The Coconut Oil Demystified
Scientists around the world are busy researching a rather single food that’s supposed to have dramatic effect on many diseases – The food is Coconut Oil.
For a long time coconut oil has been regarded as a food and a medicine, especially by people living in tropical countries like India, Sri Lanka and Philippines, without any adverse effects. A study by Dr. Bruce Fife, Director of the Coconut Research Center, shows that up until a few years ago, the people of Sri Lanka used coconut oil in all their cooking, where each person, on an average consumed about 120 coconuts a year. Despite this high rate of consumption they had a very low heart disease death rate – 1 out of every 100,000, whereas Americans, who hardly use coconut oil, reported heart disease deaths of about 600,000 people’s every year that is 1 in every 4 deaths, as per Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This article aims to demystify the coconut and its byproducts especially coconut oil and prove that this oil is in fact a life giver, tonic and plays an essential role in our day to day life.
Glossary of Terms:
To better understand the different types of oils, their benefits and their composition; it would be apt for us to first try to understand the different terms that are used in connection with these fats.
Saturated fats: According to MedicineNet.com “saturated fat is a fat that contains only saturated fatty acids and is solid at room temperature.” The fats are found in most animal products, butter, lard, coconut oil and cocoa butter and have a higher percentage of saturated fats than oils which are liquid at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats: They are identified as those which are in the liquid form at room temperature. There are two types of unsaturated fats: the Monounsaturated Fats, that are liquid at room temperature but solidify at colder temperatures, like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, etc’.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) remain in liquid form under any temperature, like safflower; corn, soya bean and sesame oils.
Trans fats: Also known as Hydrogenated Fats, these are unsaturated fats although they are not considered good as they can raise cholesterol levels. Hydrogenation is a process where hydrogen molecules are introduced into the oil to make it solid at room temperatures. It alters the chemical properties of the oil and creates harmful Trans fatty acids.
Long Chain Fatty Acids and Medium Chain Fatty Acids: All fats, whether animal based, vegetable or flower based, contain chains of carbons and are classified, depending upon the length of the carbon chains, into Long Chain Fatty Acids (LCFA) or Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA).
Properties of Coconut Oil:
Given below is a table which compares coconut oil with unsaturated fats like vegetable and plant fats, which will enable the reader to understand how coconut oil is far healthier than unsaturated oils
|Coconut oils||Vegetable and Plant oils|
|Made up of essentially Medium Chain Fatty Acids, coconut oil consists of about 50% of Lauric acid which is closest in its nutrient form to mother’s milk. Also contains Vitamin E, which promotes healthy hair, along with a substantial amount of moisture and suspended particles of proteins and other organic particles.||Unsaturated fats are made up of Long Chain Fatty Acids, the composition of which makes it susceptible to attack by free radicals which can damage the cell and contribute to their aging faster.|
Coconut oil is saturated and is in solid form at temperatures below 25 degrees Centigrade.
Unsaturated oils are liquid even at cold temperatures. Tendency to get rancid when exposed to heat and oxygen.
Stable at high temperatures. Not destroyed or changed chemically from its original form upon heating. Does not break down easily.
Vegetable oils, when heated to high temperatures have a tendency to breakdown into numerous other products which might be harmful to the human body.
Coconut oil is healthy oil and is known to boost the immune system.
Vegetables oils are known to suppress the immune system in the human body and are known to kill white blood cells, making it more susceptible to disease.
|5||Shelf life is 18 months to two years.||
Shorter shelf life and hence more susceptible to getting rancid, which is quite harmful.
Benefits of coconut oil:
Coconut oil is a complete factory of good health, wellness and beauty regimen. It is affordable, natural and freely available. This oil finds its place of pride in cooking, is used as a shortening to make crisp cookies, used as a beauty aid, in medications, to treat abrasions, burns and skin rashes, treating and curing various health problems and surprisingly even as an engine fuel oil!
Coconut Oil aka The Good Health Oil:
The health benefits of coconut oil are numerous and are beneficial to almost all parts of the human anatomy, and Dr. Bruce Fife, asserts that ‘coconut oil is the healthiest oil on earth’, with modern research backing his statement. Coconut oil is a known
- Anti Bacterial: Aids in killing bacteria that causes ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections and gum diseases.
- Anti Carcinogenic: Helps enhance the immune system and impedes the spread of cancer cells.
- Anti Fungal: Helps in curing fungal infections.
- Anti Inflammatory: Known to suppress inflammation and repair tissue.
- Anti Microbial: Lauric acid present in coconut milk help fight bacteria, viruses and fungal infections and inactivates undesirable microbes.
- Anti Oxidant: Prevents the formation of harmful free radicals.
- Anti Viral: Latest research indicates that coconut oil may help kill some viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C , SARS and also the AIDS virus.
In addition to these benefits using coconut oil as a cooking medium regularly is known to promote all round general health and wellness.
1) Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: How often do we feel helpless as our elders go through the painful moments of this dreaded disease, unable to carry on a dignified life? Well, latest studies show that having just four teaspoons of coconut oil a day, orally, can prove to be a powerful remedy for people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other major conditions.
2) Cardiovascular Health: The medium chain acids help lower cholesterol levels thus keeping the heart and blood vessels free from fat deposits.
