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After a recent trip to St Lucia, I was inspired to write about the effects of the coconut and coconut oil. St. Lucia is a volcanic island and very mountainous. Their major cultivated crop are bananas and coconuts. I had the opportunity to take a tour through the north end of the island and sample a coconut, cut right off the tree on the side of a busy road. I drank the coconut water, which is much better than what is sold in the grocery stores, and tasted the jelly inside, which is edible. The jelly contains healthy fats and protein. The farmer told me that in St Lucia, they use every part of the coconut. They make oils for the skin, oil to cook with, soap, and process the meat, the white part, of the coconut to eat. There has been much controversy about the use of coconut oils, here is what I found.
Coconuts are one of the oldest food plants. It is thought to have originated in Malayan archipelago, and was soon grown throughout the tropics. Early scriptures of Hinduism, refers to the coconut as nourishment for the body. In Ayurveda medicine, coconut oil infused with herbs has been used medicinally for almost 4,000 years to treat skin diseases caused by parasites.
Coconut oil has a unique combination of fatty acids. We now know that this medium chain fatty acid contains immune-boosting healing powers and it has positive effects on our health. In the past years, coconut oil was mistakenly accused of contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease. It has been implicated in raising cholesterol levels and saturated fats, but known today to be considered a rich source of saturated fats. Actually 90% fatty acids. It does not contain the regular saturated fat that is found in cheese and animal fat. It metabolizes fats differently. It is processed through the liver and uses the fat as a quick source of energy and or Ketone bodies, which have a therapeutic effect on the brain. It may help with certain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, and Epilepsy, because it supplies energy to the brain.
In the South Pacific they consider coconut as an exotic food. Here they eat 60% of their calories from coconuts and coconut oils, with a very low evidence of heart disease. Coconut oil also suppresses your hunger pains. In studies, people who use coconut oil ate fewer calories. It can also improve blood cholesterol by reducing triglycerides and reduce total cholesterol numbers.
The Kitavans, a population on the island of Kitava in Papua New Guinea, claim that it also prevents obesity. Considering that obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world, this MCT (medium chain triglycerides) have been shown to increase energy which leads to weight loss over time. It has a thermogenic effect, which helps boost metabolism, twice that of the long chain fatty acid diet.
Researchers believe that this medium chain fat is not stored and provides an increased diet increases thermogenesis by 50%. (Murray 2005)
Coconut oil contains Lauric Acid, medium chain saturated fat that contains health promoting fat that is compared to human breast milk. Lauric Acid is converted into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral, and an antibacterial, that destroys bacteria, viruses, fungus, and prevent infections.
Coconut oil is great for your hair, and skin. It protects it against damage and helps moisturize the skin. It can also be used as a sun screen. It blocks about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
You can use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil as a mouthwash, in a process called “oil pulling”. This is an ancient Ayurveda dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for around 20 minutes then spit it out. Doing this draws out toxins in your body and helps to improve oral health: gingivitis, bad breath and plaque. (medicaldaily.com)
So as you can see from my research, coconut oil has amazing benefits in promoting optimal health and contributing to longevity. The medium chain triglycerides provide numerous health benefits because of the way it metabolizes fat. So don’t be afraid to start using it as a supplement, cooking, and on your skin and hair. Coconut oil is important to our health.
“…make a memory every day, and don’t apologize for who you are”
Murray, Michael, N.D., & Pizzorno, Lara, M.A., L.M.T., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods (2005): Atria
authoritynutrition.com Authority Nutrition (2012-2015)
WebMD.com, Coconut Oil