic with environmentalists, like many foods that are globally popular. It is important to get all of your coconut products from companies that use organic practices and are committed to proper stewardship of the land, harmony with the ecosystem, and support of the local communities.

Uses for Coconut

1. Hydration

With electrolytes, probiotics, and more potassium than bananas, the water from inside young coconuts is one of the most naturally hydrating products available. The younger coconuts contain water that is not very sweet but high in probiotics, and slightly older coconuts have more electrolytes and sugar. Both are better at combating dehydration than sports drinks, without the artificial sweeteners or colors.

Get the water directly from young coconuts, or from frozen or unpasteurized bottles. The pasteurized cans have been cooked to make them shelf stable, which kills the beneficial enzymes and probiotics that make coco water so good making them basically just expensive sugar water.

2. Sweetener

Coconut sap sugar (sometimes called coconut palm nectar) is a fantastic vegan sweetener that is low glycemic and full of minerals. It is available in liquid and crystal form. It can be used as a 1 to 1 replacement for cane sugar in most recipes.

3. Weight Loss

Despite what you might think about fats, moderate consumption of extra virgin coconut oil (not hydrogenated) actually boosts the metabolism because of its high lauric acid and MCFA content. It also supports thyroid function, which means better regulation of appetite. And it can give an energy boost that is healthier and more sustainable than one from caffeine or sugar.

Use it in place of other oils when cooking or baking, or add just a little to your smoothies. It is still high in calories like other fats, so enjoy it as part of an overall low-calorie healthy diet to support your weight loss goals.

4. Skin

Virgin coconut oil is a fantastic skin moisturizer that helps skin retain moisture, and will make you smell like a tropical paradise. After you bathe, rub it in well and let it absorb before you get dressed. It gives a natural SPF 4 skin protection, lightens age spots, and can reduce cellulite (when used daily).

Many mamas swear by extra virgin coconut oil to help prevent stretch marks, soften the perineum for a less painful delivery, and soothe nipples sore from breastfeeding.

It also makes great massage oil, with just the right consistency to allow a smooth glide without being sticky or too thick.

5. Hair

Dry hair loves virgin coconut oil. Rub a little into your lock before bed, concentrating on the tips. Wrap your hair in a shower cap or non-porous material to protect your bedding, then rinse your hair in the morning. Greater shine and healthier follicles from one easy treatment.

If you are prone to dandruff or dry scalp, you can find relief with a treatment of 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil. Rub into scalp well (it may sting a little at first) and leave on for at least 15 minutes, or overnight. Be careful that the mixture does not drip in your eyes.

6. Frying

Virgin coconut oil is the best oil for cooking because it has such a high smoke point. This means you can use a medium-high flame without the oil smoking or turning into trans fat. It also imparts a tropical flavor to whatever is cooked in it.

7. Mouth Care

Extra virgin coconut oil can be used in the Ayurvedic practice oil pulling. This is swishing a teaspoon of oil through the teeth to heal the gums and draw out bacteria. Extra virgin coconut oil can also help remineralize teeth as part of homemade toothpaste.

8. Dairy-free Milk

Coconut milk makes a great replacement for dairy milk in most recipes, hot or cold. It is the thickness of cream, and can be watered down a bit for use in cereal or smoothies, or used straight in coffee and tea.

9. Brain Health

Consuming coconut oil may help prevent Alzheimers and help those suffering from Autism. It also boosts memory, alertness, and cognitive function.

Coconut is an extremely versatile food that provides countless ways to nourish the body and mind. Some ancient cultures think of the coconut tree as the tree of life because it provides so much sustenance. These are just a few of the ways you can enjoy this useful, life-giving plant yourself.