Coconut oil is one the oils that is widely used for many purposes. The oil extracted from coconut is known as Coconut oil. Besides its uses in cooking, this oil also has various other health benefits. It has gained high popularity because of the health benefits that can be achieved by regular usage. Before we look at the health benefits of coconut oil, it is imperative to understand that all oils have to be used in moderation for cooking. Too much of any oil is not good for health.
When there are many oils that provide varied amounts of vitamins and minerals, coconut oil contains a good amount of Lauric acid. 100gm of coconut oil contains 862 calories and 435% of saturated fat (daily value). It does not contain cholesterol, vitamins or minerals.
They possess fat that are very healthy when consumed on a regular basis. Along with lauric acid, they contain Caprylic acid and Capric acid. They are medium chain fatty acids which can be digested by the body very easily without much effort. There are very less chances of the coconut oil getting stored as fat in the body. They get used up as energy in a very short period of time from consumption.
History and Origin
The popular coconut is actually a complete seed of the coconut tree. Though the tree has been in existence since ancient times, the term coconut was formed only during the 16th century. The can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas. The cultivation of coconut has been done initially in the Malabar Coast event before Christ. Then it slowly spread to Sri Lanka. The usually grow in the coastline and sandy areas.
Later, the cultivation of coconut trees spread to other countries like Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Though the trees are cultivated in other countries, coconut and its products are available all around the world in supermarkets.
How is it made?
There are two methods used to extract coconut oil from the coconut kernels.
This is the most commonly used method to extract oil from coconut. The kernel or the flesh inside the shell is extracted first. It is left under the sun for many days to dry. The dried coconut flesh is called copra in Kerala. Once the kernels are completely dry, it is pressed using heavy machines and the oil is extracted from it. This is called cold pressed oil and it is the purest form of the coconut oil you can find.
This is the wet method used to extract the oil from the coconut flesh. First you need to extract the kernel form the shells. Later, grind them well with very little water. Once crushed/ground, add a thick bottom pan and boil it. After boiling for a long time, it will secrete the oil.
Collect the oil and store for regular use. There are many benefits you can gain from regular use of coconut oil. The purity of the oil matters more.
Key Health benefits of coconut oil
Use coconut oil to treat skin conditions such as eczema
Coconut oil has been known to having various healing properties and has been used by Asians to treat various skin conditions. Regular application of pure coconut oil helps to treat skin conditions such as eczema. It also treats dry skin and rashes caused due to heat.
Regular application of oil on the facial skin can improve the skin texture and also protect the skin from various pollutants.
The oil possesses natural anti-fungal properties that treat fungal infections as naturally as possible. They also can be used for external applications on the skin infections or rashes.
Just like how it treats fungal infections, they are effective in bacterial infections too. This property can provide relief when consumed while you are feeling sick. Usually food can be cooked using coconut oil which involves less heating or cooking. Coconut oil can be added in salads and vegetables for regular consumption. It can effectively treat issues like UTI (urinary tract infection) and kidney infections.
Prevents and treats osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bone brittle and weak. Coconut oil, when consumed regularly helps you improve bone density and also increases the amount of calcium absorbed from the food consumed. The anti-oxidants in the oil helps to protect bone structure and also helps you recover quickly from the disease. (1)
Prevents heart diseases
Yes, you read it right. There is a big misconception about consumption of coconut oil. Many people might scare you saying it causes heart health issues or cardio vascular issues. But it is just a myth! Research proves that coconut oil actually protects you heart health and prevents accumulation of bad cholesterol. It not only adds food cholesterol, it also helps you convert bad cholesterol into good cholesterol.
Anti-inflammatory by nature
The anti-inflammatory property in coconut oil helps you heal internal inflammation and treats inflammation related health issues. It is effective in treating arthritis and general joint pains. This oil a powerful source of anti-oxidants and it helps to reduce inflammation naturally. (2)
Prevents and treats cancer
Cancer cells usually thrive on the glucose that is created in the body. But coconut oil produces ketones during digestion. This type of energy cannot be used by cancer cells. This is one of the important property of coconut oil that helps cancer patients to recover. Many practitioners and doctors suggest keto diet for cancer patients to recover and treat cancer.
The essential fatty acids in coconut oil helps to improve memory and brain function very effectively. It helps to recall and improve brain function. It also effectively helps patients who are affected with Alzheimer’s disease. The easily digestible fatty acids helps the body to use it up effectively and can be used by the brain without any insulin support. This helps older people to improve memory, boost cognitive function and also treats Alzheimer’s. (3)
Improves energy and stamina
The amount of calories present in coconut oil and the easily digestible property in it, helps to boost energy. It also sustains the energy supply throughout the body and keeps you active for longer duration. It also helps you boost your metabolism.
Improves digestion and portects liver
Since the oil can be digested easily by the body, it can help you digest other food consumed. It helps the body absorb more nutrition from the food consumed. The fatty acids in the oil heals and treats stomach ulcers and wounds on the stomach wall. (4)
Coconut oil for oil pulling
Coconut oil is a natural healing oil and when used for oil pulling, has shown to improve the overall health while also treating gum diseases. Though usually only gingely oil or sesame seed oil is used for oil pulling, coconut oil can help you treat mouth ulcers and strengthen the gums. Regular use can help you protect the teeth from plaques too.
Use coconut oil as a natural lip balm
Just plain coconut oil can be applied on your lips as a moisturizer. But it may not last for a long time. To use it just like any other lip balm, you could make it using this simple recipe. Recipe for lip balm:
- To make enough for six months, take 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 3 tablespoons beeswax and 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil.
- Heat the three ingredients together to allow them to mix with each other well.
- Stir well for some time and pour it in a suitable container.
- Allow it to cool and you have a natural lip balm for softer lips.
Use coconut oil as a natural hair product
Coconut oil is a natural conditioner and can do wonders for your hair. While we may not be comfortable applying oil and leaving it on during the day, an application of oil before washing your hair twice a week should do it.
- Heat pure coconut oil of desired quantity and apply slowly on the scalp till tip.
- Leave it on for about fifteen minutes.
- Dip a towel in hot water and wrap it on your head for about two minutes.
- Repeat this four or five times before you shower.
- Within weeks you will notice reduction in dandruff, better hair texture and lustre.
Don’t be surprised if your hair fall reduces considerably too.
Mix coconut oil and sugar for soft hands
Mix half table spoon of coconut oil and sugar in your palm and rub your palms together and gently massage your fingers with this mix. Do this twice a week for soft hands.
Homemade coconut oil and honey hair mask
Coconut oil is renowned for its health benefits and can also be used on hair as a conditioning and anti-frizz treatment. It is inexpensive and a little bit goes a long way. I recommend using organic coconut oil and organic honey, which can be purchased from your local health food store or supermarket.
All you need is 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of organic honey and a mug that can go in the microwave. Mix the ingredients in the cup and warm in the microwave. Distribute evenly through hair, paying close attention to the ends. Leave for 30-40 minutes and wash and shampoo as usual. Treat once a week for soft, smooth, shiny, no frizz hair.
Apart from all above mentioned wonderful benefits of coconut oil, it is one of the best ingredient to help in weight loss. Yeah, you read in right! Read coconut oil for weight loss to know more.