Coconut oil is a natural source of vitamins and minerals for your body. The benefits of coconut oil can be gained not only by eating the oil, but also by using it directly on your hair and skin.
Medicinal Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been used as a traditional remedy for constipation, stomach upsets, kidney stones, and nausea for many hundreds of years by people in the tropics. In recent years, scientists have been investigating some of the medicinal claims that have been made about coconut oil, and their studies have produced some very promising findings.
The high levels of lauric acid found in coconut oil are thought to be responsible for many of its health-enhancing properties. Lauric acid is both an anti-bacterial and an anti-viral substance. During the swine flu epidemic of 2009, the esteemed immunologist Brian Young, who heads the immunology department at Bournemouth University, recommended giving coconut oil to children as a way to boost their natural immunity to the H1N1 flu virus. He intends to carry out further research into the use of coconut oil as an alternative to the commercial anti-flu drug Tamiflu.
Meanwhile, researchers working under Conrado S. Dayrit, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology at the University of the Philippines, are currently studying the possible benefits of coconut oil for people who are carriers of HIV. Professor Dayrit believes that the lauric acid in coconut oil could have a similar effect to antiretroviral drugs in reducing the activity of HIV in the body. If future studies verify the preliminary findings of their research, then coconut oil could be used as a natural way of slowing the development of AIDS in HIV positive people.
Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which makes many health-conscious people wary of eating it. However, fat is actually an essential part of a healthy diet. Having a high fat intake helps with the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fatty food also keeps you feeling satisfied so that you don’t end up reaching for sugary snacks between meals. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises swapping animal fats, such as those found in cheese, butter, fatty meat, and lard, for healthier plant fats such as coconut oil. Plant-based fats do not clog the arteries or raise cholesterol, both of which are harmful side effects of animal fats. In fact, the monounsaturated fats found in coconut oil have been shown to reduce the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E, which reduces the risk of heart disease, and vitamin K, which is necessary to allow the blood to clot properly. Vitamin K also helps to keep your bones healthy by facilitating the absorption of calcium. Keeping up the amount of calcium in the blood is particularly important for older women, who are at risk of the bone disease osteoporosis.
Coconut oil tastes great in Indian food. Indeed, people on the Indian sub-continent have been using coconut oil for years to cook and season their food, reaping coconut oil’s cholesterol-lowering benefits in the process. As a delicious healthy snack, shallow fry banana pieces in coconut oil to create crunchy banana chips, or drizzle a little coconut oil onto fresh fruit salad for a rich combination of flavors.
Skincare Benefits of Coconut Oil
Massaging coconut oil into the skin rehydrates dry or dull-looking skin, which helps it to regain its natural healthy glow. People in the tropics have used coconut oil for centuries as a regular beauty practice and as a treatment for skin conditions such as eczema. In recent years, there has been a worldwide explosion in the popularity of coconut-based skincare products, with manufacturers producing a wide range of moisturizers, body butters, and face masks containing coconut oil, flesh, or milk. When selecting a skincare product, check that coconut oil features as one of the main ingredients to make sure that you are getting the maximum possible benefits. Alternatively, you could adopt a DIY approach by buying virgin coconut oil and applying it directly to your skin. The moisture, vitamin E, and fatty acids that coconut oil delivers to your skin help to reduce wrinkling and repair damage caused by the sun, as well as helping the skin to maintain its natural youthful elasticity and healthy glow.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Hair
If you want shiny, glossy, well-hydrated hair, you might be well-advised to pass over the shelves full of expensive shampoos and conditioners at the store and instead purchase some raw coconut oil. Most commercial hair products contain sodium laureth sulfate, a harsh chemical which pulls moisture from your hair, leaving it dry and lifeless. You can help your hair to recover from this chemical attack by treating it with coconut oil. Simply apply the oil to your hair and scalp after your bath or shower and leave it to soak in overnight. The high fat content of coconut oil traps water inside the hair, keeping it soft, shiny, and resistant to breaking. Coconut oil is also a well-known natural remedy for dandruff due to its moisturizing effect on the scalp.
Buying Coconut Oil
When buying coconut oil, it is important to know exactly what purpose you intend to use it for. If you plan to use the oil for cooking and you don’t like the taste of coconut, then you should buy refined coconut oil. However, if you plan to eat the oil raw or take it as a medicine, then unrefined virgin coconut oil will give you the most health benefits. You can use either type of oil on your hair or skin.
You should bear in mind that the shelf life of coconut oil is shorter than that of most other oils, so only buy as much oil as you need and re-order when your supply starts running low. By always using fresh coconut oil, you can be sure that you are getting all of the natural health benefits of the oil, however you choose to use it.
Guest post contributed by Laura for Glebe Dental Group.