This is probably going to be a very long post, simply because there's just so much to know about coconut oil. And because this oil is so good for you, I just want to tell everything. So make yourself a cup of tea, get yourself comfortable (where are those blankets!) and get to know one of the most healthy food products of nature...
I've been using coconut oil for about 7 years now, mostly for cooking and on my bread. Very occasionally I use it on my skin - on a burned skin in summer or on very dry skin in winter. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer (in 2002 and a relapse in 2006), we started reading a lot about food and health and we slowly started changing our entire lifestyle. We became more aware of what we ate and so we also gradually switched over to organic food. In our quest for a healthier lifestyle, we discovered the power of coconut oil.
In my education as dietician, coconut oil was always labeled negatively because of its high value in saturated fatty acids (which they say are very bad for your cholesterol) what made me very sad and angry inside. This was one of the reasons why I suddenly didn't want to be a dietician anymore. Anyway, stubborn as I was and convinced of its health-promoting qualities, I kept on eating my coconut oil. Muahaha!
So let me tell you everything about this healthy gift of nature. Starthing with the Chinese part. Yes ma'am, be ready for some complicated names and terms...
Composition of coconut oil
Like I said, more than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats (don't panic yet!), along with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Most of the saturated fatty acids are medium chain triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well in the body's system. Lauric acid is the main contributor, representing more than 40% of the total, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are present as linoleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids as oleic acid. Whoosh, what a mouthful!
Besides that, coconut contains polyphenols like phenolic acid. These polyphenols are responsible for the fragrance and the taste of coconut oil. And also vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals such as iron.
Lauric acid beats the little creatures!
The health benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid (all saturated fatty acids), and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.
The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is supposedly helpful in dealing with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It also helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes and Heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as Giardia lamblia. Yep, they all have beautiful names, don't they? Eeek Monsters!
Health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrients for your hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair and gives your hair a shiny quality. It is also highly effective in reducing protein loss and so gives you strong hair.
This I found very interesting: "In India, people apply coconut oil on the hair every day after bathing or showering. It is an excellent conditioner and helps the re-growth process of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing and healing damaged hair." I need to start using coconut oil on my hair! But I think I might do it before I take a shower, not after...
By regularly massaging your head with coconut oil, you can ensure that your scalp is free of dandruff, even if your scalp is chronically dry.
Because of the high amount in saturated fatty acids, there is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. In reality, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as you commonly find in vegetable oils.
Coconut oil is an excellent massage oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Fortunately, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin from the application of coconut oil. Besides that, coconut oil also delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of skin. How interesting is that!
Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. 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 endocrine system. Coconut oil also increases the body's metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy.
Coconut oil strengthens the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Internal functions of coconut oil occur primarily due to it being used as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Alright, I think that I've now told you the most interesting part of the story. I hope this post helped you in some way and has convinced you of the health benefits of coconut oil. If you want to know more, then go to this website. The article - which I also used for writing this post - containts all the information you need to know about coconut oil!
Did you know all this health benefits about coconut oil? Have you ever used coconut oil? Are you going to?