Coconut oil is fast becoming one of our must-have pantry staples. It’s touted as a minimally-processed, heart-healthy alternative to other oils, making it a great addition to our old favorites. It can be used in sautés, in cakes and cookies, or even in place of butter on your toast. But if you’re only using coconut oil in the kitchen, you're missing out. It’s also an all-purpose beauty solution, a must-have for pets, and a total lifesaver at home.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is made from the fruits of coconut palm trees, which grow in hot, rainy tropical climates. There are two main types of coconut oil: refined and virgin.
Refined coconut oil is made of copra, coconut meat that has been scraped out of ripe coconuts and dried for several days in the sun or a kiln. The refining process strips away some nutrients and makes the coconut flavor much less pronounced. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point, which makes it a better option for higher heat cooking and baking.
Virgin coconut oil is from fresh coconuts, not copra. The coconut flavor is much more pronounced, and it has a lower smoke point, so it’s more appropriate for no-cook or no-bake recipes, or light sautéing in dishes where its coconut flavor will enhance the recipe.
Here is everything you ever wanted to know about coconut oil.
1. The Saturated Fat In Coconut Oil Isn’t All Bad
The fat in coconut has been the subject of debate and misinformation. Although we’re told that saturated fat, across the board, is bad, the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids — these are different than saturated fat from animal sources — and do not degrade within the body. In fact, the human body uses them directly as energy and coconut oil consumption has even been associated with beneficial lipid profiles.
Coconut oil is even better than other vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil. Those oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which aren’t good for the cardiovascular system. Many nutritional experts recommend switching to coconut oil to avoid the health risks.
2. Eases Digestion
If you suffer from poor digestion or tummy bloating try adding coconut oil to your diet. Coconut oil has been found to benefit digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and microbial related tummy bugs. Fatty acids in coconut oil contain antimicrobial properties, which have a soothing effect on bacteria, candida, or parasites that cause poor digestion.
3. Stops Sugar Cravings
If you find you get those cravings for sugar in the afternoon or just before bed, you are not alone! Rather than reach for those shortbread cookies, try a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil. Good quality fat is much more satisfying to the body than carbohydrates. This means that if you can break that sugar habit and eat less sugar, you will feel less hungry. Also, the less sugar you eat, the less your body wants. When you consume the right amount of fats and protein, your body uses its energy reserves (fat) more efficiently.
4. Contains Fatty Acids with Medicinal Compounds
In the past, coconut oil was given a bad rap because it contained saturated fat. The problem was that we didn’t fully understand fat at the time. Coconut oil is one of the most abundant sources of saturated fat on the planet, with more than 90 percent of its fatty acids being saturated ones.
With advancement in technology, we now understand that some saturated fats are harmless. Coconut oil doesn’t have the typically saturated fats that are found in fatty cuts of beef or cheese. Coconut oil contains something called medium chain triglycerides, which are fatty acids of medium length. Most fatty acids are a long chain. The body metabolizes these fats differently.
The fatty acids in coconut oil go directly to from the liver to the digestive tract for quick energy or are turned into ketones, which also have beneficial effects that we will discuss later.
5. Slows Fine Lines
Coconut is not just for your cooking – it's a wonderfully hydrating treat for skin too. It keeps the skin's connective tissues strong, which prevents sagging and wrinkles. Apply coconut oil directly to your skin to soften the appearance of fine lines or use it daily on your face and body for a healthy glow. Be sure you use virgin coconut oil with no additives.
6. It’s Great for Skin
Coconut oil is also very moisturizing and beneficial for the skin. In many cultures, it’s used as a remedy for a great many skin conditions. The reason? It’s chemical structure. The short-chain and saturated fatty acids, which prevent it from oxidizing and becoming rancid, are nourishing to the skin and have even been found to encourage wound healing.
7. Kills Pathogens
Lauric acid makes up about 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil. When digested, coconut oil forms a substance called monolaurin. Both monolaurin and lauric acid are known to kill pathogens in the human body such as fungi, viruses, and bacteria. This means that consuming coconut oil regularly can help you to stay healthier and free from yeast infections, viral infections (such as colds or flu viruses), and free from other types of bacteria!
8. Supports Immunity
Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid which contain anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral prosperities to boost the immune system. Lauric acid contains the highest concentration of MCFA fatty acids, approximately 75 per cent. The body turns this fat into monolaurin which is claimed to help heal viruses such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, Helicobacter pylori, and candida.
Coconut oil has a lot of benefits that we are yet to discover. It has good effects on the body and many uses too. In this post, I shared with you everything you ever wanted to know about coconut oil.
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