There has been a huge boom with coconut oil in the health food industry in recent years. When I first heard about it, you could only get it online. Now it's in every grocery store, and all the big name food companies have their own brand, even Crisco! The USDA reported that the production of coconut oil went from 5.9 million tons in 2005-2006, to 6.2 million tons in 2010-2011. It's been shown to have health benefits for your brain, skin, hair, and your mouth. It's also a great oil for frying and provides the good fats that some oils don't contain. So join me in exploring the 7 wonders of coconut oil and let's see what the fuss is all about!
1. Are You Saying I'm Fat?
Coconut oil is known for its high content of saturated fats. Many people assume that for this reason, it's not a good oil for you to consume or cook with. On the contrary, it contains saturated fats that are going to enhance your health. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are the saturated fats in coconut oil. They are shorter than your average saturated fat (long chain triglycerides), so they are broken down differently in the body. Because of their genetic makeup, they are sent straight to the liver and broken down into ketone bodies that are immediately used for a source of energy and are therefore, not stored in the body. If we were speaking of long-chain triglycerides, they are a larger molecule, need more time to breakdown, and are then stored in the body as fat. On another note, MCTs will increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. HDL levels are important to look at because these are the proteins that take the fat away from the cells in the body, and prevent things like atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
2. The Greatest Brain Food You can Provide! Dementia and Altzheimer's Diseases are being studied more and more to determine the root cause. Although there is still no definitive answer, there are some ways to prevent the symptoms from progressing. Coconut oil is one of those remedies. It provides alternative ketone bodies for the malfunctiong cells in the brain of those with Dementia or Altzheimers. Because they are broken down more efficiently than long-chain fats, they can be used quicker and have been shown to prevent further symptoms.
3. It's a Natural Waist-Watcher
Weight loss is always a focus in one way or another in today's world. Someone, somewhere is always looking for the magic pill to help them drop weight. So while we're all still searching for it, coconut oil can help ease the pain a bit. Consuming a tablespoon a day has been shown in studies to decrease appetite AND the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis. Eating coconut oil can increase your energy expenditure. In Layman's terms, it makes your body burn off calories quicker than the average Joe. Going along with that, the ketones in the oil also have an appetite reducing effect which will decrease your appetite without you even realizing, and therefore, you burn off more than you chew! It's a win-win in my book.
4. Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire Coconut oil has a very high smoke point. What does this mean and why do we care? Well, the higher the smoke point, the higher the temperature you can use before you smoke yourself out of your kitchen. Many coconut oil connoisseurs use this oil for frying for this reason. You can fry foods up to 350 degrees F without the oil producing any smoke. All oils have smoke points at different temperatures, but coconut oil is a winner in this regard. BONUS: you get the satisfaction of eating fried foods but getting good healthy benefits from it at the same time!
5. You'll get Pantene-Approved Commercial Hair
Pretty much all fats in general are good for your hair; egg yolk, peanut butter, lard. The protein in coconut oil provides healthy fats that will restore your hair's natural strength, and give it a nice shine as well. I tried a coconut oil bath on my hair once and it really did feel great after. I doused my hair in liquified oil, placed a shower cap on my head and left it in for 20 minutes. I hopped in the shower, washed my hair and it felt significantly softer and healthier. I would highly recommend trying it at least once. What's the harm?!
6. It's A Seasonal Sensation for Your Skin You can do the same on your skin. Your skin is the biggest organ on your body, so treat it like it's the most important! Using this on your skin will leave it feeling smooth and soft. You can use it in either it's solid or liquid state. If using it while solid don't worry, your skin is warm enough to eventually melt and absorb it. Most store-brand lotions have tons of additives and chemicals you can't even pronounce. When you use coconut oil, you know exactly what you're using, no guessing games here!
7. Oil Pulling is the New Dental Care
I've been oil pulling for about a year now, which is even hard for me to believe! When I first tried it, I never would've thought I'd continue this long. Oil pulling is somewhat of a trend. You take a tablespoon of oil into your mouth, swish it around for 20 minutes, and then spit the oil out. You can do this with a variety of oil; sunflower, olive, peanut, sesame, but I've found that the most palatable has been coconut oil. Most oils have a strong taste, but coconut oil is pretty neutral and easy to handle. The point of oil pulling is to extract the harmful bacteria in your mouth that can cause gingivitis and bad breath. Your teeth build a "biofilm" over time which is basically just a film of bacteria on your teeth. When you pull coconut oil, the bacteria sticks to the oil and then is discarded when you spit it out. This is why it's important NOT to swallow the oil you're pulling! Pulling also made my teeth noticeably whiter, and gave me fresh feeling breath first thing in the morning. I found that this is the cheapest way to whiten your teeth to date; and it has so many other great benefits.
So there they are, the 7 wonders of coconut oil. I love trying new things and this oil pulling definitely got me hooked. I started using it only for oil pulling, but now I use it in recipes, and for my hair and skin! Another great perk about having this oil around is that it has a long shelf life, lasting about 6 months. So if you buy a jar to try it out, it won't go rancid anytime soon. Try something new today, and let coconut oil get you there! Please share your experiences and thoughts on the message board. I always look forward to hearing from other's trials and experimentations!