The merits of coconut oil despite its bad rep.
Although coconut drinks are not my favourite, many of my family and friends love to sip them especially on a hot, humid day and we have many of such days here. There is something addictive about ordering a coconut drink; one such bonus could be coconut meat. It is always a joy to be able to personally partake in your food – in this case, by methodically scraping off the meat into our mouths while slurping the water down. Though this has been one popular drink and pastime, many have taken to consuming this tropical fruit in other ways. Coconut oil for example has somewhat been invading the supermarket shelves and organic shops, claiming many benefits for health as well as for the body. Although it might be known for its unhealthy artery-clogging reputation in the past, coconut oil is being considered with renewed interest today.
Contains saturated fat
Two types of fats exist; one is healthy fats, which we call unsaturated fats that are critical in raising good cholesterol levels in our body. Foods containing unsaturated fats come from fish oils and fats from nuts and seeds, as well as vegetable oils like olive, corn, and soybean oils. Saturated fats mainly come from animal fats, and consumption of a lot of these fats could potentially raise bad cholesterol levels; thereby increasing risks of cardiovascular diseases. Trans fat are the worst kind; they decrease good cholesterol while upping your bad cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is not completely innocent here; it contains saturated fats albeit it is much better than butter, which is made from animal fats as well as trans fat.
Choose extra virgin coconut oil
Extra virgin coconut oil does not go through any chemical or refinery process such as hydrogenation – adding hydrogen to harden the liquid fat – thus; it’s in its purest form. Hydrogenated oils like trans fat work to increase the bad cholesterol in our body. You wouldn’t want such unnatural and unhealthy substance inside you. Hence, always consider extra virgin coconut oil; it is the healthier choice.
Comprises short & medium-chain fatty acids
The saturated fats in coconut oil are found to contain medium-chain fatty acids, which are healthy saturated fats as compared to trans fat. These fatty acids, instead of being stored as fat in the body, are metabolised and turned into energy for the effective functioning of the body. Hence, though coconut oil contains saturated fat; but the compound within it helps the body to function rather than it being stored and; thereby contribute to problems like heart diseases, stroke, or other cardiovascular problems.
Contains lauric acid
A compound within coconut oil, lauric acid is a saturated fat that is also found in many vegetable fats such as palm kernel oil. WebMD says that lauric acid is widely used medicinally for the treatment of many viral infections, common colds and cold sores, as well as bronchitis and yeast infections. Though a saturated fat, lauric acid is found to have the ability to raise the levels of good cholesterol while decreasing bad cholesterol in the body. Because of the compound, coconut oil is considered by some to be a safer fat than other unhealthy fats like trans fat for example.
Stable in high cooking temperatures
Unlike some plant oils, coconut oil has a high smoking temperature, meaning the oil is fairly stable and lesser susceptible to heat; thus enabling you to use it for many food preparations such as baking for example. It is also an alternative food choice for vegans, who tend to avoid animal fats.
Light, coconut-y taste
It contains a very light hint of sweetness and coconut. It’s refreshingly tasty and could be used in many food recipes from simple to elaborate dishes. You can consider adding a teaspoon of coconut oil into your coffee and tea, or spreading some on your bread or toast instead of the usual jam or butter.
Use the oil for body massage
Coconut oil also makes for wonderful therapy for the skin especially if you have dry skin. When slathered onto your skin, coconut oil seeps and penetrates into your epidermis and hydrates it instantly. This is why, it is a popular choice as a massage oil; easy enough to do it at home.
Condition your hair and spilt ends
Another DIY treatment you can do at home; pour a 50-cent coin drop into your palm and then spread it over your hair, from scalp to roots. Coconut oil in some studies has shown to be good for rejuvenating and strengthening hair; thereby reducing hair loss. Thus, it is a popular ingredient in many hair products like tonics or shampoos. For a deep conditioning of your crowning glory, comb through the oil-infused hair and then wrap a towel around your head and wait 20-30 minutes for it to do its work. Then, shampoo it off.
Oil cleansing method
Supporters of coconut oil have reported good reviews in using coconut oil to cleanse their face. Depending on your face type, coconut oil is generally better suited for dryer skin types. Pour a little on a cotton ball or pad then gently wipe it across your face. Many have claimed that coconut oil works on mascara removal as well. Once you have wiped your whole face with it, wash your face with your usual cleanser.
Coconut oil has surfaced quite a bit in recent years. Though, we may know that coconut oil contains saturated fat, it also contains a number of compounds that work to reverse the unhealthy benefits from consuming saturated fat; thus making this a newly considered food choice in our diet. Even so, we should also be careful not to increase our intake unnecessarily but to consider whole foods in our balanced diet as a priority instead. Coconut oil in skincare similarly must be practised with care, particularly if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin. As with all skincare products, a patch test might be needed and a 2-week or more trial carried out to affirm coconut oil’s benefits and long-term usage for your skin.