Coconut | What's that?
The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is known by the inhabitants of tropical coastlines as the ‘tree of heaven’, as it has supplied them with a range of different products for thousands of years. With its fruit, its wood for building huts, its leaves for constructing roofs, its fibres for weaving walls, baskets, mats and rope, and coconut shells for fuel, the tree is an incredible source of food and raw materials. These palms bear fruit all year round in the form of coconuts. However, the coconut is not in fact a nut, but a drupe or ‘stone fruit’. Depending on the location, these trees flower and fruit in full force for 15 to 60 years, though even in the most ideal locations, they will stop bearing fruit after 80 years at the latest. The oldest coconut trees are between 100 and 120 years old. For many years, they were an essential part of islanders’ diets.
The coconut’s fat, protein and vitamin content ensured that generations of inhabitants of tropical islands had access to healthy nutrition. In its native countries, the coconut is still regarded as a fortifier and an aphrodisiac to this day. Young coconuts contain a sweet, almost clear liquid known as coconut water. Coconut water serves as a key substitute for drinking water in its growing regions. It is not the same thing as coconut milk, however – despite being incorrectly labelled as such on certain fitness drinks.
The cosmetics industry harnesses the unique properties of the lauric acid in coconut oil, which is what makes it so effective in hair and body care products. Coconut oil absorbs quickly into the skin and is deeply moisturising. Thanks to its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effect, it also protects against infections and supports the skin’s natural healing process. In hair care products, the oil strengthens the hair’s structure and gives it a healthy, non-greasy shine. A paradisiacal fruit that we’re all nuts for!