Coconut oil contains a lot of nutrients which are important for good health. For thousands of years coconut products have held a valuable place in folk medicine and have been acknowledged for their valuable nutrients. Coconuts are particularly rich in lauric acid (containing about 50%). This has been proven to have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Lauric acid in coconut is the same as lauric acid found in mother’s milk which is essential for developing babies’ immune systems. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Dr. Mary Enig, Ph.D. a nutritionist/biochemist is one of the world’s leading authorities on fats and oils. She writes, “Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria including listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid.”
Coconut oil also contains saturated fatty-acids, but does not contain dangerous trans-fatty acids found in many other oils. Trans-fat is known to increase blood levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or ‘bad cholesterol, whilst lowering levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol. An increase of LDLs is considered to contribute to clogging of arteries and other serious health problems. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc. Coconut fats are processed directly in the liver without putting strain on the digestive system and are highly recommended for those who have difficulty digesting other forms of fat.
Coconut oil is often described as “the healthiest oil on earth.” All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are three types of fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Coconut oil is composed mostly of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). The majority of fats and oils we consume in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).
How much coconut oil should you ingest?
Internal use of coconut oil is generally when used as a cooking oil. Researchers state that the optimal amount for an adult is a few tablespoons per day, divided over three meals. This would provide amount of medium chain fatty acids a nursing child would consume in one day from mother’s milk. However you may begin with a smaller amount and build up to the recommended dosage if necessary. It may also be used in cooking, roasting vegetables , etc.
There are many ways to use coconut oil and incorporate it into your diet. It is a stable cooking oil that can replace unhealthy oil or butter or margarine substitute for spreads or for baking. Any recipe calling for oils, butter or margarine can be substituted with it.
Storing coconut oil
- Coconut oil should not be kept in the refrigerator as it become as solid and difficult to use. In hotter climates, the oil is not refrigerated and always remains in liquid form. In colder climates, or in winter, the oil is solid.
- It cold climates, it can be returned safely to liquid by standing the container in a pan of warm water.
- The natural antioxidants give it a very long shelf life.
- Store out of direct sunlight.
- The benefits of coconut oil are not destroyed by heat.
- Coconut oil is one of the best and safest oils to use in cooking because it does not turn into a trans-fatty acids when heated.
Coconut oil is excellent massage or moisturising oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturiser on all types of skin, including dry skin as it prevents dryness and flaking. It also helps with the signs of fine lines and improves sagging skin due to its antioxidant properties. Coconut oil may also help with the treatment of various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and skin infections.
Coconut oil provides essential nutrients for hair, keeping it shiny and healthy. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil helps with the elimination of dandruff and a dry scalp. It is an excellent conditioner and may help with the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. Just apply a little to the palms of your hands and rub through your hair after shampooing.