Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That is quite a remarkable statement associated with this natural and humble oil.
Wherever coconut palms grow, the people there understand the value of the food and medicine derived from the fruit. For centuries people have respected the curative properties of coconut oil.
The Scientific Name:
Cocos nucifera is the scientific name for coconut. Spanish explorers called it coco which means “monkey face” as it has three indentations on one end of the fruit, added to which long hairy fiber resembles a monkey. Nucifera literally means “nut – bearing”.
This oil which is a rich source of fiber, minerals and vitamins has more than ninety percent saturated fats. According to Dr. Weston the saturated fats in coconut oil occur naturally and are not the artificially created fats through the man made process known as hydrogenation. In his studies he found that the people of South Pacific Island thrived on a diet high in coconut and even then, had excellent cardiovascular health, with no clogged arteries.
Lauric acid, a compound found in coconut oil, is also present in mother’s milk. It helps to build the new born baby’s immune system. It is also a rich source of medium chain triglycerides.
There are several health benefits of coconut oil, both when used topically and also when consumed internally.
Coconut oil is applied on the scalp and hair extensively in India, as it prevents dandruff when massaged on a dry scalp. It nourishes damaged hair and is used as a conditioner.
Massaging the body and face with coconut oil delays wrinkles and sagging skin. It helps in curing problems like psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and dry flaky skin. This oil is the basic ingredient for many expensive products like soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions.
Coconut oil stimulates the metabolism and improves thyroid function while it also removes the stress on the pancreas. As this oil contains short and medium range fatty acids it helps in keeping off excessive weight. According to a study in the journal “Lipids”, 40 women are said to have lost belly fat when given coconut oil in their diet along with an exercise regimen.
Coconut oil although very high in saturated fats, contains 50% of lauric acid which prevents high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Unlike other vegetable oils it does not lead to increased LDL levels. It reduces the incidence of injury to arteries which will prevent atherosclerosis.
The saturated fats in coconut oil prevent growth of fungi and parasites that cause indigestion and related problems like irritable bowel syndrome. It helps in absorption of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
When applied on wounds and cuts, coconut oil forms a shield, consequently preventing the entry of dust, bacteria and virus. It speeds up the healing process while repairing damaged tissue.
Coconut Oil for Cooking:
Dr. Joseph Mercola finds that olive is best for salad dressings – but unstable on heating, as a result he found coconut oil best for cooking. According to him the polyunsaturated fats like corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola, when heated produced toxins as well as trans-fats. The only oil that is stable enough to withstand high temperatures while cooking is coconut oil.
Sources: Coconut Research Center: Dr Joseph Mercola