Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is derived from the milk obtained from fresh coconut meat by processes like fermentation, centrifugal separation and enzyme action. Care is taken to use no or as little heat as possible in the extraction of this oil. Produced in this way, the oil tastes and smells the best and is laden with antioxidants and medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). It also has remarkable anti-microbial properties. Pure virgin coconut oil, containing no hydrogenation (the process of adding hydrogen to make a liquid fat hard), contains 92% saturated fat -- the highest amount of saturated fat of any fat. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated coconut oil is found in cereals, baked goods, biscuits, salty snacks, soaps, cosmetics, and moisturizers.

Fractionated coconut oil is a fraction of the coconut oil from which almost all the long chain triglycerides are removed, thus leaving mainly the medium-chain triglycerides and making it an absolutely saturated oil. This saturation gives it a very, very long shelf life and greatly increased stability. In addition, fractionating raises the comparative concentration of Capric acid and Caprylic acid, thus giving it more of antioxidant and disinfecting effect.

Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature, found in animal products (such as meat, dairy, poultry with skin, and beef fat) and contain cholesterol. Unlike animal fats, tropical oils -- palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils -- are saturated fats that are called oils but depending on room temperature can be solid, semi-solid, or liquid, and do not contain cholesterol.

Like all fats, coconut oil is a blend of fatty acids. Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short and medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric (44%) and myristic (16.8%) acids. It is this unusual composition that may offer some health benefits.

Coconut oil is gaining favor with vegans, who prefer getting their saturated fat from plant foods. Chefs are discovering the unique properties of coconut oil in food because it has a high smoke point and hardening ability. It is being used in processed foods because it is relatively inexpensive and can provide crisp texture to foods. The high smoke point makes it resistant to oxidation and shelf stable.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Many studies have shown that diets rich in fats such as those found in coconut oil (MCFAs - medium chain fatty acids) prompted a boost in metabolism, increase in energy, decrease in food consumption, reduced body weight and lower body fat mass. Studies also indicate that MCFAs help increase feelings of fullness and lead to a reduction in calorie intake when compared to the same amount of calories from other fats. When MCFAs are metabolized, ketone bodies are created in the liver. These have been shown to have a strong appetite reducing effect helping you to loose fat faster.

Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has many uses in cooking, skin and hair care, minor first aid treatments and aromatherapy.
Cooking
  1. Because of its high smoke point coconut oil is good for use in baking and stir fries.
  2. Coconut oil can replace vegetable oil in any recipe.
  3. It is a good substitute for margarine or butter spreads (Vegan and Paleo friendly too).
  4. Can be used in smoothies to add healthy fat and a creamy, rich texture.
Skin Care
Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin. Coconut oil has moisturizing properties that can penetrate in to the deeper layers of your skin making it an excellent moisturizing body cream.
  1. Moisturize your skin. In lieu of your regular lotion, coconut oil delivers a refreshing, healing, burst of moisture that penetrates your skin and works to truly heal it (not just soak in and dry up!). It can feel oily at first, but that's why it's important to only use a little, it goes a long way. Give it a minute and it will dry beautifully. Use as you would regular lotion.
  2. Soften cracked heels. As a super moisturizer, coconut oil can help soften and smooth over that skin. Use a pumice stone first to slough off any excess buildup of cells, and then get a little bit of coconut oil on your fingertips. Massage into your heels well, and let dry. Repeat twice daily.
  3. Reduce fine lines. There are two main things that keep the skin supple but firm, collagen and elastin. Coconut oil's biologically active components (such as certain fatty acids) have been shown to increase collagen cross-linking, which is part of why it helps wounds heal faster. This same principle may be why it helps reduce fine lines/wrinkles. Apply twice daily, using as little amount as possible and rubbing in thoroughly, to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
  4. Prevent stretch marks. Stretch marks may occur during pregnancy, puberty, during rapid muscle mass gain, etc. and tend to be more extreme when there is an excess of cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands) involved. Anecdotal evidence suggest that keeping skin moisturized and supple can help prevent stretch marks, and what better moisturizer than coconut oil? Rub some onto the area twice daily (for example, your belly if you are pregnant) and massage it in well. You can also melt down some cocoa butter with the coconut oil for an extra moisturizing boost.
  5. Breastfeeding moms can use coconut oil as a natural nipple cream to soothe cracked nipples.
  6. Mix coconut oil with equal parts brown sugar to make a moisturizing scrub to use in the shower.
  7. Use coconut oil as shaving cream. Apply as you would any other cream before shaving. Water rolls right off oil, which means you have solid protection that allows your razor to glide smoothly over your skin. It also leaves it soft, moisturized, and safe from painful bumps and burns.
  8. It's a rash soother. Usually with a rash, there is itching and painful swelling. Coconut oil, with its anti-inflammatory effects, is an obvious go-to for helping the swelling. It will also help take the edge off the dreadful itching, curbing the vicious cycle of scratching and further irritating your skin. For eczema and psoriasis, rub on a thin layer of coconut oil to keep the area moisturized and healthy, while also fighting off fungus or bacteria that could set in as a secondary infection if you've been scratching.
  9. Fade age/sun spots. Coconut oil can help heal or lessen the appearance of a wide variety of skin blemishes, and people have found that daily application of it have helped fade sun or age spots. Rub coconut oil onto sun spots daily to help fade them.
Hair Care
Coconut oil can protect hair against damage.
  1. Use as a conditioner. When the teeny tiny overlapping plates that make up our outer hair shaft get rumpled and out of whack, coconut oil is there to smooth those tiny little cells right back into place, and hold them there. You can use it on your entire scalp/head for deep conditioning, or generally just use it on your ends.
  2. Rub a small dab of coconut oil on hands and run through the hair to help de-frizz.
  3. Use as a detangler. When you've got a nasty tangle, try using coconut oil to ease it out without any yanking, eye watering, or ripped out broken hairs. Dampen your hair well and then massage in coconut oil, letting it sit for 2-3 minutes. Starting at the bottom of the hair shaft, gently work your way up with a comb to get through the tangles.
Minor First Aid and Medicinal Uses
  1. Coconut oil can be used like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath. Use about a tablespoon of the melted oil and swish in your mouth for about 10 minutes.
  2. Melt some in to a cup of hot tea to soothe a sore throat.
  3. Use as a lip balm. Coconut oil has a mild SPF protection (4-6) and is a super moisturizer. Apply some coconut oil just before heading out into the sun, and reapply every few hours or use on chapped lips.
  4. Give your brain a boost. If you are in search of mental clarity, a few drops of coconut oil on the tongue can do the trick.
  5. A teaspoon of coconut oil before a meal can help aid digestion, prevent infections, and lessen many symptoms of common ailments.
  6. Apply a bit of coconut oil directly to a cold sore several times a day and it will not last as long. Coconut oil can inhibit the assembly of the cold sore virus and how it spreads.
  7. Soothe fly bites. Just get a little coconut oil on your fingertips and apply it directly to the bite for you, your children, dogs or horses.
  8. Ease arthritis pain. Acute inflammation present with arthritis is responsible for quite a bit of the discomfort and stiffness that accompanies this common malady. This can be eased by the anti-inflammatory effects of the coconut oil. Massage a bit of the oil into each joint thoroughly 1-2 times a day to relieve soreness.
  9. Minimize heartburn by swallowing 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil. It can get a little coating in your tummy and ease the painful feeling of heartburn or acid reflux. It also helps get that bitter bile taste out of your mouth.
  10. Help heal a bruise. Coconut oil may help speed the healing of tissue when used externally or internally, and can help repair tissue damage and reduce the time that it would normally take your bruise to heal and fade.
Aromatherapy
  1. Use as a great carrier/base oil. Lotions, lip balms, massage blends, body butters, sugar scrubs, coconut oil is a great go-to carrier/base oil. Its texture and consistency helps hold whatever it is you've created together, while contributing all of its awesome moisturizing and healing benefits.
  2. Liven up your lotions by using coconut oil to make hand or body lotion. It will improve its moisturizing abilities and smell great.
Cleaning/Household Uses
  1. Dust repellant. A thin layer of coconut oil rubbed into certain surfaces (such as wood, or a car dashboard) can help keep dust from collecting. Rub a small amount over the desired area, being sure to rub it in thoroughly, and then allow it to dry. Use ONLY enough as needed. You get a nice lustrous polished look and you keep the dust bunnies at bay. Be sure to test on a small area first.
  2. Clean sap. Rubbing the sappy spot with coconut oil and then rinsing with warm soapy water does wonders!
  3. Unstick a zipper or stop squeaky hinges. Apply a bit of coconut oil on the jammed zipper or squeaky hinge, rub it in a bit, and it should glide with ease or stop squeaking.

There are many uses for coconut oil and many great DIY (Do It Yourself) blends discussed on the internet. http://everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses and http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil are two quite good sites for finding out more about coconut oil.

Safety

  1. Taken internally, coconut oil should make up only 10% of your fats during a day. However, 1-2 tablespoons could be consumed without harm.

Sources

  1. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/coconut-oil-and-health
  2. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oils/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html
  3. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oils/fractionated-coconut-oil.html
  4. http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/
  5. http://everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses
  6. http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil/
  7. http://blueheronhealthnews.com/site/2014/11/03/12-ways-this-fat-boosts-your-health-and-beauty/