By now, you have undoubtedly recognized that coconut oil has gained popularity over the past few years. Maybe you have researched this and use coconut oil on a regular basis so these facts will be nothing new to you. But if you are among the people who have yet to dig into the facts surrounding coconut oil, its many uses, and the health benefits, then you may find this information helpful and enlightening.
An important fact you need to know is that not all coconut oil is created equally. Choosing the right coconut oil DOES matter. Virgin coconut oil (non refined) is the way to go. The only two ways to produce virgin coconut oil is either by quick drying the fresh coconut meat and then pressing out the oil or by wet-milling. You can easily tell the taste difference in refined coconut oil and virgin coconut oil as the virgin coconut oil still has the smell and taste of coconuts while the refined version loses the coconut smell and taste due to being refined. You want to make sure you are purchasing coconut oil that is not solvent extracted from dried coconut meat known as copra. Those oils can be bleached, refined, deodorized, and possibly hydrogenated.
For decades, people have been told to avoid saturated fats due to protecting their cholesterol and heart health. People stopped using real butter and healthy fats, such as coconut oil. Consumers started gravitating towards polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soy, and margarine. Since these products tend to oxidize, manufacturers needed to find a way to prolong their shelf life. Enter the word "hydrogenation." I'm sure you are all familiar with that term by now. No one really understood the dangers of that at the time, but we now know that through the hydrogenation process, these oils have now become trans fatty acids. Consuming trans fatty acids have now been proven to be harmful to our bodies and have been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Some countries have even banned trans fatty acids in their food.
Saturated fats, on the other hand, have a very stable shelf life and require no processing as they do not go rancid for a couple of years. That explains their long history of usage among many cultures. Some of the ways saturated fats help our bodies is that they provide nutrients to our cells and our bones, they protect our liver, strengthen our immune system and our heart, and aids in healthy digestion. There are many studies suggesting coconut oil is beneficial for people with diabetes, digestive issues, and thyroid problems. Some current research is also showing positive results that coconut oil can help treat Candida due to the fact that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil have shown to kill the Candida yeast and Candida albicans. The saturated fat in coconut oil has also shown to nourish our brain with the energy that comes from ketones. This can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer's or other neurological diseases. Our brain makes up 25% of the cholesterol in our bodies and we need that cholesterol to allow the brain to perform to the best of its ability. So by eliminating certain healthy saturated fats in our diet, we are robbing our brain of the nutrition it requires. Keep in mind though, there are healthy ways to obtain good cholesterol and not so healthy ways. So don't run out to the nearest fast food restaurant. :) If you are struggling with a cholesterol problem, I would encourage you to try adding a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil into your daily routine and see how to affects your cholesterol levels. When most people hear the word "saturated fats", that almost always produces a negative reaction. Saturated fats have been associated with many aspects of heart disease. But it is now starting to be recognized that the polyunsaturated fats are mostly to blame as the evidence points to the polyunsaturated fats the main culprit for clogged arteries. Saturated fats are essential to our health as they make up 50% of our cell membranes. We need to get over the fear of what we have been programmed to believe and take control of our health. We can do this by consuming organic and nourishing foods and accept the fact that there really are "healthy fats" that we need in order to live a healthy life.
In tropical areas, coconut oil has been known for years to heal and nourish skin. Again, because it does not oxidize, we don't have to worry about the free radical damage that occurs with other skin care products made with polyunsaturated oils. Many people have had great success incorporating coconut oil in their acne healing treatments, using it for sun protection, and making their own deodorant. By massaging coconut oil into your scalp, hair, and on your skin, you can provide great nourishment to these areas.
Coconut oil is great for cooking and baking. Being made up of mostly saturated fats, coconut oil can withstand high heat temperatures allowing the beneficial fats to maintain their integrity. It brings a nice flavor to your cooking bur don't worry, it doesn't make everything taste like coconut. As far as baking goes, coconut oil makes a great replacement for butters and other oils. You can swap them out for an equal amount of coconut oil. For example, if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, use 1/2 cup of coconut oil. If your coconut oil needs to be melted for you recipe, make sure your other ingredients such as eggs and other liquid ingredients are room temperature. If you mix cold ingredients with the melted coconut oil, it will cause the coconut oil to start clumping up. However, if your coconut oil needs to be in a solid form, having things at room temperature is no longer an issue. Coconut cream concentrate (coconut butter), is also great for baking.
One of the companies I trust when it comes to coconut oil is Tropical Traditions. Their products are high in quality and integrity. They are a great source for coconut oil and skin care products along with many other great things. They have a book called Virgin Coconut Oil which I highly recommend you read if you are interested in learning more about their story as well as a wealth of information regarding coconut oil. They sell different types and grades of coconut oil. This page will give you a better understanding of the difference.