Improving the Value of the Coconut with Biotechnology

  • Fabian M. DayritEmail author
  • Quang Nguyen


Coconut is a traditional resource with many uses. It is experiencing a revival in interest due to the health benefits from numerous consumable products that can be derived from it. Processing of the fruit provides coconut milk, which is a basic ingredient for many traditional diets worldwide. Coconut milk is also a nutritious lactose-free substitute for cow milk. Further processing of the milk produces coconut flour and virgin coconut oil (VCO). Coconut flour is a gluten-free cooking and baking ingredient, while VCO is a nutritional and energy-rich supplement with medicinal properties. The fruit also yields coconut water, which provides a nutritious and refreshing drink with therapeutic applications. The coconut water can also be converted into nata de coco and coconut vinegar through fermentation. Nata de coco is not only a popular dessert but has also been developed for various biomaterial applications. Furthermore, coconut elite varieties, such as Makapuno and Aromatics, have been gaining popularity. Makapuno nuts are filled with galactomannan that has also been developed as a natural biocompatible material. Recently, coconut sugar extracted from the inflorescence sap has been gaining popularity due to its high nutritional value and low Glycemic Index. Biotechnology can be used to further enhance the utilization of each of these valuable products as food, nutraceutical, and novel materials. The coconut is truly a bountiful resource with numerous existing and potential applications.


Coconut milk Nutritional value Medicinal value Antibacterial activity Nata de coco Elite varieties 


  1. Abujazia MA, Muhammad N, Shuid AN et al (2012) The effects of virgin coconut oil on bone oxidative status in ovariectomised rat. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012:1. Scholar
  2. Adams W, Bratt ED (1992) Young coconut water for home rehydration in children with mild gastroenteritis. Trop Geogr Med 44(1):149–153PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Adkins S (2007) Coconut tissue culture for clonal propagation and safe germplasm exchange in Indonesia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Adoption of ACIAR project outputs: studies of projects completed in 2006–07Google Scholar
  4. Adriano FT, Manahan M (1931) The nutritive value of green, ripe and sport coconuts. Philipp Agric Sci 20(3):195–199Google Scholar
  5. Ahuja S, Ahuja S, Ahuja U (2014) Coconut – history, uses, and folklore. Asian Agrihist 18(3):221–248Google Scholar
  6. Algar AF, Mabesa LB (2015) Isolation and partial characterization of a low molecular weight antimicrobial protein from coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) milk. Int Food Res J 22(5):1813Google Scholar
  7. Alleyne T, Roache S, Thomas C et al (2005) The control of hypertension by use of coconut water and mauby: two tropical food drinks. W Indian Med J 54(1):3–8PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Amnuaikit T, Chusuit T, Raknam P (2011) Effects of a cellulose mask synthesized by a bacterium on facial skin characteristics and user satisfaction. Med Devices (Auckl) 4:77–81Google Scholar
  9. Angeles GJ, Lado PJ, Pascual DE (2018) Towards the understanding of important coconut endosperm phenotypes: is there an epigenetic control? Agronomy 8(10):225Google Scholar
  10. Anurag P, Rajamohan T (2003) Cardioprotective effect of tender coconut water in experimental myocardial infarction. Plant Food Hum Nutr 58(3):1–12Google Scholar
  11. Arumugam M, Raman M, Johnson B et al (2014) Dietary fiber isolate from coconut flakes – a functional food. Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res 25(2):262–267Google Scholar
  12. Asmoro N, Widyastuni R, Ndrudu JJ (2018) Production of virgin coconut oil using fermentation method extraction with Ragi Tempe. In: International conference on applied science and engineering. Atlantis PressGoogle Scholar
  13. Aziz N, Sharifudin SA, Kahar AA (2016) Azest: natural sport drink from coconut water vinegar. Paper presented at the 6th international conference on biotechnology for the wellness industry, MalaccaGoogle Scholar
  14. Bernardo EB, Neilan BA, Couperwhite I (1998) Characterization, differentiation and identification of wild-type cellulose-synthesizing acetobacter strains involved in nata de coco production. Syst Appl Microbiol 21(4):599–608Google Scholar
