Top 15 health and nutrition benefits of coconut oil
Coconut has been in existence since 4000 years ago. It can be found in various sub tropical regions such as India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Oceana and Philippines.
In India, it has been mentioned in Sanskrit Vedas that the coconut is used fundamentally in every aspect; it may be either for physical or mind purposes. With due course of time, coconut has been found to be helpful in every sector. There have been many speculations that it is useful for health purposes.
The name coconut has been derived from Portuguese and Spanish word called ‘cocos’ which means either head or skull. Coconut has been named so because it has a concavity of certain features. Scientific name of coconut is Cocos nucifera. Coconut belongs to the family Arecaceae and is grown in coconut palm trees.
Scientifically it has been observed that coconut is not a true nut instead it is a drupe. It has three layers: exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp. Exocarp and mesocarp form the hair like structure of coconut which is known as husk. The Endocarp region is initially watery like a substance which is still in its nuclear phase. The endocarp region accumulated inside coconut and forms a fleshy substance which is edible.
Coconut tree is known to bethe most useful tree in the world. Every part or layer of the coconut tree as well as the drupe is used by mankind. Coconut trees have a very high economic importance. The flesh or white portion of the fruit is used for food purposes such as a fruit, flour and milk. The water inside the coconut is used as a healthy and a refreshing drink. Coconut can also be processed into oil which is useful for cooking, skin and hair care. The shells of the fruit are used as a craft material or for steamed food. The husks are manufactured to form ropes and natural scrubbers. Flowers of a coconut tree are used to cure diseases and manufacturing of medicines. The sticks are used to prepare brooms for household purposes.
Types of coconut oil
Types of coconut oil are on the basis of different types of extraction processes. The method is either dry or wet.
In dry method, the flesh of the coconut is heated in fire for the extraction of copra which is kernels of coconut. The copra is then processed to form the oil.
In a wet method, instead of copra, the coconut milk is used. This coconut milk is an emulsion of oil and water. This emulsion is processed to extract the oil. In present times, centrifugation, distillation and various enzymes are used for the extraction of oil.
Virgin coconut oil
The main difference between refined and the virgin coconut oil is the procedure by which the manufacturing is done. Virgin coconut oil is prepared from the fresh copra or fresh coconuts. In the extraction method the oil is neither refined nor bleached or deodorized.
Virgin coconut oil is known to be an even healthier option because it doesn’t use any chemical for extraction; instead it is expelled. If the oil isn’t expeller pressed, the cold pressers are used which can alter the nutritional value of oil.
The antioxidants in the virgin oil are duly maintained to keep the nutrition level of oil high. It is not refined that is why the flavor of coconut is maintained and is higher than the refined coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil is also very less consistent. Because it is unrefined there are small particles in the oil.
Refined coconut oil
As the name suggests, the refined coconut oil is well refined with all the procedures. The oil is also bleached or deodorized.
In comparison with virgin coconut oil, the refined oil is less healthy as it loses its nutritional value. It is not made with fresh coconuts instead dried coconuts are used or else copra is processed.
For the extraction procedures, the solvents are used which means that it is generally chemically treated. The expeller pressed method doesn’t usually exist but is very rare. Because of chemical treatment and the dry coconuts, the flavor of the oil is very little.
Refined coconut oil is very consistent because of the refining treatments. Still, the refined coconut oil is less expensive than the virgin coconut oil.
Energy 3730kJ (890kcal)
Vitamin E 0.3mg
Vitamin K 0.6µg
Mineral 0.05 mg
Phytosterols 86 mg
15 health and nutritional benefits from coconut oil
1. Increases HDL, ‘the good cholesterol’
Experiments have been conducted to prove how coconut oil increases the level of HDL. Initially it is important to study about the increased LDL because of coconut oil. Experiments have been conducted which shows that there is no increase in LDL after the intake of coconut oil.
While measuring the increase in HDL level, it was seen that after consuming coconut oil there is an increase of HDL, approximately 15%. HDL is known as ‘the good cholesterol’ because it removes the bad cholesterol which is LDL.
It can be surprising because coconut oil has saturated fat which also consists of lauric acid. But with this it is cleared that there are different types of saturated fats which might be useful for the body. Lauric acid is processed in such a way that it doesn’t affect the body in any harmful manner. This in return can maintain heart health.
2. Works as an Antihistamine
A little coconut oil on any kind of inflammation can reduce the histamine effects. The research has been done on rats with Virgin coconut oil which is not treated with any chemical and persists all the natural properties of a coconut. Coconut oil can reduce the inflammatory action because it is helpful in reducing the transudative weight, granuloma formation and serum alkaline phosphatase activity.
