All parts of the coconut plant are useful and the trees have a comparatively high yield (up to 75 "nuts" per year). The plant therefore has significant economic value. Indeed in Sanskrit the name for the coconut palm is kalpa vriksha, which translates as "the tree which provides all the necessities of life". Uses of the various parts of the palm include:
- The white, fleshy part of the seed is edible and used fresh or dried (desiccated) in cooking.
- The cavity is filled with "coconut water" containing sugars which are used as a refreshing drink.
- Coconut milk (approximately 17% fat) is made by processing grated coconut with hot water which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds.
- The sap derived from incising the flower clusters of the coconut form a drink known as "toddy" or, in the Philippines, tuba.
- Apical buds of adult plants are edible and are known as "palm-cabbage".
- The interior of the growing tip is called heart-of-palm and eaten in salads sometimes called "millionaire's salad".
- Copra is the dried meat of the seed which is the source of coconut oil.
The most commonly used part of the coconut in cookery is the fruit, which can be either fresh or dried. The coconut flesh is flaked or shredded and dried, then packaged for sale.