  15. Blair EH, Robertson JA (1906) The Philippine Islands 1493–1803. AH Clark Company, ClevelandGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell-Falck D, Thomas T, Falck TM et al (2000) The intravenous use of coconut water. Am J Emerg Med 18(1):108–111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Cooke FC (1951) The coconut palm as a source of food. Ceylon Coconut Q 2(4):153–156Google Scholar
  18. Costello H (2018) Global coconut water market and coconut oil market 2018 by demand, consumption, production, top regions, key manufacturers, growth & forecast till 2023Google Scholar
  19. Codex Alimentarius (2015) Codex standard for named vegetable oils. Codex Stan 210:1–13Google Scholar
  20. Davis C, Coningham R (2018) Pilgrimage and procession: temporary gatherings and journeys between the tangible and intangible through the archaeology of South Asia. World Archaeol 50(2):347–363Google Scholar
  21. Dayrit CS (2000) Coconut oil in health and disease: its and monolaurin’s potential as cure for HIV/AIDS. Paper presented at the XXXVII Cocotech meeting. Chennai, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  22. Dayrit FM (2008) A brief history of the Philippine coconut industry as reflected in the PJS, 1906 to 2005. Philipp J Sci (Centennial edition): 10Google Scholar
  23. Dayrit FM (2015) The properties of lauric acid and their significance in coconut oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc 92(1):1–15Google Scholar
  24. Dayrit CS, Dayrit FM (2013) Coconut oil: from diet to therapy. Anvil Publishing Inc, ManilaGoogle Scholar
  25. Dayrit F, Buenafe O, Chainani E et al (2008a) Standards for essential composition and quality factors of commercial virgin coconut oil and its differentiation from RBD coconut oil and copra oil. Philipp J Sci 136(2):119–129Google Scholar
  26. Dayrit FM, Buenafe OEM, Chainani ET et al (2008b) Analysis of monoglycerides, diglycerides, sterols, and free fatty acids in coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) oil by 31P NMR spectroscopy. J Agric Food Chem 56(14):5765–5769PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. DTU (2009) Technical University of Denmark. Coconut meat, desiccated.
  28. Eiseman BEN (1954) Intravenous infusion of coconut water. JAMA Surg 68(2):167–178Google Scholar
  29. Esa F, Tasirin SM, Rahman NA (2014) Overview of bacterial cellulose production and application. Agric Agric Sci Procedia 2:113–119Google Scholar
  30. Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A et al (2016) Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev 74(4):267–280PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Fan HK, Feng ML, Huang LY et al (2011) A new coconut cultivar ‘Wenye 4’. Acta Hortic Sin 38(4):803–804Google Scholar
  32. Foale M (2003) The coconut odyssey: the bounteous possibilities of the tree of life. ACIAR monographyGoogle Scholar
  33. Franco EP, Oliveira G, Luiz R (2015) Effect of hypoenergetic diet combined with consumption of coconut flour in overweight women. Nutr Hosp 32(5):2012–2018Google Scholar
  34. Haddy FJ, Vanhoutte PM, Feletou M (2006) Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure. Am J Phys Regul Integr Comp Phys 290(3):R546–R552Google Scholar
  35. Henry GE, Momin RA, Nair MG et al (2002) Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase activities of fatty acids found in food. J Agric Food Chem 50(8):2231–2234PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Jangchud K, Puchakawimol P, Jangchud A (2007) Quality changes of burnt aromatic coconut during 28-day storage in different packages. LWT-Food Sci Technol 40(7):1232–1239Google Scholar
  37. Jirapong C, Uthairatanakij A, Noichinda S et al (2012) Comparison of volatile compounds between fresh and heat-processed aromatic coconut. In: Kanlayanarat S, Boonyaritthongchai P, Acedo AL (eds) Asia Pacific symposium on postharvest research, education and extension, Acta horticulturae, 943, vol 1. Int Soc Horticultural Science, Leuven, pp 111–115Google Scholar
  38. Kabara JJ, Swieczkowski DM, Conlet AJ et al (1972) Fatty acids and derivatives as antimicrobial agents. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2(1):23–28Google Scholar