Coconut oil decreases the anti-analgesic effects on ethyl – phenylpropiolate. Coconut oil is a natural way to reduce the inflammation even if it is a mosquito bite. It also reduces the redness and gives a cooling sensation to inflammation. If the inflammation is not chronic, then it is advised to use coconut oil as a natural remedy.
3. Fighting with diabetes
Coconut oil doesn’t necessarily treat diabetes but is observed to be helpful in relieving the symptoms.
The diet of coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids. The chain length of these fatty acids is approximately 6 to 12 long chains of Carbon atoms.
These medium chain fatty acids not only prevent obesity but also provide resistance in insulin. Obesity and insulin resistance both are the fundamental symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Medium chain fatty acid has been shown to decrease the accumulation of fat and also sustains the insulin in either fat or muscles. The coconut oil can be taken in diet. But all of these symptoms are seen to be relieved in type 2diabetes and not in type 1diabetes.
4. Effective in fungal disease such as candida
Candida is a type of yeast infection which is natural as well as sugar digesting. There are many types of candida but the main form is Candida Albicans. It forms a colony in an affected area and with time increases the fungal infection. Coconut oil not only prevents the spreading of infection but also relieves the existing infection.
Coconut oil consists of medium chain fatty acids, two of them are lauric acid and caprylic acid. These fatty acids have the property of antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. It can kill the potential microorganisms.
Caprylic, capric and lauric acid are three important medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil. They penetrate into the cell and rupture the cell wall of candida cells and inhibit and disintegrate the growth of yeast.
5. Maintain liver health
Liver is known to be the most typical working organ of the body. Liver is used for detoxification, building up of protein, secretion of hormones and production of bile for digestion. Medium chain fatty acids in the liver are derived from medium chain triglycerides which are two third in coconut oil.
Medium chain fatty acids are then transported to the liver from the digestive tract. Unlike any other fatty acids, they do not accumulate but are directly converted into energy. This conversion is helpful because it reduces the workload of the liver.
These fatty acids also have certain anti- microbial properties which can kill the infection attacking the liver. It also gives protection from the free radical injury.
6. Help lose weight
The main reason that coconut oil can reduce weight is that it enhances the appetite regulation and increases the feeling of fullness. Because of the medium chain triglycerides, there is a decrease in hunger. Because of the increase in fullness, there will be reduction in belly fat.
It is important to keep in mind that coconut oil shouldn’t be refined because then it loses the properties of oil. It is recommended to use virgin coconut oil.
7. Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
It is claimed that Alzheimer’s disrupts the ability of the brain. In Alzheimer’s there is excessive use of energy and the reduced amount of energy production.
The coconut oil is metabolized to form ketones. The ketones are then processed to form glucose which acts as an energy source for the body. Ketone acts as an alternative energy source for Alzheimer’s patients.
Coconut oil can not treat Alzheimer’s disease completely but can only relieve the symptoms of the disease. It relieves the pain of the patient and gives the energy to the patient for the daily metabolic activities.
8. Relieves the symptoms of arthritis
Arthritis can have many symptoms which are relieved by either applying or intaking it. One of the symptoms is inflammation in joints. In arthritis, joints in the body are inflamed and it becomes hard to move and perform any task. Coconut oil also provides strength to the bones.
It also provides the relief in pain caused by the arthritis. The coconut oil is mixed with the camphor which increases the blood supply to affected joints. It leads to a warming effect and reduces the amount of pain.
The coconut oil also helps in the lubrication of the joints. The massage from the oil increases the blood circulation in joints and helps them to reduce the stiffness and increase the mobility of joints.
9. Lower the blood pressure
It is believed that polyunsaturated fats such as omega-6 fatty acids like soybean and vegetable oils increase the blood pressure and have been reported to constrict the blood vessel. Even coconut oil has omega-3 fatty acids in coconut oil but it does not have the same effect. It widens the blood vessels and relieves the inflammation of arteries.
It might not necessarily affect the blood pressure to that extent but the changes have been observed.
10. Improvement in digestion
The GI tract is the most important part of the human body as all the food is digested here. It contains numerous germs and bacteria which need to be killed. To disrupt them the GI tract contains many enzymes but still there might be problems in killing them because of the unhealthy diets.
Coconut oil consists of medium chain triglycerides and has certain antimicrobial properties. When it is consumed, the triglycerides are converted into monoglycerides and free fatty acids. They are easier to digest and lead to the improved digestion.
There is a higher amount of nutrient digestion as well. Coconut oil also has a disrupting effect which gradually destroys the membranes of the harmful bacteria until it dies. It can be so effective that it can also kill the germs which are resistant to certain antibiotics.
It also reduces the inflammation in the digestive tract and provides a soothing effect. This results in calming the pain.
