One day my father asked me “What are the benefits of coconut oil as I am thinking of investing in a coconut oil mill” (no joke!). I said that other than it being a saturated fat and good for your hair I didn’t really know much else. Intrigued to give him more answers I started to research the properties of coconut oil and to my surprise I found so many amazing health benefits on this truly remarkable oil I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some! I excitedly bought a tub the next day from my local health shop and have consumed it daily ever since. This was 12 years ago.
Saturated fats, found in organic pastured-fed animal products like butter, ghee, cheese, fatty meats and saturated vegetable fat like coconut oil, are not as bad as once thought. Saturated fats offer a host of health benefits and play many important roles in the body. But what sets coconut oil apart from all other saturated fat is close to two-thirds of the saturated fat found in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which have many health-promoting effects.
Boosts metabolism and aids weight loss
Our body metabolises coconut oil in the liver, immediately converting this into energy (fuel for the brain and muscle function) rather than it being stored as fat so it doesn’t lead to weight gain. MCFAs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, so it can actually help you become leaner. Researchers have also discovered coconut oil protects the body from insulin resistance and helps reduce abdominal obesity (great news for those suffering PCOS and/or Type II diabetes).
Enhances immunity and may reduce incidences of sickness
Coconut oil contains lauric acid (also naturally found in human breast milk), which converts into monolaurin in the body, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses (especially Candida and athlete’s foot) and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them. Without lauric acid, monolaurin cannot be produced by the body, which may explain why breastfed infants have lower incidence of infections than formula fed babies.
How to use it
Cook with it
Coconut oil is the best oil to cook with. Unlike olive oil and all other polyunsaturated vegetable fats such as canola, soybean, safflower, corn and other seed and nut oils, which will oxidise at high temperatures creating free radicals, coconut oil is the only oil that is stable enough to resist mild heat-induced damage, whilst still helping to promote heart health, support weight loss and thyroid function. Use coconut oil instead of olive oil, liquid vegetable oils and sprays, margarine and spreadable butters or any other type of oil used in cooking. If you want to avoid the coconut taste – a safe odourless option for cooking and the one I use is Biona Odourless.
Apply to your skin
Coconut oil applied topically is a wonderfully hydrating natural moisturiser. I saturate my children in coconut oil after their bath and not only do they have gorgeous soft skin they smell lovely too! I put it in my hair once a week and leave it in overnight as a weekly nourishing conditioner and even use it to remove my eye makeup – cheap, effective and chemical-free.
Need anymore convincing? I didn’t think so! My father never did invest in a coconut oil mill but I am thankful he asked me that question so many years ago because I love that I have been reaping the benefits for so long. It’s great that coconut oil is finally getting the positive media exposure it deserves and as its popularity, consumption and awareness rises, so will ultimately people’s health.
Further interesting and informative articles on coconut oil: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml