I’ll admit, as a kid I didn’t care for coconut milk too much however I did enjoy a Mounds bar from time to time. As an adult, not much has changed but I now know of the many additional uses of coconuts – and it’s oil in particular. In today’s time with advanced technology and keen awareness of health and nutrition – there are some solutions out there for everyone, whether it is for aging skin, indigestion, fat loss, or high cholesterol. But while looking for these fancy – and sometimes overpriced remedies – we seem to miss simple ‘natural’ items that can be found at a local grocery store. Baffled? Now science is proving that coconut oil is loaded with benefits due to the natural ‘good’ saturated fat and anti-bacteria properties that it possesses.
Coconut oil has become very popular today with many holistic chefs, nutritionists and food critics turning to this source of oil as a better alternative when cooking with high heat. It’s important to note that coconut oil IS a saturated fat and most people USED to consider fats like this to be unhealthy and mostly attributed them to heart disease. Typically, saturated fats are associated with the unhealthy ‘trans fat’ or hydrogenated oils – but now we can call an exception to this rule. In fact, coconut oil is actually a heart-healthy food that can keep your body running smoother in many different ways.
Coconut oil is not only cholesterol free but also it has a saturated fat called lauric acid, a ‘good fat’ and a type of MCT, or medium chained triglycerides. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels and lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, (ref: 2008 Science and Research Data – blog), a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. In addition, coconut oil can help restore normal thyroid function which can assist in increasing the metabolism, all while boosting energy and stamina – when the thyroid does not function properly, it can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol.
Which kind of coconut oil is the best to use for everything? The short answer is, unrefined Coconut Oil is and here’s why. Unrefined oil will be labeled as virgin or extra-virgin. Virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils are made from the first pressing of fresh – raw coconuts without the addition of any chemicals that may act as preservatives and denature the purities this oil can offer. Unrefined oil is usually tasteless yet has a faint smell of coconuts and can withstand higher cooking temperatures before reaching its smoke point. Refined oils do not offer the same health benefits that virgin or raw coconut oil does, however, if you can find a non-hydrogenated, chemical-free refined coconut oil, then this can be an acceptable alternative.
Coconut oil can also positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control. People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance.
It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy, loss of weight, (which helps to control the muscle to fat ratio), and the controlling of cravings. One study found that people who consumed about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, (a type of fat that is normally difficult to lose), which contributes to more heart problems.
Coconut oil is resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness and can help to fight off yeast and fungal infections. Secondly, coconut oil has anti-viral properties because of the lauric acid and can boost white cell counts to stop the spread cancer cells. Viruses like AIDS, colds, and influenza have been proven to been controlled by the properties in coconut oil.
So we know that coconut oil is a good saturated fat, and has its medicinal benefits, but it is also the great anti-aging lotion. Not only does it help to improve dry skin, it also helps to sooth sunburn and provides great relief for psoriasis and eczema. Lastly, coconut oil can help clear dark circles under the eye, help diminish those unsightly dark spots on the face and body AND help to prevent infection in wounds without clogging your pores.
Replace those other oils
Since we know that coconut oil is the ‘slickest’ of all the oils, it’s no surprise that we should substitute our cooking or vegetable oil as it will not only add a nutritional boost to your meal but also supply you with your essential fats for the day. Furthermore, try to substitute butter with coconut oil as its healthier (trans fat/cholesterol free) and also aids in digestion, helps controls blood sugar and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, (A, D, E, & K). If you don’t cook much but still want the benefits of coconut oil, try to blend it into hot tea to help quicken flu recovery or to sooth a sore throat. It also works for smoothies and coffee for that added nutritional AND energy boost but don’t get too addicted now – too much of anything can be risky. Remember, your body can only absorb so many calories at once and even though this oil is dense with good calories, they all add up in the end, so space the calories out evenly throughout the day for optimal absorption.
So we know by now that coconut oil isn’t only for those ‘Islander Girls’ that need a fancy looking bra piece – it’s the new cure all lard you’ve been looking for, despite what a few naysayers may believe. In addition to the aforementioned, coconut oil also reduces inflammation, assist Alzheimer’s patients in recovery, increases conjugated linoleic acid production (CLA, a proven weight loss aid), increased weight loss as the coconut oil seems to help with satiety, and helps to improve glucose tolerance, as people who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Another interesting remedy that coconut oil can provide is a process called ‘oil pulling’ or ‘kavala’ where you take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for approximately 20 minutes or so to improve your overall oral hygiene. People that have done this have experienced: whiter teeth, less cavity and gingivitis build-up, better smelling breath, stronger teeth and gums, less jaw pain (TMJ sufferers noted great results), improved sleep and sinus issues, relief of headaches, & helps prevent hangovers and skin issues. Lastly, this pulling process helps to clear the stored bacteria in the mouth and it’s recommended that this be done, once a month – and be sure not to swallow the oil once you’re done, you’d be ingesting the bad bacteria you’re trying to rid your body of, so simply spit it out in the trash and not the sink, as oil can solidify over time and clog the drains.
Whew, there done – now time for my Pina Colada and yeah, you can put coconut oil in that too ;-)