Also known as coconut butter, extracted from coconut, raw organic extra virgin coconut oil has been used as a vital source of food and medicine since the dawn of history, with Ayurveda (the medicine of India) and the medicinal systems of Polynesia long advocating the coconut’s therapeutic and cosmetic properties.
In traditional medicine, coconuts were used to treat a wide variety of health problems including baldness, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, fever, and wounds etc. As a food, coconut oil is regarded a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content.
It is now known that other health-giving benefits include – hair care; skin care; stress relief; maintenance of cholesterol levels (as it contains no appreciable levels of cholesterol, actually supporting cardiovascular health, and healthy cholesterol formation in the liver); weight loss; increased immunity and ‘superbug’ protection (due to containing healthy antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial saturated fatty acids, helping to naturally fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungal overgrowth); proper digestion and metabolism stimulation (including the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids (proteins), and an improved absorption of the right kinds of calcium and magnesium ions); relief from kidney problems; heart disease protection; high blood pressure; diabetes (improving utilisation of blood sugar and lessening symptoms of hypoglycaemia); HIV; cancer; dental care; bone strength.
So just like any other pure, whole food, coconuts and virgin coconut oil have a significant role to play in a well balanced nutritious diet, being highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals – the good news is that coconut oil is widely accepted as an extremely healthy food!
Some other good news for anyone still conscious of fat intake will be glad to realise that coconut oil contains less calories than any other fat – most fats contain 9 calories per gram, whilst due to its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), coconut oil contains just 6.8 calories per gram.
About two-thirds medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil boasts nature’s richest source of these healthy fats – lauric acid, a health-promoting fat, making up 50 percent of the fat content of coconut oil. A fat rarely found in nature and again coconut oil boasts the highest level of any plant source, with the only other abundant source of lauric acid being Motherís milk. Two tablespoons of coconut oil provide 12 grams of lauric acid, which the body converts into monolaurin, a compound that has antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoa monoglyceride properties that actually destroy a wide variety of disease-causing organisms: lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, measles, influenza virus, various pathogenic bacteria, and inactivates fungi, yeast and protozoa including ringworm, Candida albicans, and giardia lamblia.
Other fatty acids that make up coconut oil are: capric acid, around 6-7 percent, converted by the body to monocaprin and shown to have antiviral effects against sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, herpes, gonorhae, and HIV); caprylic acid, 7-9 percent, coconut’s antimicrobial component and the most potent yeast fighting substance; myristic acid, 16-17 percent, used in metabolism for the stabilisation of cell protein.
The only polyunsaturated fatty acid is the omega-6 essential fatty acid linoleic acid, and the only monounsaturated fat is the omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid. Research findings have also indicated that coconut oil doubles the body’s ability to use antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids, and so it is recommended that coconut oil be used in conjunction with other omega-3 containing oils and superfoods; flaxseed, hempseed, krill oil, Marine Phytoplankton, and AFA algae.
As a heart disease protector and promoter of weight loss, coconut oil has been found (in studies) when consumed regularly, to be easily absorbed and used as a preferential energy source, with burning actually increasing the body’s metabolic rate to help restore thyroid function, aid weight loss (due to increased metabolic rate), and to not increase body fat, actually producing a decrease in white fat stores.
Coconut oil has a string of antioxidant properties too since the oil is highly stable and resistant to oxidation and free radical formation, reducing the need for vitamin E – whereas unstable vegetable oils such as cottonseed, soybean, and corn oil deplete vitamin E. And due to its stability, unlike vegetable oils, coconut oil is also one of the safest and healthiest cooking oils too, due to being heat-stable and not creating toxic trans-fats when heated. Coconut oil is therefore not only perfect for raw food diets, but perfect for baking, stir-frying, roasting and sauté cooking and gives food a delicious coconut taste. Coconut oil is even great straight from the spoon!
Coconut oil on the skin
With mounting medical and scientific evidence that coconut oil has powerful positive health benefits when eaten, it also deserves a mention as the ideal body care product. Used for decades on the body, it is ideal for helping restore more youthful-looking skin as it is absorbed into skin and connective tissues, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep connective tissues strong and supple, as well as aiding in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making skin smoother. Simply use coconut oil as you would any lotion to protect skin from the ageing effects of free radicals, and to help improve the appearance of skin with its anti-ageing benefits.
Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections, and coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products on the market such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., all used for skin and/or body care.
So, however you choose to use, enjoy your coconut oil!