A winner all the way, coconut oil is one fat which is indispensable and has taken the world by storm owing to its versatility and uniqueness.
Coconut is one fat that helps you lose weight by increasing metabolism. Being a medium chain triglyceride, it is easily absorbed and digested in the body and goes straight into the liver aiding metabolism and producing energy. Triglycerides also readily convert into ketones, which help functioning of the brain and reducing memory loss. These kind of fatty acids can easily be converted into energy, unlike other long chain fats, and this makes it easier to lose weight as these triglycerides increase metabolism and also easily convert fat into energy. VCO is also proven to stimulate the thyroid gland and help in conditions of hypothyroidism effectively.
Coconut oil supports almost all the functions of the body and is an abundant source of Lauric acid, naturally found in breast milk which then converts into monolaurin, a substance that aids immunity and growth. Large percentage of Lauric acid in coconut oil helps destroy a huge variety of bacteria, therefore it is found to be extremely beneficial in controlling stomach ulcers, tooth decay, food poisoning, dermatitis, mouth ulcers and cavities. No wonder it finds its way in organic toothpastes and is recommended for oil pulling, an oral hygiene technique which helps sensitivity, mouth ulcers, gum bleeding and even throat infections and chronic constipation and digestive disorders.
Virgin Coconut oil is also beneficial in increasing HDL or good cholesterol, which helps in prevention of coronary heart diseases. Interestingly virgin coconut oil is also alkaline in nature and that makes it extremely beneficial for creating an alkaline environment in the body, specially for cancer patients and those who suffer from acidity, heart burn etc.
Coconut oil is not only beneficial when consumed internally, it has commendable benefits on your skin and hair as well. Coconut oil is one of the oils which can penetrate your hair shaft by virtue of being a medium chain fatty acid, and that makes it an extremely good pre shampoo oil for damage control and retaining moisture.
While Coconut oil contains little Vitamin E, it has abundant Ferulic acid, an antioxidant more potent than Vitamin E, and another antioxidant called caffeic acid, which makes it an essential in skin care products for anti aging, sun-damage/burn, itching, dry or dehydrated hair and skin.
Capric and caprylic acid present in coconut oil not only renowned to stimulate thyroid gland, aiding fat metabolism and lowering resting heart rate, but these triglycerides are now being extensively used in skincare and hair care products to give luster and silky feel without being oily.
Coco glucoside, a derivative of coconuts is an ECOCERT mild detergent which is now replacing harsh chemicals like SLS, SLES in natural soaps,shampoos, bubble baths and shower gels.
Coconut derived soaps and liquid detergent offer very good cleansing and are gentle on skin. Owing to its rich lauric and myristic acid content, it gives a rich lather even in hard water and that makes it indispensable in handmade cold process soaps. These days it is also being used in making castile soap, which was earlier made with pure olive oil. These kind of soaps and detergents are biodegradable and safe for skin and eco system.
Now, here comes a word of caution, coconut oil is also reported to be comedogenic, which means it clogs the pores and also as acnegenic, so it can worsen acne pustules, so it is not recommended for external application for people who suffer from acne or excessive sebum.
Coconut oil also contains a polyphenol, catechin also found in green tea and cacao, lends antioxidant properties aids in reduction of fat and lowering LDL, it is also recognized to have anti-cancer activity. Apart from being an excellent moisture in small quantities, coconut oil has natural SPF (sun protection factor), which makes it indispensable in skin care products. That being said, please do not take coconut oil as a substitute for sunscreen, generally prescribed on most websites. It has an spf of 4-5 which is too low to provide complete sun protection. While the antioxidants present in coconut oil protect the skin from sun damage, it is not enough to provide a broad spectrum protection.
Virgin coconut oil is also proven to be beneficial in inflammatory and arthritic pains.
How to use coconut oil?
- Virgin coconut oil is best for internal consumption. This is the first extract.There are two ways of extraction, one is cold pressing, another is centrifugal separation of fat from coconut milk. Latter is much lighter and has a mild coconut taste, easier to eat raw.
- VCO can be added hot or cold beverages, but its yummy in hot coffee as a vegan alternative to milk.
- Salads- one of the most interesting way I consume coconut oil is in a salad which helps medium to chronic constipation or piles. Dice organic apple, organic ripe papaya, organic steamed beetroot, and cucumber. Combine them together in a bowl. Add two tbsp of VCO, 1 tsp honey, juice of one small lemon, salt. Chopped roasted almonds and 2 tsp of raisins. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or chill until coconut oil turns into tiny flakes. This is an excellent recipe for aiding digesting, adding fibre and lubricating inflamed digestive tract due to piles or chronic constipation.
This recipe is extremely healthy and a wonderful diet meal for everyone in general also. It boosts metabolism, gives energy, and helps in stimulating thyroid gland, and suitable for weight watchers too.
- In cooking, you can replace your regular oil with coconut oil. It has been proven to stay stable under high temperatures and not change its qualities during long hours of frying, which makes it the most suitable frying oil.
- External application for cuts, abrasions, burns and massage. Coconut oil is cooling in nature, so it is most suitable for people who suffer from heat related problems and are of pitta constitution, while vata and kapha types can combine it with some warming oils like olive, mustard or sesame.
- Coconut can be classified as a fruit, a nut or a seed. Its versatility makes it a complete food and survival ingredient. You could derive water, flour, sugar, oil, meat, fibre/yarn, soap/ detergent from this all in one wonder of nature.
Arti Gaur, ayurveda expert and owner of Quinta Essentia Organic beauty brand.