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Benefits of Coconut Oil and Virgin Coconut Oil

24 Apr

Lately I’ve been obsessed with coconut oil.  I first discovered it back in college, in 2003, while I was at the University of Kansas.  I read an article that was claiming adding coconut oil into your diet could make you lose weight.  I had really got into nutrition at this time and was intrigued.  Ever since then, I’ve always had coconut oil on hand in my pantry and bathroom.

Read on to learn everything you wanted to know about coconut oil!

Lets take a look at the benefits of coconut oil, both topically and internally:

(Taken from organicfacts.net)

Hair Care:

Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. Most of the people in these countries apply coconut oil on their hair daily after bath. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.

Skin Care:

Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care. Coconut oil also helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Heart Diseases:

There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

Weight Loss

Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Digestion

Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Immunity:

Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Healing and Infections

When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

Other:

Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as they substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.

Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.

HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients. Preliminary research has shown indications of the effect of coconut oil on reducing the viral load of HIV patients (Reference).

Finally, coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease: There are reports of research conducted by Dr. Newport stating that coconut oil is useful for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from this there is no scientific evidence or traditional knowledge or coconut oil being used for treating Alzheimer’s. It was also not known traditionally that coconut oil helps in the brain function.

Why is Coconut Oil Solid?: Unlike most other oils, coconut oil has a high melting point – about 24 to 25 degress Celcius or 76-78 Farenheit. Therefore it is solid at room temperature and melts only when the temperatures go high. Hence, if you buy a bottle of coconut oil and find it solid, don’t think that there is some problem with it. Coconut oil is like this only. And of course, don’t keep it in your refrigerator.

How to Use Coconut Oil?: If you are using coconut oil for topical purposes, especially hair care, just melt the oil (if it is solid) by keeping the bottle in the sun or warm water. You can also take some coconut oil out and put it in a small bowl and heat the bowl over a flame (do not use microwave). Then take the oil on your palm and apply it to your hair. If you want to use it for internal consumption, simply replace butter or vegetable oils with coconut oil in your recipes. Remember, you need not switch to coconut oil completely, as you will miss the benefits of other oils and dairy products.

Can I Use Coconut Oil for Cooking?: Yes, in most of the tropical coastal regions, people use coconut oil for cooking.

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What about the high fat content of coconut oil?

Answer from here.

Another reason people believe coconut oil must be bad for you is misguided association: it is a saturated fat and "saturated fats are bad for you." Dietary guidelines inevitably fail to distinguish between different kinds of saturated fats and insist that saturated fats (meaning all saturated fats) are harmful.

This is not just misleading. It is bad science. Leading scientists now recognize that just as there is good cholesterol, there are also good saturated fats.

Fats are classified as short-, medium- or long-chain based on the number of carbon molecules they contain. Nearly two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids.

When we eat long-chain fatty acids, they must be emulsified by bile salts in the small intestine before they can be absorbed into our body. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids, such as those in coconut milk, are absorbed directly through the portal vein to the liver, where they are immediately available to the body.

In other words, most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is easily digestible and converted into quick energy. And these types of fatty acids are less likely to cause obesity because they are immediately used by the body and have no opportunity to be stored.

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What’s the difference between coconut oil and virgin coconut oil?

Answer from here.

Coconut oil is commonly divided into two broad categories:

  • RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized)
  • “Virgin”.

The difference between the two is in the amount of processing the oil undergoes.

Refined Coconut Oil

Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil and is typically made from copra (dried kernel – meat) of the coconut, which is made by drying coconut in the sun.

Refined coconut oil is referred to in the coconut industry as RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized) coconut oil.

If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin. DO NOT BUY JUST COCONUT OIL, NEEDS TO BE “VIRGIN”.

Virgin Coconut Oils (VCO) – Unrefined coconut oil

The term “VCO” in the coconut oil industry means that this form of coconut oil processing is the most unrefined and most natural form and no artificial filtering or expeller pressing is used.

The oil remains in its most natural form and retains a rich smell and sweet taste of coconut.

Most virgin oils are extracted by a number of methods. High temperatures and chemical solvents are not used, so the oil retains its naturally occurring phytochemicals (plant chemicals) which produce a distinctive coconut taste and smell.

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For our house, I like buying organic virgin coconut oil.  It smells amazing, has a longer shelf life than regular coconut oil and is better for you.

Recently, I’ve been using coconut oil as Cameryn’s main moisturizer.  She has a rash on her stomach that doesn’t seem to want to go away.  I’ve been using coconut oil to help reduce the redness and help the rash go away.  You can also use coconut oil to help with cradle cap and as a diaper rash cream.

Both Keith and I like using it as a face moisturizer as well.  After I had Cameryn my face started breaking out as my hormones were rebalancing.  Since I’ve been using organic virgin coconut oil my face has been clear and so soft.

For more information, check out these following links:

 

I’ll be back later this evening with an eats and workout update!  If you haven’t already entered my giveaway, enter so you can have a chance to win a Target or Trader Joe’s gift card along with some other goodies!

Questions:

  • Do you use coconut oil?  If so how?
  • What benefits of coconut oil attract you to use it?

 

 

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