Most of us love and are familiar with the delicious taste and smell of coconut when it is eaten raw or cooked. But did you know that coconut oil can be beneficial for health and beauty, and that it is being considered the next “superfood”?
In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system, coconut oil has is used as a key element for well-being. The benefits of coconut oil are endless. It has been considered the healthiest oil on earth, and there is a ton of evidence to back this up!
In the 50s, coconut oil was already being called “the drugstore in a bottle”. According to Dr. Millet from the Harvard School of Public Health, coconut oil has 92% of saturated fat, which is far more than most other edible oils. Unlike other oils, coconut oil is solid at room temperature because of all those saturated chemical bonds. It is also quite unique because it contains a high percentage of medium-chain fatty triglycerides–MCTs.
After coconut oil has been ingested, MCTs go directly from the intestine to the liver, where they are converted into ketone bodies, and used as fuel which is burned off to produce energy. Therefore metabolic activity is higher, there is less fat is circulating in the blood stream, and less fat accumulates in the body. The list of benefits of coconut oil goes on and on but here are a few to get you started.
Coconut oil acts as a natural antibiotic and antioxidant
Lauric acid, the MCT present in coconut oil, has antimicrobial activity against bacteria, many fungi, and viruses. Lauric acid found in coconut oil has proven to kill the bacteria that causes staphylococcus aureus (responsible for many skin infections and bloodstream infections) and the yeast Candida Albicans (a common yeast). Because of this many commercial products use lauric acid as an antimicrobial agent.
A recent study published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013, conducted at the University of Kerala, India, showed that a diet enriched with virgin coconut oil is beneficial in reducing oxidative stress (which causes cell damage and is responsible for a wide variety of disorders ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer) and that it is a powerful antioxidant.
Coconut oil combats brain disease
Coconut oil has therapeutic effects in brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. This is supported by several studies. One study stated that consumption of MCTs led to immediate improvement in patients with milder forms of the disease. The fatty acids found in coconut oil are being intensively studied as potential therapeutic agents in Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides Alzheimer’s disease, another important therapeutic application of coconut oil is the treatment of childhood epilepsy. The ketogenic diet (diet high in ketone bodies) is a high-fat, adequate protein, low carbohydrate diet that has been used for the treatment of intractable childhood epilepsy since the 1920s. In 2008, The Lancet, Neurology published that there was a 75% decrease in seizures. The MCTs found in coconut oil increase the concentration of ketone bodies, which has helped to reduce seizures.
Coconut oil helps with weight loss and decreases metabolic syndrome
We all want to be in shape, and with obesity being the largest public health problem on the planet today, this is the time to take action. In 1996, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine in Geneva, Switzerland stated that MCTs in coconut oil can increase 24-hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%–which means about 120 calories per day. This will definitely lead to weight loss. Metabolic syndrome is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as a group of risk factors that raise your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and great for your skin
Coconut oil is used in many natural beauty products. Coconut oil is a wonderful, natural way to make your skin soft, radiant and healthy. It penetrates hair better than other oils and smells like heaven! This luscious oil is naturally antimicrobial, moisturizing and, according to research, great for eczema and psoriasis.You can use it as a moisturizer for your whole body.
Coconut oil can also be used as a face wash. Instead of spending a lot of money on beauty products, all you need is raw (virgin is better) coconut oil. The double-cleansing method is extremely simple: rub the oil in circular motions all over your face and neck, giving yourself a gentle massage as you go. When you’re done, wash off the residue with your favorite cleanser.
You don’t need those expensive body scrubs anymore. This DYI beauty secret is inexpensive and free of chemicals you find in most store-bought body scrubs! Pour half a cup of slightly warm coconut oil over one cup of brown sugar or salt and stir well. If you have some on hand, add in five drops of your favorite essential oil or pure vanilla extract. This scrub will work wonders and will smell so amazing that you will want to eat it! You can use coconut oil as a natural cheekbone highlighter, many natural makeup brands use it in their formulas already. All you have to do is gently apply a small amount of coconut oil on top of your make up and leave it alone.
Coconut oil makes hair beautiful
Coconut oil is the perfect hair conditioner. It will leave your hair silky and with a healthy shine. Lauric acid in coconut oil has a high affinity for hair protein and easily enters the hair shaft (the non-growing part of a hair that extends from the follicle on the skin).
A study published in 2003 by the Nature Care Division of Marico Industries in Mumbai, India found coconut oil reduces the protein loss in both undamaged and damaged hair when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product. The study explains that because of its low molecular weight and linear chain composition, it can penetrate inside the hair shaft–attaching onto the hair protein and preventing damage.
Try applying warm coconut oil on your head and washing your hair the next morning. Make sure to sleep with a towel over your pillow. When you wake up, wash it off and feel the difference. Your scalp will feel nourished and your hair will look silkier than ever! Extra virgin coconut oil is available in local supermarkets or in health food shops as cooking oil in jars, bottles or tubs, or as soft gel capsules containing 1000mg or 2000mg. You may also find coconut oil in your local Indian supermarket.
Natural coconut-producing countries, like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and parts of the Caribbean, have always used coconut oil as their oil of preference. Try it out for yourself and embrace this surprisingly miraculous oil!
Featured photo credit: MaraZe via shutterstock.com