  39. Khaw K-T, John Sharp S, Finikarides L et al (2018) Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. BMJ Open 8(3):e020167PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Khuenpet K, Jittanit W, Hongha N et al (2016) UHT skim coconut milk production and its quality. SHS Web Conf 23:03002Google Scholar
  41. Laitano O, Trangmar S, Soares Menezes E et al (2014) Improved exercise capacity in the heat followed by coconut water consumption. Motriz, Rio Claro 20(1):107–111Google Scholar
  42. Lazim MIM, Badruzaman N (2015) Quantification of cytokinins in coconut water from different maturation stages of Malaysian coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) varieties. J Food Process Technol 6(11):1Google Scholar
  43. Lee P-R, Boo C, Liu S-Q (2013) Fermentation of coconut water by probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus L10 and Lactobacillus casei L26. Ann Microbiol 63(4):1441–1450Google Scholar
  44. Li S, Li P, Feng F, Luo L-X (2015) Microbial diversity and their roles in the vinegar fermentation process. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 99(12):4997–5024PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Lisdiyanti P, Katsura K, Potacharoen W et al (2003) Diversity of acetic acid bacteria in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Microbiol Cult Collect 19(2):91–99Google Scholar
  46. Loki AL, Rajamohan T (2003) Hepatoprotective and antioxidant effect of tender coconut water on carbon tetrachloride induced liver injury in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys 40(5):345–357Google Scholar
  47. Luengwilai K, Beckles DM, Pluemjit O et al (2014) Postharvest quality and storage life of ‘Makapuno’ coconut (Cocos nucifera L.). Sci Hortic 175:105–110Google Scholar
  48. Macalalag EV (2011) Buko water of immature coconut is a universal urinary stone solvent. Cocoinfo Int 18(2):12–19Google Scholar
  49. Magat SS (1988) Use of salt (sodium chloride) as fertilizer for coconut. Philippine Coconut Authority, abstracted in AGRIS 1991 10 (4):1–15Google Scholar
  50. Manna K, Khan A, Kr Das D et al (2014) Protective effect of coconut water concentrate and its active component shikimic acid against hydroperoxide mediated oxidative stress through suppression of NF-κB and activation of Nrf2 pathway. J Ethnopharmacol 155(1):132–146PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Marina AM, Man YBC, Nazimah SAH (2009) Antioxidant capacity and phenolic acids of virgin coconut oil. Int J Food Sci Nutr 60:114–123PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Mendoza EMT (2007) Development of functional foods in the Philippines. Food Sci Technol Res 13(3):179–186Google Scholar
  53. Mesomya W, Varapat P, Komindr S et al (2006) Effects of health food from cereal and nata de coco on serum lipids in human. Songklanakarin J Sci Technol 28:23–28Google Scholar
  54. Mohamad NE, Yeap SK, Abu N et al (2019) In vitro and in vivo antitumour effects of coconut water vinegar on 4T1 breast cancer cells. Food Nutr Res 63:1–11Google Scholar
  55. Montealegre C, Dionisio RE, Sumera VL et al (2012) Continuous bioethanol production using Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells immobilized in nata de coco (biocellulose). 2nd international conference on environment and industrial innovation IPCBEE, p 35Google Scholar
  56. Mujer CV, Arambulo AS, Mendoza EMT et al (1983) The viscous component of the mutant (Makapuno) coconut endosperm.1. Isolation and characterization. Kalikasan Philipp J Biol 12(1–2):42–50Google Scholar
  57. Mulyasuryani A, Srihardyastutie A (2011) Conductimetric biosensor for the detection of uric acid by immobilization uricase on nata de coco membrane – Pt electrode. Anal Chem Insights 6:ACI-S7346Google Scholar
  58. Mariana AM, Che man YB, Nazimah SAH et al (2008) Antioxidant capacity and phenolic acids of virgin coconut oil. Int J Food Sci Nutr 60(1):114–123Google Scholar
  59. Naik A, Raghavendra SN, Raghavarao KSMS (2012) Production of coconut protein powder from coconut wet processing waste and its characterization. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 167(5):1290–1302PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Naik A, Venu GV, Prakash M et al (2014) Dehydration of coconut skim milk and evaluation of functional properties. Cyta-J Food 12(3):227–234Google Scholar
