The Magic Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil
Oils have had a bad reputation for a long time. The advent of low-fat diets has had everyone running scared and associating eating any fats with becoming fat. The talk about the danger of having high cholesterol – (if you still believe cholesterol is bad for you, read this book) – rising obesity, the increase in ‘low fat’ products, skim milks, etc, has all combined to make the general public very wary of eating anything with oil in it. But we need fats, good fats. And there is a massive difference between the two.
Bad fats are toxic to the body and should be avoided like the plague. The kinds of oils we should be consuming are those that are not hydrogenated, are in their virgin form and haven’t been cooked or heated. Virgin Coconut oil fills all these boxes and many more.
Virgin coconut oil has many fantastic health benefits and is a product that should be used in every home, not just in the kitchen either! If there is one product you should go out and buy right now, it’s organic, extra virgin coconut oil.
Saturated fat has long been the bad boy of the fat world. This is because the saturated fats contained in animal products and vegetable oils (long chain fatty acids – LCFA’S) are bad for us. Most oils added to processed foods are also hydrogenated. This means that they undergo a process to make the oil harder, but this is very bad news for our cardiovascular health; as it then becomes much easier for the fat to stick to our arterial walls and become plaque. However, the fat in coconuts is different. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFA’S) – and this makes all the difference.
The kind of fat found in coconuts is the same to that found in human breast milk. It provides fuel which is converted directly into energy, rather than being stored as fat, and actually protects the arteries, preventing heart disease. The populations that consume the highest amount of coconut oil (some up to 50% of their diet) have the lowest rates of heart disease and best cardiovascular health in the world (1). The size of the MCFA’s means the body is better able to digest them, and because they do not circulate in the blood for as long, they do not clog the arteries or contribute to gaining excess weight.
Read also: Control Your Weight
I know… You don’t believe it! How can I be telling that if you eat more oil you won’t gain excess weight? But that’s not all! The various other benefits continue…
- Coconut oil supports the immune system – It contains lauric acid, which has powerful anti viral and anti-bacterial effects. Lauric acid disrupts the fatty membranes of invading organisms, strengthening the body’s ability to fend off organisms that are able to enter the body. It has also shown to be useful in the treatment of severe bacterial infections (2).
- Provides an immediate source of energy – it is absorbed into the body quickly and sent directly to the liver where it’s able to increase the metabolism, improving detoxification and regulation of the body’s processes.
- Increases and supports metabolism – A study by farmers in the 1940′s saw them feed coconut oil to their cattle in an attempt to fatten them up and increase body fat. Paradoxically, the study actually resulted in healthier, leaner, more active cattle!
- Tastes and smells great – Added to any food, whether sweet or savoury, it adds a beautiful subtle flavour which does not overpower the flavour of the meal.
- Heat stable – It does not oxidise easily and is resistant to high temperatures, making it the oil of choice for cooking.
- Does not spoil quickly – Shelf life is long due to it’s high saturated fat content.
- It has been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine for thousands of years.
- Great for the hair – It replaces the natural oils produced by the scalp and has been used for hair loss, baldness and dandruff. It creates a shine in the hair and enters the hair shaft to prevent protein loss (3).
- Skin – A far better alternative than harsh chemical products, organic virgin coconut oil is a natural moisturiser which has demonstrated effectiveness in treating eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions. It balances the PH of the skin, penetrating quickly to create a protective barrier to microbes.
- Antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial.
- Does not increase blood cholesterol.
- Prevents osteoporosis by increasing calcium absorption and when used as a sunscreen does not block Vitamin D.
- Kills candida – The high amount of caprylic acid contained within is anti fungal, killing Candida Albicans; a common, yet insidious yeast imbalance caused by the pill, antibiotics and living unhealthy lifestyle.
- Nutritious diet staple for thousands of years in tropical cultures – as studied by Weston A. Price.
- Does not spike blood sugar – coconut oil slows the digestive process, therefore lowering the Glycaemic Index (GI) of your meal and keeping blood sugar levels steady (4).
- Increases thyroid activity – increasing the metabolism and promoting weight loss also promotes better thyroid activity (5).
- Works as a natural lubricant.
With the many health benefits of coconut oil and it’s ability to be used in many ways around the home, I believe coconut oil is definitely one addition you should make to your pantry and bathroom.
Your task is to now have a look at the oils you have and use at home and determine if you could make a better choice; it’s time to upgrade! Olive oil has had great media coverage as the oil of choice lately. It is fantastic for use in salads and raw meals that don’t require cooking, but don’t heat it to high temperatures as it has a low smoke point and oxidises easily. Generally the less refined (more healthy) an olive oil is, (i.e. extra virgin) the quicker it will breakdown (6). Flaxseed oil is great to increase daily intake of EFA’s, however it must be kept in the fridge as it is not heat stable and must not be consumed if rancid. All other vegetable oils are bad choices due to their high refinement, inclusion of GMO products, low smoke points, lack of nutritive qualities and ability to become trans fats.
My oil of choice for everything is – you guessed it, coconut oil! I eat at least 1 tablespoon a day right from the jar, and also include it in many of my other daily recipes too. And it hasn’t made me fat!
Have you tried coconut oil? Will you make the switch now? Are you aware of any other uses or benefits of coconut oil? Leave your comments below.