Coconut Trees, Barbados Pocket GUide

Coconut Tree

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) can be found just about anywhere on the island of Barbados. These towering trees bear a head of large pinnate leaves with a slender trunk that amazingly bends dangerously close to the ground and back up without snapping in the event of a storm or hurricane.


The origins of the coconut tree are debatable but the tree has been thought to spread to the East and West by way of its floating fruit. Most authorities claim it is native to South Asia while others claim its origin is in northwestern South America.


Versatility of the Fruit of the Coconut

Throughout history, the coconut has been seen as having many nutritional properties associated with it. In Barbados, we enjoy many products that are derived from this tree.


Coconut Milk - Coconut milk is made by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds.


Coconut Oil - Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconut harvested from the coconut palm. The coconut oil is the most versatile of all the vegetable oils as a cosmetic, as an ingredient for soap, detergents and cooking oil.


Coconut Shells - In India, coconut shells are used as bowls and in the manufacture of various crafts products, including buttons. In parts of South India, the shell and husk are burned for smoke to repel mosquitoes


Coconut Water - The fruit of the coconut tree produces a most refreshing drink (the liquid endosperm or coconut water) that is enjoyed by the people of Barbados and tourist alike. The fruit is simply chopped off at the top and a small hole is cut to release the coconut water. This water can be consumed immediately or bottled and refridgerated. It is important to note that coconut water should not be allowed to stay for too long a period of time as it has the ablity to go rancid.


Coconut Jelly - The meat or solid endosperm is grated and used to prepare a variety of local Bajan 'sweets' like coconut bread or sometimes referred to as sweet bread, ice-cream and sugar cakes. Coconut vendors can be seen throughout the island of Barbados along roadsides with high piles of coconuts and water to quench your thirst as you go by.


Coconut Straw - Yard brooms made from coconut leaves are not as popular as before as they have been primarily replaced with the modern-day yard broom that is made from hard plastic bristles that are held together by a flat slab of wood and connected to a long, slender, smooth stick.


Leaflets are plaited to make hats that usually have a brim that are sold tourists as souvenirs.


Nutritional Benefits Derived from the Coconut Tree

Other health benefits associated with coconut are as follows:-

Prevents simple goiter (enlarged non-toxic thyroid) because of its organic iodine content
Good body builder, so it is a food recommended for building up the body muscles of thin and emaciated individuals
Constipation and for any build-up of gas in the stomach and intestinal tract
Coconut milk has been found to help cases of sore throat as well as relieving stomach ulcers
Coconut oil has been found to heal cuts, scratches, burns and sunburns
The oil has also been recommended for facial massage and is reported to be good as a wrinkle remover
Coconut oil is also good for the scalp and hair and makes hair dressing unnecessary
Intake of at least 2 Tbsp. of Virgin coconut oil per day can lessen your Vitamin E requirement
Coconut water is good for kidney and urinary bladder problems
Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia
Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care
Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue
Coconut oil is an excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin
Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties
There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis
Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight
Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis
When applied on infections, coconut oil forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues
Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.
The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as these substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat
Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones
Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes
As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age
Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay
It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients. Preliminary research has shown indications of the effect of coconut oil on reducing the viral load of HIV patients


The coconut tree thrives on sandy soils in full exposure to sunlight, regular rainfall and is highly tolerant of saline soil conditions such as those associated with the shorelines around Barbados.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this page should not be interpreted as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this site.


Readers should consult the appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well being.


The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best information available to the writers. However, readers who fail to consult the appropriate health authorities automatically assume risk of any injuries. Barbados Pocket Guide is not in any way responsible for errors or omissions.


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