The most widely popular and immensely loved fruit of India, especially downsouth; Coconuts have innumerable benefits. It is quite astonishing how one tree and a medium sized fruitcan be useful in so many different ways. It can truly be named as the champion among all fruits or a super-fruit. The use of coconuts are well known in most tropical regions both in India as well as outside India. But Indians have a very particular proclivity for using it in many different places. These different areas of application are becoming increasingly popular in other countries where people are beginning to understand the various health benefits and the usage of coconuts in different spheres of life. Coconuts are available as the fruits of the Coconut Palm Trees. Even though it is called a ‘nut’, it technically isn’t one. The Coconut is actually a drupe; a category of fruit with a single seed. A boon to tropical places, the sweet, cool water of the Tender Coconut feels incredibly soothing and almost divine on a hot summer’s day.
What kind of Fat is Coconut Oil?
Coconut Oil is used for cooking possibly in every single house of Kerala as well as many other parts of India. But due to its high concentration of saturated fats, people generally tend to shy away from using it. With about 90% of the fatty acids in Coconut Oil being saturated, it IS actually the greatest source of saturated fat on Earth. However these are not your common, everyday saturated fats mostly available in Cheese or Steak. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs); fatty acids of a medium length are present in Coconut Oil which are ingested in a different way compared to long-chain fatty acids. Cheese and Steak contain long-chain fatty acids. MCTs work in a very different way in that they immediately reach the liver post consumption where they are converted into ketone bodies and are used as a quick energy source. Ketone bodies are said to have curative effects on various brain disorders like Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Medium-Chain fats are easily metabolized into energy by the liver and won’t likely be stored as excess fat in fat-prone areas of your body like thighs, hips or stomach provided your overall calorie intake is controlled. Lauric acid is a saturated fat that raises the level of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol as well as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol thus increasing total blood cholesterol profile. Lauric acid may lead to an increase in risk of cardiovascular diseases when consumed in excess but it does not mean that it is totally harmful and must be avoided at all costs.
Coconut Oil was falsely accused for a very long time of being just a fad. But the fact remains that the use and consumption of Coconut Oil has been prevalent since thousands of years in most tropical civilizations. The knowledge about the proven benefits of Coconut Oil were very much present and have been passed on from generation to generation since times immemorial. A substance known as Lauric acid that is present in abundance in Coconut Oil is well known for its pathogen fighting abilities. These are not merely amusing stories but well researched and evident facts. The United States once made generous use of Coconut Oil and it used to be a preferred choice for the baking industry. Sadly, a negative campaign suddenly cropped up against saturated fats that encouraged people to embrace hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that were available through government-subsidised cash crops like Corn and Soy. But these hydrogenated oils contain Trans fatty acids. Health Organizations all over the world like the United States Food and Drug Administration, The World Health Organization, The International College of Nutrition, The United States Department of Health and Human Services, The American Dietic Association, The American Heart Association, The British National Health Service and The Dieticians of Canada have all advised against the consumption of Coconut Oil. However these Organizations have overlooked its undeniable benefits. Though it is true that excess consumption of any fatty substance can lead to harmful effects but in a country like India where people thrive on heavy, spicy food owing to extremes of climate, one just cannot do away with the usage of Coconut Oil. Countries like Sri Lanka and India that use copious amounts of Coconut Oil in their food have much lower cases of Heart Disease compared to most Americans who fight daily against Obesity due to unhealthy fats like Bacon and Cheese. Some research even go on to say that Coconut Oil obscurely improves Cholesterol levels by expediting fat-breaking enzymes in the body. The real truth about Coconut Oil is well known to native tropic cultures where coconuts have been a staple diet for eons.
Coconut Oil has a very long shelf life with extremely potent medicinal properties. It has a melting point of 76 degrees. Coconut Oil is a skin friendly oil owing to its effective moisturizing and healing properties. It is suited for all skin types ranging from normal to very dry skin. It is also commonly used as a massage oil and is said to promote hair growth and flaking of the scalp. It can be applied all over the body since there is absolutely no risk of any side-effects from skin application, unlike mineral oil. Not only does it prevent dryness but also delays wrinkling and sagging of skin. The good number of antioxidant properties in Coconut Oil help prevent degenerative diseases like Premature Ageing and reduces activity of skin diseases like Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis and several other skin infections to a great extent. Body care products like Soaps, Lotions and Creams make use of Coconut Oil as the primary base ingredient. Coconut Oil works interestingly on eggs. If you are wondering how to store eggs for a long time by prolonging their life, you can try Coconut Oil. Rub a small portion of Coconut Oil on the outer shell of an egg and let it penetrate for some time. Once inside, it limits the exposure of the egg to Oxygen thus preventing spoilage and extending shelf life of eggs when stored in the refrigerator to about 1 or 2 weeks. Coconut Oil is said to contribute significantly in treatment of diseases like Diabetes, Heart Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and also for strengthening of the Immune System.
