Coconut oil was overly maligned in the 1980s because it was reportedly harmful to health. It's bounced back from the bad publicity and is now recognized as one of nature’s beneficial health foods. Containing a high level of saturated fats, coconut oil was believed to raise a person’s blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the most dreaded diseases.
All that's now history, as even the renowned Dr. Oz has endorsed this tropical oil as an extremely effective adjunct in weight loss, treatment for skin diseases and ulcers of the digestive tract (Editor's Note: Dr. Oz is in no way affiliated with eVitamins. He doesn't endorse any specific brand or product.). Although the coconut tree is a fairly common sight along the beach coasts and in tropical islands, many people still don’t know how coconut oil is made or where exactly it comes from.
Coconut oil is an extract from the dried meat of mature coconuts. In nearly all Asian countries, coconuts have been an essential source of food and medicine for centuries. The first known documentation of it being used medicinally was in India, a cradle of Eastern medicine. It has since supplied the fat requirement in many Asian diets, and has been a favored cooking ingredient for its heat-stable property - which makes it last longer than other oils and less prone to rancidity.
The perceived detrimental component of coconut oil is its saturated fat content. Since it's composed of about 90 percent saturated fats, the Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies warned against consuming excessive amounts of coconut oil. Later studies would prove that these fears were unfounded. The saturated fats in this tropical nutrient come from lauric acid, known to raise HDL, or good cholesterol, rather than LDL levels. In addition, these saturated fats were composed of medium chain triglycerides, which may not be as deadly as the longer chain triglycerides.
Although the meat and juice of coconuts are nutritional, it's the oil that brings the most benefits. Traditional medicinal practices use coconut oil to treat acute conditions like respiratory illnesses, viral infections and diarrhea, as well as diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, kidney stones and diabetes. In modern medicine, coconut oil is best known for its weight loss effect and as treatment for skin conditions and ulcers.
Coconut Oil and Weight Loss
Coconus oil is richer in medium chain triglycerides, a type of fatty acid and fat burner, than any other plant food. They increase the body’s metabolism by encouraging thermogenesis and producing energy, which can result in weight loss. MCTs are very absorbable and are carried directly to the liver, which quickens the fat burning process. Coconut oil also relieves constipation and aids in the body’s waste excretion.
Coconut Oil and Your Skin
Coconut oil is an active ingredient in many skin lotions and moisturizers. Its tiny molecular structure allows it to penetrate the skin easily. Unlike other vegetable oils which have high water content, coconut oil is pure, giving it a near-solid quality. Hence, when it enters the skin through the pores, it stays there and acts as a lubricant, keeping your skin soft and glowing. Coconut oil also shields the skin from sun damage and free radicals, lowering the risk of skin cancer and delaying the skin aging process.
Aside from its cosmetic benefits, coconut oil promotes wound healing and aids in the treatment of scabies, lice, psoriasis and other skin ailments.
Coconut Oil and Ulcers
Ulcers in the mouth and along the digestive tract and stomach are caused by certain bacteria, like H. pylori, herpes and streptococcus. They're painful sores that make eating less pleasurable and may cause gastric bleeding. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are bactericidal and have the ability to kill these ulcer-causing bacteria.
Components of Coconut Oil
Saturated Fats -- Mostly the MCTs that raise only the HDL cholesterol; the major compound of the saturated fats is the lauric acid, which makes up more than 40 percent of the total fat content
Monounsaturated Fats – Oleic acid
Polyunsaturated Fats – Linoleic acid
Vitamin E and K, iron
What To Look For When Buying Coconut Oil
Good quality coconut oil has a snowy white appearance when in solid form and is clear in liquid form. A grayish or yellowish color signifies inferior grade coconut oil and may be a sign of contamination.
It must have a natural coconut flavor and smell. The absence of these qualities means it's not pure coconut oil. Too strong of an aroma may indicate poor quality coconut oil which is enhanced by artificial odor and taste.
A water-clear coconut oil indicates purity. Tinge of colors may mean the oil came from old or rotten coconuts. Colored coconut oil may contain molds.
The next time you go to the grocery store or stock up on beauty supplies, you’ll be better informed on what product to put in your cart. Look to the tropics and pick up that bottle or can of coconut oil.