THE HUMBLE COCONUT
We always preach that coconuts are one of the most incredible single food sources on the planet, but it even goes beyond the edible benefits.
I watched a coconut show in Fiji last year where the locals showed us just how important the Coconut Tree is to their community and sustainability. Everything from the trunk (for timber) to the leaves (for weaving baskets, mats, hats, wrapping their food in banana leaf parcels for cooking) to the outer fiborous husk that houses the shell (used to make rope due to its strength & for broom bristles), to the shell itself (used for bowls, shell bras & burnt into activated charcoal), to the inner flesh (used as soft eating flesh, dried coconut chips, pressed to make coconut oil or coconut milk) and then of course the coconut ‘water’ which we love to drink.
If you were ever stranded on an island, coconuts are your hero.
So on that note, here are some facts about one of the coconuts most renowned derivative, COCONUT OIL, and why you should add some into your daily life:
1. Skin Health / Anti-Aging
Full of antioxidant vitamin E, coconut oil is a wonderful natural moisturizer that can help to heal damaged skin, reduce signs of ageing, strengthen the epidermis against cellulite & fade stretch marks. Coconut oil offers natural protection from harmful UV radiation. It can even be used to prevent or heal fungal skin infections. Apply organic virgin coconut oil directly to skin for a soothing therapuetic experience that also smells fantastic.
2. Hair Health
Just as it does for skin, coconut oil can also protect hair from sun damage and dehydration. Massage organic virgin coconut oil into scalp and work through to the ends before visiting the beach or swimming pool, to shield skin and hair from harmful UV radiation and chemicals and to seal in moisture. When used regularly, coconut oil can also work to reduce or eliminate dandruff and other scalp irritations. With coconut oil a little bit goes a long way. Use about a tablespoon at a time until you get a feel for exactly how much you will need to moisturize your scalp and hair.
3. Increased Energy
Unlike most other saturated fats, coconut oil is built primarily of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). I know it sounds complicated, but basically these fats metabolize much differently than their long-chain cousins which are found in abundance in meat and dairy products. Digested MCTs are not stored as fat in the human body. Instead, they are transported directly to the liver where they are quickly converted into energy.
Consuming approximately two tablespoons of coconut oil every morning has been shown to increase energy levels by an average 5% in a twenty-four hour period!
4. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Disregard the myth that all saturated fats are bad for you and a leading cause of heart disease. Coconut oil has been shown to improve overall cholesterol by simultaneously increasing HDL (good) and lowering LDL (bad) levels. It does this by helping the body to convert cholesterol in the blood stream into a usable form, thus reducing build up in arteries. MCTs in coconut oil may also work to reduce triglycerides, improve blood coagulation, and perform antioxidant functions in the blood stream, further diminishing the risk of heart disease.
5. Weight Loss
Daily consumption of coconut oil has been shown to help with weight loss, particularly around the tummy. By regulating appetite and improving digestion, coconut oil can make it much easier to reduce your daily calorie intake and lose weight at a healthy rate. Because it is a natural mood enhancer, coconut oil may help you to feel more motivated and energetic which is always a plus in the quest for weight loss. Coconut oil aids in balancing hormones that reduce stress and anxiety – two of the leading causes of excessive belly fat.
Just remember that coconut oil is high in calories. Limit your intake to one or two tablespoons per day so you aren’t sabotaging your weight-loss efforts.
6. Decrease Hunger
Further to the above, keytone bodies formed by MCTs (see point 3) have the added benefit of reducing hunger and cravings. When eaten every day, a serving or two of coconut oil is a proven effective tool to help you feel full faster, avoid overeating, and snacking less unnecessarily.
7. Fight Infection
MCT Lauric acid makes up about 50% of the total fatty acid content of coconut oil and is the main ingredient that makes this oil so amazing. Amongst all of its other health benefits, lauric acid is a powerful anti-microbial, killing viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi by dissolving their cellular walls. Adding a daily serving or two of coconut oil to your diet can increase your body’s resistance to illness, improve digestive health, and even help to heal ulcers of the stomach lining.
8. Normalize Brain Function
When digested, MCTs travel directly to the liver where they are synthesized into keytone bodies. These chemical compounds have a positive effect on several brain disorders, most notably – epilepsy & Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia.) High concentrations of keytone bodies in the blood have been shown to reduce seizures in children with drug-resistant epilepsy. Keytone bodies also provide an alternate source of energy for cells in the brain which have lost the ability to process glucose, one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s.
9. Better Nutrient Absorption
When ingested, coconut oil helps the digestive tract to better absorb fat-soluable vitamins A, D, E, and K. If you take supplements for these nutrients, consider washing them down with a tablespoon of organic virgin coconut oil. If the idea of swallowing a spoonful of oil makes you cringe, try using coconut oil in place of olive oil or butter when cooking or dressing your vitamin-rich veggies. The unique flavor pairs well with many leafy greens and because of coconut oil’s medium-chain structure, it won’t break down when exposed to heat. It also makes a delicious replacement to butter over steamed veggies with a crack of Pink Himalayan salt (also high in nutrient rich minerals). Coconut oil also makes a delicious addition to baked foods, smoothies, and desserts.
10. Whiten teeth
We’ve probably all seen the coconut pulling craze, and I must admit I’ve personally tried & tested it and found it fantastic (even better when finishing up with a brush of activated charcoal on your toothbrush. Yet another coconut product!). It helps ease mouth ulcers and infections, but has incredible teeth whitening results when used regularly.
Oil pulling is an ancient method of cleaning the mouth and removing hidden bacteria from your gums and teeth – particularly plaque. Known as Kavala or Gundusha, oil pulling is a traditional Ayurvedic dental technique which involved swirling oil in your mouth on an empty stomach, so best done in the morning as soon as you wake up. Whilst oil pulling is primarily for oral hygiene, it is also believed to remove toxins that rise from the stomach, lungs and liver.
So there you have it. A multitude of reasons why having a jar of Organic Virgin Cold-pressed Coconut Oil in your pantry and bathroom isn’t such a bad idea.
Time for me to head off and get my daily coconut oil fix, inside & out!