Monday, January 16, 2012

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

I always loved coconut, especially for the holidays I like to make macaroons. Lately, I also started using coconut milk for cooking and coconut oil for cooking and baking. Then, I started to investigate the health benefits of coconut and was very amazed to discover so many other benefits for coconut oil.

There have been many opinions about coconut oil regarding its “saturated fat” status, mainly that the experts say that it is not good for our diet. Recent studies have proven different; there are diverse kinds of saturated fats. The saturated fats that are not good for our bodies are the trans-fats which are made from hydrogenated oils and the long chain fatty acids (LCFA) like animal fats.

So, what’s so special about coconut oil?

Coconut oil is derived from the fruit of the coco palm (Cocos nucifera). The coconut palm produces fruits for up to 80 years and may live as long as 100 years. In its full production periods, each tree can yield 50-200 fruits per year depending on growing conditions.

The uses of coconuts are far-reaching. Along with being useful as food, the oil is being used in the beauty industry for hair and skin products. As a young plant it is used in gardens and public places as ornaments. After the production period, the palm tree gives its wood for furniture and home decorations. In the recent years, scientists have discovered the healing properties of the coconut and its oil.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

• The greatest benefit of coconut oil is that it is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT)  besides containing many minerals and anti-oxidants. MCT are helpful with weight-loss and the control of high cholesterol. MCT also called medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) produce energy while other dietary fats (long chain fatty acid) produce fat. There is MCT in mother’s milk to nourish and protect the young baby.

• Coconut is also rich in saturated fatty acids (about 92%)  such as lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which are all MCTs. These MTCs have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal,  anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. Since the oil is also absorbed through the skin one can rub it on the affected area. I have been using it on warts and with the help of wart removers, coconut oil helps to heal the skin without scars.

• Coconut oil supports the immune system. By replacing unsaturated vegetable oils with coconut oil we avoid their oxidation process. Many oils like corn or soybean oil oxidate through high heat. Coconut oil can be reheated with no harm to its original structure.

With so many health benefits and a very palatable taste, what do we have to lose? You will also discover that coconut oil will increase the metabolism and support weight loss.  It is beneficial for the heart because of the medium chain triglycerides content.

When you go to the grocery store next time, check out the international or health food aisle and look for the jar with the coconuts on it. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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