What is the one thing you’d take with you if you were stranded on an island? For me, it would be a gallon (or more!) of organic, virgin coconut oil.
In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is called ‘kalpa vriksha’ meaning ‘the tree that supplies all that is needed to survive’.
Ancient wisdom has been passed down generations, and modern science is finally waking up to the plethora of health-inducing benefits this humble multi-purpose oil provides.
In many cultures across the globe, coconuts feature as a dietary staple and it is not surprising that these populations tend to have the healthiest people in the world.
Take the Tokelauans of the South Pacific as an example. 60% of their daily calorie intake comes from coconuts, and given their diet is rich in coconut oil, they happen to be the world’s biggest consumers of saturated fats. The Tokelauans have a highly enviable track record when it comes to health, and heart disease in this region is unheard of.
Most Pacific Island cultures extend the culinary use of coconut oil to their daily beauty regimes, and are famous for their gorgeous, ageless complexions.
The high demand for natural human-hair wigs has made the southern parts of India a capital for hair export. The women of this region have long been known for their long, lustrously thick manes, and it is common knowledge that they diligently use natural coconut oil for hair-care.
Today’s post is an attempt at summarizing the endless list of health and beauty benefits that can be derived from organic, virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is the healthiest substance in the world! But you don’t have to go by me, read up on all the health-enhancing goodness that can be found in this miraculous oil.
Coconut oil is loaded with Medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid: this makes up for 50% of the total fatty acid content of coconut oil, and it is this key ingredient that makes this oil so amazing.
As precious as a mother’s love: Breast-feeding is the best gift a mother can give to her child to boost immunity, and this is because mother’s milk is very rich in lauric acid. After mother’s milk, coconut oil is the most concentrated dietary source of lauric acid.
Coconut oil is a powerful anti-microbial: Lauric acid is a powerful anti-microbial. It kills off nasty viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi by dissolving their cellular walls.
Improves immunity and digestive health: A daily dose of coconut oil can increase immunity, improve digestive health, and even help to heal ulcers of the stomach lining.
Coconut oil aids in better absorption of nutrients: When ingested, coconut oil helps the digestive tract to better absorb fat-soluable vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Thyroid health and blood-sugar: Medium chain triglicerides stabilize thyroid and blood-sugar by assisting in the conversion of cholesterol into pregnenolone, an essential synthesis of human hormones required for healthy thyroid function. A daily serving of coconut oil can also help the body to use insulin more efficiently and stabilize blood-sugar levels.
Coconut oil is essential brain fuel: Medium chain triglicerides are metabolized by the liver to produce ketones. Ketones are essential brain fuel, and studies have shown ketones have a positive effect on several brain disorders including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
Coconut oil for a healthy heart: Regular consumption of coconut oil promotes heart health contrary to the myth that saturated fats are bad for the ticker. Coconut oil eliminates bad LDL by increasing good HDL. It does this by helping the body to convert cholesterol in the blood stream into a usable form, thus reducing plaque build-up in arteries. Medium chain triglicerides in coconut oil may also work to reduce triglycerides, improve blood coagulation, and perform antioxidant functions in the blood stream, further diminishing the risk of heart disease.
I use coconut oil a lot on my face, on my skin and in my cooking. And I just started “oil pulling,” which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white. It’s supposed to clear up your skin, as well. – Gwyneth Paltrow, Academy Award winning Actress.
Taking cue from the gorgeous actress, I’ve been putting my jar of coconut oil to various uses in the bathroom. I use it as a face and body moisturizer, a makeup remover, on my hair, and even for oil-pulling. Read on for details.
Coconut oil as a moisturizer: Given coconut oil is loading with natural goodness and skin-enhancing Vitamin E, it makes sense to use it all over the body. Use high-quality organic virgin coconut oil to reap maximum benefits. I use coconut oil on my skin right after a steamy shower when the skin pores are open to receiving all that goodness. The oil is quick-absorbing, and leaves my skin looking and feeling dewy fresh and hydrated.
Makeup Remover: I regularly use virgin coconut oil to remove all traces of makeup at the end of the day. It does a great job, and leaves my skin moisturized rather than synthetically dry. After removal, simply wash the face with warm water.
Coconut oil in a hydrating face mask: Try my DIY Edible Chocolate Mask using virgin coconut oil.
Beauty from inside out: Enhance outer beauty by keeping your insides happy. For skin health, nutritionist Rashi Chowdhury recommends having a spoonful of coconut oil as a wake-up meal every morning.
Anti-aging properties: Rich in anti-oxidants, coconut oil prevents premature aging.