  61. Ng CY, Mohammad AW, Ng LY et al (2015) Sequential fractionation of value-added coconut products using membrane processes. J Ind Eng Chem 25:162–167Google Scholar
  62. Nguyen QT, Bandupriya HDD, Foale M et al (2016) Biology, propagation and utilization of elite coconut varieties (makapuno and aromatics). Plant Physiol Biochem 109:579–589PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Nguyen V, Le T, Phan H et al (2017) Antibacterial activity of free fatty acids from hydrolyzed virgin coconut oil using lipase from Candida rugosa. J Lipids 2017, Article ID 7170162, 7 pagesGoogle Scholar
  64. Othman NI, Shahril M, Ramli S et al (2007) Effect of coconut oil emulsion on encapsulation of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and survival in simulated gastrointest conditions. In: 10th ASEAN food conference 2007, August 21–23, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaGoogle Scholar
  65. Perumpuli PABN, Watanabe T, Toyama H (2014) Identification and characterization of thermotolerant acetic acid bacteria strains isolated from coconut water vinegar in Sri Lanka. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 78(3):533–541PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. PNS/BAFPS (2010) Coconut flour – specification. Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Product Standards, Philippines (75)Google Scholar
  67. Prades A, Salum UN, Pioch D (2016) New era for the coconut sector. What prospects for research? OCL 23(6):D607Google Scholar
  68. Prado FC, De Dea Lindner J, Inaba J et al (2015) Development and evaluation of a fermented coconut water beverage with potential health benefits. J Funct Foods 12:489–497Google Scholar
  69. Rajan RGR, Kumar PKP, Krishna AGGK (2010) Tocopherols and Phytosterols content of coconut oil blends prepared for coconut oil consumers and non coconut oil consumers. Indian Coconut J 53(4):16–20Google Scholar
  70. Ranti I, Kwee T, Thio I et al (1965) Coconut water for intravenous fluid therapy. Paediatr Indones 5(3):782–792Google Scholar
  71. Rao P, Rao S, Kumar S et al (1972) Intravenous administration of coconut water. J Assoc Physicians India 20(3):235–239PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Rattan SIS, Sodagam L (2005) Gerontomodulatory and youth-preserving effects of zeatin on human skin fibroblasts undergoing aging in vitro. Rejuvenation Res 8(1):46–57PubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Rele A, Mohile R (2003) Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci 54(2):175–192PubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Reuters (2019) Global coconut market and coconut milk market 2019 by demand, consumption, types, regions, supply, growth, key-players, market-impact and business forecast 2024.
  75. Rice LP (1935) Philippine copra and coconut oil in the American market. Far East Surv 4(20):156–161Google Scholar
  76. Rillo EP, Cueto CA, Medes WR et al (2002) Development of an improved embryo culture protocol for coconut in the Philippines. In: Engelmann F, Batugal P, Oliver J (eds) Coconut embryo in vitro culture: part II. Proceedings of second international on embryo culture workshop, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, 14–17 March 2000. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), Rome, pp 41–65Google Scholar
  77. Rogers P, Chen J-S, Zidwick MJ (2013) Organic acid and solvent production: acetic, lactic, gluconic, succinic, and polyhydroxyalkanoic acids. In: Rosenberg E, DeLong EF, Lory S, Stackebrandt E, Thompson F (eds) The prokaryotes: applied bacteriology and biotechnology. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 3–75Google Scholar
  78. Ruetsch SB, Kamath Y, Rele AS et al (2001) Secondary ion mass spectrometric investigation of penetration of coconut and mineral oils into human hair fibers: relevance to hair damage. J Cosmet Sci 52:169–184PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Saat M, Singh R, Sirisinghe RG et al (2002) Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Hum Sci 21(2):93–104Google Scholar
  80. Samosir YMS, Adkins SW (2014) Improving acclimatization through the photoautotrophic culture of coconut (Cocos nucifera) seedlings: an in vitro system for the efficient exchange of germplasm. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Plant 50:493–501Google Scholar
