Going Coconuts

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Coconut oil should be classified as a “superfood!” It has a multitude of health benefits which promote skin and hair care, improves digestion, and immunizes against infections and diseases. Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health and well being, including fat loss, better brain function and various other amazing benefits.

The best news is that coconut oil is a great massage oil that moisturizes all types of skin, and it’s a safe solution for preventing dry and flaking skin. It also delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin. So why exactly is coconut oil good for you? Here’s why:

1. Coconut oil contains fatty acids with medicinal benefits: Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat and contains medium chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length, which are metabolized differently in the body.

They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy or turned into ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

2. Coconut oil can help you burn fat. The MCTs in coconut oil give the body an extended energy boost and also forms keytone bodies which have the added benefit of reduced hunger and cravings. Adding a couple of servings of coconut oil can help you feel fuller and help curb between meal snacking. Coconut oil enhances the body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients so you can eat less without feeling weak or tired all the time.  Also, because it is a natural mood elevator, daily intake of coconut oil can help you to feel less stressed and more motivated to partake in healthy cardiovascular activities which help you to burn off persistent fat stores even faster. Regular consumption of coconut oil has the power to ramp up your fat-burning potential – especially for losing stubborn belly fat – improving digestion, regulating appetite, and just making you feel good!

3. Coconut oil can help protect against hair damage and moisturize skin. Studies on individuals with dry skin have shown that coconut oil is rich in fatty acids and improves the moisture and lipid content of the skin, scalp and hair. A study in 2005 from the Journal of Cosmetic Science noted that coconut oil penetrated the hair follicles better than the most common ingredient in hair conditioners, mineral oil. Coconut oil has also been used as a natural remedy to combat frizz; get rid of dandruff; remove and prevent lice; and promote hair growth. The oil can improve scalp health, therefore improving the conditions for growing thicker, fuller hair. Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

4. Coconut oil strengthens the immune system. Coconut oil contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which research has supported it as an effective way to deal with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases like herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. Coconut oil helps in fighting harmful bacteria like listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Other benefits from coconut oil may not be as visible, but they include:

Liver health. The presence of MCTs and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases because those substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, reducing the work load of the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.
Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.
Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.
Bones: Coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the development of bones.
Dental care: Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in developing strong teeth. It also stops tooth decay. Recent research suggests that coconut oil is beneficial in reducing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.
Stress relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying it to the head, followed by a gentle massage, helps to eliminate mental fatigue.

There are various grades of coconut oil: pure, refined, and virgin. For cooking, refined is the way to go. For weight loss, health purposes, massaging, hair and other medicinal uses, refined or virgin is the best. Unlike a lot of other oils, coconut oil has a high melting point – about 76-78 Fahrenheit. Therefore it is solid at room temperature and melts only when the temperature rises considerably. It’s often in this form, so you shouldn’t put it in the fridge. You can just melt the oil by keeping the bottle in the sun, or soaking it in warm water, if it becomes solid. You can find coconut oil in most supermarkets, or specialty health stores.