Coconut Oil and Weight Loss.
Despite the high calorie and unsaturated fat content, people use it in their weight loss and Cholesterol reducing plans. Replace unhealthy calories with 1 or 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil which make for a healthy and delicious addition to your diet. You don’t need to drink it by the tablespoon but simply slide it into your everyday diet. But you must understand that they do not help you shed body fat miraculously in spite of the general hype.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy for you?
And now the biggest question that eludes people time and again. Is Coconut Oil Good For Your Heart? Recent Data has actually shown that saturated fats are harmless. The idea that prolonged use of Coconut Oil clogs arteries and leads to heart diseases has been proved to be a myth as per well executed studies involving hundreds of people. While the American Heart Association has stated that the intake of saturated fat must not exceed 13 grams which makes up for 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil, there are studies that suggest that the MCT-saturated fat in Coconut Oil increases your ‘good cholesterol’ or HDL. This is much healthier and more beneficial to heart health than Cheese or Steak that contain Trans fats. But as mentioned earlier, it also raises LDL which forms plaque and blocks arteries. Nevertheless, any kind of Oil when had in excess can harm the body and like all other types of food must be controlled and balanced.
Here are some quite interesting uses of Coconut Oil in daily life:
- Coconut Oil is a naturally occurring SPF 4 sunscreen. It increases sun tolerance of skin and prevents sun burns.
- Acts as a natural energy booster when added to food and drinks.
- It has deodorizing properties and can be used as a homemade deodorant.
- It can be applied to the baby’s bottom to prevent and soothe diaper rash.
- Coconut Oil supports and regulates healthy function of the Thyroid Gland.
- Don’t spend on expensive make-up removers which may harm skin due to chemicals present in them. Just take a little bit of Coconut Oil in a swab of cotton and watch how it magically removes stubborn eye-make up.
- During pregnancy, apply Coconut Oil to prevent stretch marks from occurring.
- Don’t go for Topical Creams. Use Coconut Oil to kill yeast or yeast infections.
- Make your own DIY Re-mineralizing Toothpaste with the help of Coconut Oil.
- Age spots can be visibly reduced by rubbing Coconut Oil directly.
- And finally, what Coconut Oil does best. Bake, stir-fry or use it as a replacement to Butter. Coconut Oil has a high smoke point and is a master of kitchens giving you the best tasting food that will leave you smacking your lips and almost eating your fingers. Deep fried fish with lots of Masala in Coconut Oil tastes like heaven and everyone should definitely try it!
- Once a week rub your hands, feet and your entire body with some coconut Oil and leave it on for a few minutes. After that take a bath and wash off the excess. You won’t need to invest on expensive moisturisers.
- Coconut Oil works like magic on hair. Continuous application or a regular deep conditioning treatment will leave you with thick, luscious, to-die for hair and you can kiss your hair fall woes goodbye forever.
- Make Homemade Mayonnaise with Coconut Oil minus the High PUFA Vegetable Oils.
- Cradle Cap in babies can be removed by gently massaging Coconut Oil on the head. Leave it on for a few minutes after which it can be gently rinsed off using a warm cloth.
- Coconut Oil can be emulsified into Coffee and used as a Coffee Creamer.
- Coconut Oil is Ultra-Hydrating and repairs chapped lips. Use a spare Contact Lens holder to scoop a little on to it and keep it in your purse to dab a little on your lips throughout the day as a natural lip balm.
- After applying make-up swipe a little bit of Coconut Oil on top of your finished face. This will make your skin glow and work as a great highlighter for the cheekbones leaving you looking fresh and relaxed after a tired day. Doing this will let you save a ton of money on store-bought highlighters.
Coconut Oil is definitely a super food that nourishes and gives food a rich, creamy taste and assists in body care. This tropical treasure-trove can be used for sautéing, baking and by adding it in your favorite recipes, they will no longer be the same but will definitely blow your mind away. Coconut grated South Indian curries taste wonderful and their beautiful aroma and smooth/sweet flavor will leave you wanting more. Some Coconut Oil products are deemed as ‘Virgin’ oils meaning, they aren’t refined, deodorized or bleached. The term ‘Virgin’ generally means that the Oil is unprocessed. Other types that claim to be ‘cold pressed’ mean that a mechanical method is used to press out the oil but without application of heat from outside. Coconut Oil is a much better substitute for butter on bread, vegetables or popcorn. Constantly penalized for its generous saturated fat content, Coconuts definitely deserve the respect that they have been denied for a very long time. Its high time we begin to identify healthy food. Take a stand to fight against illnesses that plague our planet in this age. Every day millions of people succumb to diseases caused due to food that they have no idea are actually harming them. Decide to protect yourself and your family against unhealthy eating and we need not be under the mercy of prayers!