Stretch marks: Coconut oil is highly hydrating, and can help combat stretch marks.
Massage oil: Heat a few spoonful’s of coconut oil, add a few drops of your desired essential oil (I love lavender for its sleep-inducing properties, or tea tree oil for rejuvenation), and use as a massage oil for relaxation and skin enhancement.
Clean and clear skin: Coconut oil has antiseptic properties that help keep the skin free of infection.
Natural sunscreen: Coconut oil has a natural sunscreen of SPF 4, and blocks out 20% of the sun’s harmful rays.
Natural shaving cream: Save money and get sexy, well-moisturized legs by swapping your regular shaving cream with coconut oil.
Manicure & pedicure: Use coconut oil to soften hands and feet. Massage into cuticles, onto rough skin and even cracked heels.
Just as it does for skin, coconut oil can also protects hair from sun damage and dehydration.
Hair mask: take advantage of the deep conditioning properties of coconut oil. Indian women are known for their lustrously thick locks, and a traditional Indian beauty regime involves liberally applying warm coconut oil to the scalp and hair, and letting it seep in for a few hours before washing. You can add this to your nighttime regime, and sleep with the oil on your tresses (just ensure you protect your pillow with a towel).
Promotes hair growth: Regular head massages with warm coconut oil is believed to aid hair growth.
On the beach: Massage organic virgin coconut oil into scalp and work through the hair before visiting the beach or swimming pool to shield skin and hair from harmful UV radiation and chemicals, and to seal in moisture.
Eliminate dandruff: When used regularly, coconut oil can also work to reduce or eliminate dandruff and other scalp irritations given its anti-fungal properties. Remember, with coconut oil a little bit goes a long way. Use about a tablespoon at a time until you get a feel for exactly how much you will need to moisturize your scalp and hair.
Base for natural hair coloring: Coconut oil makes an excellent medium for mixing with your all-natural hair coloring (try henna for example). Because coconut oil penetrates hair more deeply and faster than many other natural oils, it can help your color to be more vibrant and keep it from fading too quickly.
I first read about oil-pulling on Pinterest, and was intrigued by its long list of promises. Being an ardent fan of all things holistic and natural, I decided to give it a try and haven’t looked back since.
How do you do oil-pulling?
- Choose a natural oil of your choice. Coconut oil is the most popular given its anti-bacterial properties, and also has a better aftertaste as compared to olive oil or sunflower oil.
- First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach before brushing, take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
- Swish it around the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes (to save time, I multi-task! I’m swishing while I shower, slap on sunscreen, etc.). The oil ‘pulls’ all the nasty toxins in the mouth and literally doubles up in size.
- Spit it all out (you don’t want to ingest any of this yucky muck!). Best to spit it down the loo or in the trash, as chances are you’ll clog up the sink.
- Rinse mouth with warm water, and brush as usual (I know of some people who gave up brushing altogether after oil-pulling, but I’m still addicted to the minty freshness of regular toothpaste).
Benefits of oil-pulling:
- Stronger teeth, gums and jaw (the jaw definitely gets a workout with all that swishing!)
- Whitening of teeth (I have been oil-pulling for 3 months now, and can definitely see a marked difference)
- Prevents cavities and gingivitis
- Prevents bad breath
- Reduces migraines and headaches
- Reduction of inflammation of arthritis
- Normal kidney function support
- Potential improved vision
- Relief from sinus congestion
- Increase in energy
- Clear skin
- Regulated menstrual cycles
- Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms
- Reduced hangover symptoms
- Helps with better sleep
Coconut oil is natural and full of goodness. It is a better alternative for the soft, delicate skin of newborns and young children.
Baby massage oil: When my daughter was a newborn, my pediatrician recommended swapping the regular Johnson Baby Oil with a natural oil like sweet almond oil or virgin coconut oil. Sweet almond oil was not as easily available as virgin coconut oil, and I still use the later on my daughter today as an after-bath body massage.
Diaper rash cream: Coconut oil can be used as a natural barrier between nappy changes to keep delicate baby bottoms soft and supple, and prevent rashes.
Nipple cream: Breast-feeding can dry and chaff the nipples, and using commercial remedies might be harmful to suckling babies. Coconut oil is the perfect solution.
Coconut oil works wonders on keratosis.
How to banish keratosis (unsightly red spots on the upper arms) with coconut oil:
- Have a hot, steamy shower.
- Exfoliate the upper arms with a scrubber.
- While the skin is still damp and warm, liberally apply virgin coconut oil.
