Coconut Palm: The Tree of a Thousand Uses

Giant coconut tree at Lower Dover.

The coconut palm is one of the oldest trees on the planet, and has existed since the age of the dinosaurs.  It flourishes in tropical climates from Southeast Asia to Polynesia, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, South America, the Caribbean and South America. We have even seen them thriving in Beverly Hills!  Hailed by many as the most useful tree on Earth,  the Coconut Palm has generously provided civilizations with multiple natural tools to survive for centuries.

Seedling growing out of a dried coconut at Lower Dover.

Lower Dover Field Station & Jungle Lodge is no stranger to this amazing tree.  In fact, one of my first memories of Belize was being hit on the foot over and over by a rolling coconut while riding the bus to Lower Dover. The cocount was old, dried, and sprouting a healthy little shoot. Before exiting the bus, I grabbed it and took it back to the property to plant. 20 years later, that same coconut is all grown up, but refuses to drop its fruit! Stubborn like its planter!

Coconuts ready for harvest.

Coconut’s Many Uses

A hard outer green shell protects its precious nut-like seed that is covered with a hairy brown husk.  This husk provides fuel for cooking, fiber for clothing, and making rope stronger than hemp.  Within this seed lies the true essence of the coconut palm – its water, meat, and oil.  During the months that this seed matures, it goes through two major stages: first the coconut, with its soft jelly like meat and sweet thirst quenching water, provides energy; the second and most potent stage produces the mature nut.  Coconut water is all the rage in western culture. Western medicine has just recently confirmed the profound healing properties of the coconut, dispelling decades of misleading information.  Coconut water is packaged directly from the young coconut, its sweet taste satisfies thirst and sweet cravings and contains no fat. It provides the alkaline balance to acidic conditions, which is the primary cause  of most illnesses. The mineral charged water acts to detoxify the kidneys, and healthy kidneys are believed to promote a vibrant, healthy attitude. Once the nut is harvested, the inner skin, a thin brown layer, is cut away leaving, pure thick, white coconut meat. The milk, cream and oil are extracted and used for delicious recipes like curry sauces and desserts. The oil is used for cooking, body massages, it nourishes the skin, nails and hair, and can be applied topically to wounds to speed up the healing process.

Up close of young coconuts.

Dried coconuts at Lower Dover.

Coconut – A Source of health and longevity

The coconut has always been prized for its medicinal properties by many cultures and societies around the world, but Western culture has just recently caught on to the miraculous effects and uses of the coconut palm.  Recent western medicinal research concluded that coconuts form of saturated fat actually helps to prevent heart disease, stroke and the hardening of arteries. Unlike other oils and fats, coconut oil contains a large amount of the fatty acid known as lauric acid, which is the predominant fatty acid found in mother’s milk. Studies have shown the coconut oil’s effectiveness against HIV, SARS, Crohn’s disease, as well as other chronic illnesses.  It detoxifies the liver, helps to build lipoproteins, fats, hormones, and bile. Coconut’s amazing healing properties are also attributed to reducing the risk of other degenerative conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes.  The fatty acids help to create a healthy digestive tract, which in turn allows for better digestion and absorption of the nutrients in our foods. They also speed up metabolism, providing fewer calories than other fats but are still a viable effective source of energy.

Harvesting Coconuts at Lower Dover.

Coconuts grow year round at Lower Dover and their delicious flavor can be tasted in a variety of dishes. Maximize your Belize vacation by experiencing the incredible healing and nutritional benefits of the coconut palm by drinking its water.  Property workers will gladly chop down a fresh coconut for you to enjoy with your meal during your stay at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge. You can revel in the guilt-free sweet taste while naturally energizing your body before you embark on your day’s jungle adventure!

Source: Coconut Cuisine by Jan London

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3 thoughts on “Coconut Palm: The Tree of a Thousand Uses

  1. Pingback: Coconut palm: “the most useful tree on earth” | Treeblogging.com

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