Coconut oil has over 4000 years of recorded use, having been used in ancient India, where it was extracted using something similar to a pestle and mortar. While it is considered an exotic food by western people, many populations of the world have thrived for many generations on a diet high in coconut. Let’s start by clearing up some confusion.
Saturated fat good or bad?
Until recently all saturated fats have been given a bad rap as cholesterol raising and thus increasing the risk of heart disease. This appears to be misinformation.
Only in the last four decades has coconut oil received a reputation as a ‘bad fat’ due to studies which showed that hydrogenated coconut oil raised cholesterol to unhealthy levels in laboratory animals. This information was seized upon and used to misrepresent the saturated fat in coconut as bad fat, even though it was the hydrogenation which had turned the fatty acids to trans fats, and caused this result.
The type of coconut oil we are discussing and recommending here is organic raw ‘virgin’ coconut oil, cold pressed and extracted by centrifuge, having never been refined, hydrogenated, deodorised or bleached. Such an unadulterated coconut oil actually helps to normalise cholesterol levels, as well as being good for thyroid function, metabolism, hormone and brain health. It is easy to digest, broken down by our bodies lipase enzymes, giving us an immediate energy boost, and even helping us to lose weight.
The type of saturated fat it contains is called Medium Chain Triglycerides (Medium Chain Fatty Acids) which are much healthier than Long Chain Triglycerides, the type of saturated fats found in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Cocounut oil is one of the few sources of MCTs alongside Palm oil and Cacao oil/butter.
Being stable at high temperatures makes coconut oil the best choice of cooking fat, and a much healthier cooking oil than vegetable oils.
A major component and most highly valued health property of the coconut oil is the lauric acid it contains (almost 60%). Lauric acid is a precursor that makes monolaurin in our bodies, both are natural antibiotics useful for eliminating parasites, viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi. Other disease fighting components include smaller amounts of caprylic acid, capric acid and myristic acid. This makes it a great food to consume when fighting yeast overgrowth / candida / fungal infections.
Coconut oil has numerous external as well as internal uses, in fact many body care products can be replaced with this one simple ingredient. Here is a small selection to start.
Makes an excellent deodorant
Eye make-up remover
Toothpaste (together with baking soda)
Oil pulling (mouth wash)
Sexual lubricant (not together with latex condoms)
Hair treatment (leave in overnight and then shampoo out)
Strengthens nails and cuticles
Lip gloss, adds a sheen to the cheekbones
Fungal infections eg athletes foot
Sun protection – blocking about 20% of the suns UV rays
In the kitchen:
Best oil for frying / cooking
Add a tablespoon to a smoothie
Blend a tablespoon into a hot drink, like tea, coffee or hot chocolate
Use as an alternative to butter or margarine
Eat a couple of teaspoons straight from the jar to boost metabolism
Use in raw desserts to create a cheesecake texture
Coconut Oil versus Coconut Cream
There is quite a bit of confusion about the different coconut products available since a few common terms are used interchangeably; coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut cream, coconut mousse, – all of which may refer to one of two products.
Coconut OIL is the extracted fat from the white flesh of the coconut. It is liquid in warm temperatures and solid in cool temperatures. Another popular product is the homogenised flesh of the coconut, ‘coconut cream’. In this case nothing has been extracted or removed and it contains the fat alongside the fibre and protein. This will normally be solid, though will become softer with heat, is much thicker and creamier and also sweeter tasting than the oil. It is a useful kitchen ingredient, however it is the extracted oil which is recommended here for all the body care uses as well as being the product of choice for frying in.
Check out our amazing Organic Coconut oil and other Coconut products here.