11. Boost bone health
It has already been previously described that massaging with coconut oil gives a warming effect and helps in the increase of mobility. It can also prevent diseases such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease where bones become weak, brittle and dense.
Coconut oil has antioxidant properties which is helpful in maintaining the proper structure of the bones. It also prevents the loss of bones because of certain hormonal changes.
With the increase in age it becomes very common to suffer from bone related diseases. Constant use of coconut oil helps in the lubrication of the joints.
Regular massaging of the bones increases the blood supply of the bone and relaxes the bone from any pain. It neutralizes any harmful effect which might later affect the health of bone.
12. Anti- microbial effect
It has been described that coconut has medium chain fatty acids. These fatty acids have an anti- microbial effects which are helpful in skin infections. Application of coconut oil not only prevents the growth of any kind of skin infection but also kills the bacterial as well as fungal infection. It kills off the strains of bacteria.
Coconut oil has lauric acid which can fight with microorganisms. These microorganisms are killed because of the regular massage from coconut oil. So, the growth of any kind of infection is inhibited.
13. Anti- aging component
There are many readymade cleansers which can have harmful chemicals and can ruin the skin. The coconut oil has natural properties of anti- bacterial, anti- fungal as well as moisturizing. Coconut has a high amount of lauric acid and many more fatty acids which smoothes the skin.
It also contains vitamin E which is an original anti- oxidant. This helps to slow down the aging of skin. This also helps to reduce the damages caused by free radicals and sun.
Coconut oil also acts as sunscreen. It also protects from the UV rays.
14. Heals the wound
The coconut oil also has anti- bacterial properties due to which it helps in curing the cuts. It also heals the scrapes and wound.
15. Increase in metabolism
Because of the saturated fats in coconut oil, it might be called unhealthy oil. But the triglycerides are converted into monoglycerides which are easy to digest. The easy digestion helps in the increased metabolism.
The increase in metabolism increases the energy in the body and lets the body function properly. It also increases the number of calories burnt. That is why it can be helpful for those who want to reduce belly fat and do regular exercise.
Easy tips and tricks from coconut oil
Besides health and nutritional benefits there are many tips and tricks. It has been widely known that coconut is called superfood because of the all rounder properties. Some of them are:
Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer which can be used in dry skin. If you do not have any moisturizer around you, you can never go wrong with coconut oil.
It helps a lot for the people who have cracked skin. It can also heal the cracked heels and elbows. This not only moisturizes the skin but also helps to prevent any infection. It can be used in daily life.
Protect hair from damage
Coconut oil can keep the hair healthy. It has lauric acid which enters the shaft of the hair skin.
When used before or after shampooing, it reduces the damage of protein from the hair. It also helps in regaining the shine from hair.
For better results it is necessary to use oil twice in a week.
Coconut oil has been proven to be the only non toxic insect repellent. Because of the smell of virgin coconut oil, insects do not sit on the skin.
It would be better if you apply coconut oil with any other carrier oil for better use. It keeps the bugs away and avoids any bites or stings.
It is a well known fact that sweat doesn’t have any smell but the bacteria and microorganisms living on the surface of the skin react with the sweat to cause a nasty smell.
Virgin coconut oil has a very strong smell which after applying not only kills the bacteria and microorganism but also destroys the nasty smell. It lets the body smell good.
Heal ragged cuticle
Everyone gets irritated by the ragged cuticle. At times, we also tend to spend a lot on the expensive manicure.
To skip that there is a natural way as well to fight the ragged cuticle. A little coconut oil can heal the cuticles and soften the skin. After applying you need to massage the cuticle for a few moments.
Apply daily for a few months and you will have finger nails just like it is manicured.
To remove makeup, there are many makeup removers but if the bottle is finished, the coconut oil can be used for the rescue.
The makeup removers could ruin your skin or make it dry but the coconut oil not only acts as a remover but also moisturizes your skin.
You can apply coconut oil with a cotton pad until the traces of makeup are gone.
Soothe chapped lips
Coconut oil is proven to be the natural as well as effective way to treat the chapped lips. Instead of spending a lot on lip balm, you can use coconut oil. It acts like a lip balm.
If you mix a little eye shadow or lip color in coconut oil, it can also prove to be nice colored lip balm.
Shine the wood furniture
Coconut oil proves to be furniture shiner as well. After applying the coconut oil to the natural wood, it also acts as a dust repellent. It also gives a pleasant and soothing aroma.
Coconut, as you know, does not have any strong fragrances. It gives a meditating atmosphere.
That is how essential coconut and coconut oil can be. May it be health or little DIYs; it can help any problem you might have. Coconut oil is an all-rounder super food.