- Repeat for a week or so to see dramatically improved skin.
Coconut oil is one of mother nature’s best beauty treatments. Use coconut oil to make your own natural, homemade beauty products for the body and hair with the peace of mind of knowing what went into the making. Check Tezzy’s Pinterest board ‘Beauty & the Spa’ for many interesting recipes from around the web, including coconut oil deodorant, toothpaste, face masks, moisturizers, the list goes on.
Coconut oil is one of the best fat burning foods because it is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, stimulates the metabolism, is easy to digest, and is full of antioxidants.
A tablespoon or two per day can greatly help with the battle of the bulge, but remember not to overdo it! One tablespoon of coconut oil has 117 calories.
Here is how coconut oil can help with weight loss:
Coconut oil boosts energy levels: Coconut oil is made of the medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid, and this essential fatty acid metabolizes very differently when compared to other saturated fats found in most meat and dairy products. The human body does not store digested medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid as fat, but instead transports them directly to the liver where it is quickly converted into energy. Consuming about 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in the morning can boost energy levels by up to 5%!
Decreases hunger pangs: The liver not only converts the medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid in coconut oil to energy, but also to ketones that reduce hunger cravings significantly.
Burns fat faster: Coconut oil aids digestion, as well as the absorption of nutrients so you can eat less without feeling tired or weak all the time.
Natural mood elevator: Coconut oil keeps the heart happy, and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. This will help keep you motivated, especially when it comes to cardio classes at the gym!
Hormonal balance: The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil help the body convert cholesterol in the blood stream into the sterone ‘pregnenolone’ which is an essential element for the body’s production of hormones. The production of healthy hormones improves overall digestion, helps reduce stress and anxiety, increases energy, and helps to burn away stubborn fat stores around the waist, buttocks, and thighs.
Coconut oil is an ideal oil for cooking.
Let’s compare coconut oil with some common household cooking oils:
- Canola Oil: this is not a naturally occurring oil, but rather a modified version of rapeseed oil. The rape plant (from the mustard family) contains cyanide-containing compounds, and wild animals and even insects avoid it in nature. The process of refining the oil to canola oil involves exposing rapeseed oil to high heat, which greatly reduces the omega 3 content.
- Cottonseed Oil: Thousands of commercially produced food contains cottonseed oil. This oil is derived from an industrial plant saturated with pesticides.
- Safflower Oil: Although this oil may aid in dropping cholesterol levels, it is very high in omega-6 which recent research has linked to cardiovascular disease and death.
- Soybean Oil: This controversial oil has been linked to hormonal disruption and thyroid issues.
Why swap your regular cooking oil for coconut oil?
- We’ve already gone through its amazing list of health-enhancing benefits. Why not add it to the food you serve your family?
- Despite being a saturated fat, coconut oil is heart friendly and can even help with weight loss.
- Unlike many other oils such as olive oil which cannot withstand high heat along with light and oxygen, coconut oil can withstand high temperatures without loosing any of its health-giving properties.
- Being a saturated oil, coconut oil does not need any special form of storage or refrigeration, and has a long shelf-life.
- Coconut oil has a delicious taste and aroma of its own.
- It can be used in practically anything from stir-fries and baking to smoothies and even deep-frying.
- It can be used to replace butter on toast.
WARNING: Not ALL Coconut Oil
is Created Equal!
To reap all the benefits listed above, ensure you use the finest quality organic virgin coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has been stripped of most of its health-enhancing properties.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is:
- 100% raw, organic and virgin!
- Unrefined & Cold Pressed
- Non GM
- No Bleaching
- No Preservatives
- Not Pasteurized
- Non Hydrogenated
- Originates from the Philippines, the world’s largest producer of coconuts.
The Process of Creating Organic Virgin Coconut Oil:
Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is mechanically pressed.
- Good matured fresh whole coconuts are shelled and pared to remove the outer shell and brown skin.
- The white meat is then milled to fine granules and dried.
- After drying, the white meat is passed through a customized cold press expeller.
- The oil is collected in a receiving pan and pumped through a centrifuge to remove moisture.
- The oil is passed through a filter press which results in a clear-as-water coconut oil.
- The oil is collected in a tank and then passed through a polishing filter, then packed & sealed into drums.
- Temperature during the entire process is kept constant at around 40 degrees centigrade.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Virgin Coconut Oil retails at AED 135 for a 300 gram jar, and can be bought at all Neal’s Yard Remedies stores nationwide.
I have two jars of organic virgin coconut oil at all times; one in my bathroom and the other in the kitchen. Perhaps you’d like to give it a go too?