A lot of myths have developed over the years about the evils of coconut oil, mostly centered around its being labeled a “saturated fat.” The truth is that the health benefits of coconut oil are astounding. This tropical seed has many pluses, with little risk.
Health benefits of coconut oil include:
- Increases immunity
- Soothes the nervous system
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Promotes weight loss
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduces the risk for diabetes and cancer
- Improves bone strength
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Reduce signs of premature aging
- Improves digestion
Coconut oil is included in hair and skin care products due to its soothing and nourishing properties. Studies also show coconut oil has significant antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antibiotic properties that make it suitable for treating a variety of infections.
The facts about coconut oil and fats
Considered one of the healthiest oils on earth, coconut oil consists of over 90% saturated fats, and it also contains traces of unsaturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The role of saturated fats in our diets is often misrepresented in our culture, and this has led to much of the misunderstanding surrounding the healthy value of coconut oil.
Although coconut oil contains saturated fats, it has no negative effect on cholesterol levels and can actually help lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. Even if you esteem yourself well versed in where to get healthy fats in your diet, this article may present some surprising information: Get The Skinny on Fats.
The unique composition of the fat molecules in coconut oil is what makes it extra special.
About half of all fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid, and this is what's largely responsible for coconut's health benefits. Lauric acid is formed into monolaurin, a substance in the body that destroys lipid-coated viruses and has anti-bacterial, anti-protozoal and anti-microbial properties.
Coconut oil for skin and hair care
Straight, unrefined coconut oil is a great choice for skin and hair care treatments. Most commercial skin products such as moisturizers contain mostly water and some type of vegetable oil.
While water may temporarily “inflate” the skin following absorption to lessen wrinkles and smooth the skin, the effects diminish as soon as the water evaporates or is processed away by the body. In addition, the vegetable oils in most skin and hair care products are usually highly refined vegetable oils that actually produce free radicals.
By contrast, coconut oil heals and repairs skin by penetrating into deeper layers and strengthening underlying tissues. This means skin and hair care products containing coconut oil actually improve the texture and appearance of skin instead of offering a temporary solution.
Coconut oil can help eliminate and protect against premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, skin cancer, blemishes and rough patches. Some conditions that can affect the skin and scalp that coconut oil's antiseptic properties may help treat include:
- Athlete's foot
Healthy benefits of coconut oil for moms and their babies
- Treats and soothes diaper rash
- Reduces eczema symptoms
- Treats cradle cap
- Relieves vaginal yeast infections or dryness
- Reduces stretch marks and itchy skin during pregnancy
I recommend using straight, unrefined coconut oil on the skin. It is solid at room temp, and melts at body temperature.
How to cook with coconut oil
Cooking with coconut oil is a great way to improve your overall health.
In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, it is a great source of energy, is lower in calories than other fats, and improves nutrient absorption. It's an excellent oil for cooking and has a mild, delicate flavor. Coconut oil also has a long shelf life, so it's a convenient and economical oil to incorporate into your daily diet.
For cooking, choose unrefined organic coconut oil, which can be heated up to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C for sauteing or stir fries.
Coconut butter contains more of the solids, has more flavor and is great to spread on toast, experiment with in baking, or add to sauces for a tropical flare.
For a decadent splurge along the lines of licking cupcake frosting, eat softened organic coconut butter right off the spoon. It's guilt-free and nutritious!
A note on the coconuts and global wellness: Coconuts come to us from tropical locales, requiring quite a large load of fossil fuels to transport them from jungle climates to our local shops. As a result, please choose FAIR TRADE products whenever possible. The extra cost insures that this tropical commodity was brought to you with humane and fair work conditions. It's the least we can do, to enjoy their many and delicious benefits.