  81. Samosir YMS, Rillo EP, Mashud N et al (2006) Revealing the potential of elite coconut types through tissue culture. Paper presented at the coconut revival – new possibilities for the ‘tree of life’. Proceedings of the international coconut forum held in Cairns, Australia, 22–24 November 2005. ACIAR proceedingsGoogle Scholar
  82. Sanful RE (2009) Promotion of coconut in the production of yoghurt. Afr J Food Sci 3(5):147–149Google Scholar
  83. Santoso U, Kubo K, Ota T et al (1996) Nutrient composition of kopyor coconuts (Cocos nucifera L.). Food Chem 57(2):299–304Google Scholar
  84. Satheesh N, Prasad NBL (2014) Production of virgin coconut oil by induced fermentation with Lactobacillus plantarum NDRI strain 184. Hrvatski časopis za prehrambenu tehnologiju, biotehnologiju i nutricionizam 9:37–42Google Scholar
  85. Schilling M, Matt L, Rubin E et al (2013) Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. J Med Food 16(12) 1079–1085Google Scholar
  86. Siddalingaswamy M, Rayaorth A, Khanum F (2011) Anti-diabetic effects of cold and hot extracted virgin coconut oil. J Diabetes Mellitus 1:118–123Google Scholar
  87. Srivastava P, Durgaprasad S (2008) Burn wound healing property of Cocos nucifera: an appraisal. Indian J Pharm 40(4):144–146Google Scholar
  88. Tabaii MJ, Emtiazi G (2016) Comparison of bacterial cellulose production among different strains and fermented media. AFB 3(1):35–41Google Scholar
  89. Treesuppharat W, Rojanapanthu P, Siangsanoh C (2017) Synthesis and characterization of bacterial cellulose and gelatin-based hydrogel composites for drug-delivery systems. Biotechnol Rep (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 15:84–91PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  90. Trinidad TP, Loyola AS, Mallillin AC et al (2004) The cholesterol-lowering effect of coconut flakes in humans with moderately raised serum cholesterol. J Med Food 7(2):136–140PubMedGoogle Scholar
  91. Trinidad T, Mallillin A, Valdez HDS et al (2006) Dietary fiber from coconut flour: a functional food. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol 74(4):309–317Google Scholar
  92. Trinidad TP, Valdez DH, Loyola AS et al (2007) Glycaemic index of different coconut (Cocos nucifera)-flour products in normal and diabetic subjects. Br J Nutr 90(3):551–556Google Scholar
  93. USDA (2018a) Branded food products database: full report (all nutrients) 45022923. Coconut flour, UPC: 897922002256. Release July 2018Google Scholar
  94. USDA (2018b) National nutrient database for standard reference: basic report 12117. Nuts, coconut milk, raw. Release 1 April 2018Google Scholar
  95. USDA (2018c) National nutrient database for standard reference: basic report 12119. Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts). Release 1 April 2018Google Scholar
  96. Van Staden J, Drewes SE (1975) Identification of zeatin and zeatinriboside in coconut milk. Physiol Plant 34(2):106–109Google Scholar
  97. Vandamme EJ, De Baets S, Vanbaelen A et al (1998) Improved production of bacterial cellulose and its application potential. Polym Degrad Stab 59(1):93–99Google Scholar
  98. Verallo-Rowell VM, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS (2008) Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis 19(6):308–315PubMedGoogle Scholar
  99. Vongvanrungruang A, Mongkolsiriwatana C, Boonkaew T et al (2016) Single base substitution causing the fragrant phenotype and development of a type-specific marker in aromatic coconut (Cocos nucifera). Genet Mol Res 15(3):gmr.15038748. Scholar
  100. Widhiarta K (2016) Virgin coconut oil for HIV-positive people. Cord 32(1):50–57Google Scholar
  101. Yoshinaga F, Tonouchi N, Watanabe K (1997) Research progress in production of bacterial cellulose by aeration and agitation culture and its application as a new industrial material. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 61(2):219–224Google Scholar
  102. Zakaria ZA, Rofiee MS, Somchit MN et al (2011) Hepatoprotective activity of dried- and fermented-processed virgin coconut oil. eCAM 2011, Article ID 142739, 8 pagesGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryAteneo de Manila UniversityQuezon CityPhilippines
  2. 2.School of Agriculture and Food SciencesThe University of QueenslandGattonAustralia
  3. 3.School of BiotechnologyInternational University, Vietnam National University-HCMHo Chi Minh CityVietnam

Personalised recommendations