3) A cure for Diabetes? Coconut oil has a substantial effect on diabetics and research has proven that coconut oil has the ability to control hunger and cravings. Restricting refined sugars, refined carbohydrates and alcohol from one’s diet and increasing intake of healthy saturated fats and protein can reverse Type 2 diabetes.
4) Breast feeding: Mothers can benefit by consuming 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil daily to increase and enrich the quality of milk. It aids in better development of bones and teeth as it helps to absorb calcium and magnesium.
5) Indigestion: The saturated fats help to get rid of parasites and infections which cause indigestion and other related problems of the bowels.
6) Energy Booster: Coconut oil is also a great supplement for athletes and others who need a quick boost of energy.
7) During Pregnancy: Coconut oil protects the mother to be from a host of parasitic, fungal and microbial infections, boosts her immune system and also helps to minimize morning sickness.
8) A fat that reduces fat? This incredible property of coconut oil in promoting weight loss is true mainly because of the healthy medium chain fatty acids which unlike other fatty acids do not circulate in the blood stream but go directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. This prevents fat from being stored in the body. Coconut oil is also known to speed up metabolism, burning more calories and thus promoting weight loss.
9) Oil Pulling: Did you know that coconut oil can be used as a mouthwash and that it does more than just freshen up your mouth? Not only is it a cure for bad breath, bleeding gum, mouth ulcers, cavities or tooth pain, it has deeper effects on other organs in the body as well. A known Ayurvedic treatment in ancient times, it has been proved very effective mainly because of the oil’s ability to adhere, with the help of the mucous membranes in the mouth, to all the toxins and bad bacteria in the mouth and expelling them, thereby halting the entry of these toxins into the digestive tract. In his book ‘Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body through Oral Cleansing ’Dr. Bruce Fife compares the motor oil in the car’s engine, which has the ability to keep the engine fit and fine by removing the grime and dirt, to this therapy which enables to keep our body’s mechanism clean and well lubricated.
Method: Every morning, on an empty stomach, take a table spoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around like you would do with Listerine and gargle for around 15-20 minutes. Rinse and wash off with normal water and then brush your teeth as usual. Never mind if you swallow some of this oil during this procedure. This helps with your overall oral health as the oil emulsifies with the saliva in the mouth, leaving your mouth free of harmful bacteria
Also read benefits of tender coconut water
Coconut oil in the kitchen:
Coconut oil is an excellent aid in the kitchen both as a solid and as a liquid.
- It can be used as a healthy substitute for butter. Replace butter with equal quantity of refrigerated coconut oil.
- Can be added as a nutritional supplement to tea, smoothies and soups.
- Use this oil along with equal amount of olive oil in salad dressing.
- Coconut oil in its liquid form can be used in baking, cooking.
Coconut Oil Benefits for Your Skin:
- It protects the skin from blemishes caused by aging and over exposure to sunlight. The small molecules ensure better penetration by the skin and keep it supple and wrinkle free. it also aids in repairing damaged skin.
- Body scrub: Helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, making the skin smoother.
- Used topically, it also promotes quicker healing of cuts, open wounds, bites and stings.
- Coconut oil rubbed gently under your eyes helps to remove puffiness, wrinkles, and dark circles.
- Apply coconut oil to your eyelashes to make them stronger and longer.
- A safer and more effective insect repellant.
- Remove make up using a wad of cotton dipped in coconut oil.
Tip: Mix coconut oil with sugar and rub all over your face and hands. Rinse with clear water and watch your skin become super soft. You can also add essential oils to this mix to get any specific smell of your choice.
Coconut Oil Benefits for Your Hair:
Coconut oil has been used by Indian women (especially from South India) for years as a complete hair treatment regimen, so it is no wonder that women in South India sport some of the most beautiful, long and lustrous locks in the world. This all natural and non polluting oil is the best and safest oil for your hair.
- Applying coconut oil to hair is an excellent method of repairing damaged hair that has been subject to a lot of abuse as we usually tend to try any shampoo, dye or salon treatment to make our hair look great.
- Coconut oil is an effective anti dandruff agent, and it works as a moisturizer which prevents the scalp from becoming dry. Its antifungal property also helps prevent infection and keeps hair dandruff free.
- After a shower apply a little coconut oil to your hair, avoiding the roots. This acts as a good moisturizer for your hair.
Tip: For a deep conditioning treatment take two teaspoonfuls of coconut oil and gently massage it into your scalp and hair ends, and leave for about 20-30 minutes. Dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out excess water and wrap your hair with this towel. Keep repeating this procedure for twenty minutes and wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
Tip: Heat two teaspoonfuls of coconut oil and massage into your scalp with your fingertips. Allow the oil to soak into your scalp for 15-20 minutes before washing thoroughly with a deep moisturizing conditioner. Continue this treatment daily till the condition improves.
The fear psychosis that exists in people’s mind, that coconut oil is somehow connected to heart disease, rise in cholesterol levels, diabetes and other health conditions, is totally baseless. What most people do not understand is that there are many different types of saturated fats and the fat found in coconut oil is completely different from that found in animal fats. This difference is what makes coconut oil unique and gives it its remarkable healing properties.