The coconut palm is truly an amazing tree. In many parts of the world it is known as the "tree of life" or "the tree that provides all the necessities of life". It is a source of food and drink to nourish the body, medicine to maintain and restore health, and material to build shelter, clothing and tools. It grows abundantly in the tropics and the coconut is its prized possession. Coconuts, in its natural state, are much larger than how we see in it the supermarket. They are in fact, encapsulated in a thick smooth green husk which, when dehusked, reveals the hard brown 'seed' we recognise.
Coconuts can produce a variety of edible products, such as coconut meat, water, milk, cream and oil as well as sugar, vinegar and wine. Coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat or flesh, which is the inner soft white portion. However, there are several ways in which the oil is extracted which also defines the quality of the oil. The majority of the coconut oils on the market, that are mass produced, are made from the dried white flesh known as copra, which is reconstituted with water and heated to separate the oil from the rest of the coconut. This oil is then refined, bleached, and deodorised, yielding a poor quality oil with less nutritional value. So when choosing to buy coconut oil look for the unrefined, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil. This type is produced from fresh coconuts where the coconut meat is milled and passed through a cold press expeller. Here, the oil is literally squeezed out, passed through a filter to remove any sediments and you are left with a clear, fragrant oil which hardens when cooled.
Coconut oil has taken the spotlight in recent times for its numerous health benefits. This may come as a surprise to some of you since coconut oil is 92.1% saturated fat. In the past, it was heavily scrutinised on the assumption that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol, in turn, causing heart disease. What is not known is that there are different types of saturated fat just like there are different types of polyunsaturated fat. The type of saturated fat in coconut oil does not raise blood cholesterol. The reason for this is because it is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which make it different from other oils giving it its remarkable nutritional and medicinal properties. In fact, the unique combination of the MCFAs in coconut oil allows it to be easily digested and provides quick nutrition for the body without burdening the digestive tract. The ease of its digestion means it also improves the absorption of other nutrients. So when added to your diet it can improve the absorption of minerals such as magnesium and calcium as well some B vitamins (the fat soluble vitamins) such as vit A,D,E,K and beta carotene.
The MCFAs is the livers preferred choice for fuel to produce energy so coconut oil can boost your energy levels, make you more alert, and is a great substitute to caffeine. It may not give you that kick you get from your morning coffee, it is more subtle, yet lasts for hours rather than minutes. The best thing about changing to coconut oil is that you don't develop a dependency to it nor do you get the lows and withdrawal symptoms. So why not try adding a dollop of coconut oil to a nourishing smoothie, warm herbal tea, hot chocolate or juice to wake you up before you head to work.
Surprisingly to some, coconut oil is now known as the 'low calorie fat'. Instead of being stored away in fat cells, it is utilised as an energy source. When added to a meal it satisfies the hunger faster resulting in less snacking between meals. It also increases metabolism, thus, burning more calories faster! A study has shown that on obese individuals coconut oil had a greater effect on increasing their metabolism which, in turn, leads to weight loss. Yes, weight loss! The best thing about this is that the more body fat you have, the greater the effect coconut oil has on stimulating your metabolism, the more weight you lose. All of this without breaking a sweat!
Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid function which, in turn, improves a host of symptoms such as migraines, pmt, anxiety, depression, irritability, memory loss, insomnia, constipation, food intolerances and the list goes on. The MCFAs has powerful antimicrobial properties with the ability to destroy fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites without harming the good bacteria living in our bodies. This means it is able to treat infections like pneumonia, meningitis, food poisoning, conjunctivitis, oral and gum disease, candida, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, and even SARS and AIDS.
With all the benefits I've mentioned so far it shouldn't astonish you to know that it also has gut healing, anti inflammatory powers. By just adding coconut products to your diet you may be able to protect yourself from ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, gallbladder disease and so on. It's antioxidant properties protects us against conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, kidney stones, gout, lupus, PMS, arthritis, ageing, skin diseases, sun burn, diabetes, food allergies, hay fever, asthma and even cancer.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of some of the amazing things coconut oil can do. By just adding one or two tablespoons to your diet you will be treating any underlying illnesses plus optimising your health at the same type. Be sure to get the best quality coconut oil you can afford and get the whole family involved in consuming this delicious exotic healing oil.
Recipes for Health
All purpose health tonic packed full of vitamins and minerals that will give you the energy you need to start off the day. A great way to add coconut oil to your diet and a brilliant substitute to your morning coffee. It can be taken at any time of the day and can be served hot or cold.
§ 1 cup fresh vegetable juice (such as carrot, beetroot, celery, chard, spinach, cilantro, bell peppers and courgettes)
§ ½ cup hot water
§ 2 tbsp coconut oil
§ ¼ tsp onion powder
§ 220g / 1 cup tomato sauce
§ 1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
§ ¼ tsp sea salt (otherwise Himalayan or Celtic salt)
§ Pepper to taste (optional)
Heat water, coconut oil, and onion powder until the oil is completely melted. Stir together the hot water mixture, tomato sauce, vegetable juice, lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. The beverage should be warm enough to keep the coconut oil melted. If the flavour of the tonic is too strong, dilute it with a little more water. Stir and enjoy.
This ointment is good for bacterial infections. Use topically on the skin or gums. Good for fighting gum disease and dental plaque. Apply the ointment with a cotton swab to the affected area.
§ 1 part essential clove oil
§ 10 parts virgin coconut oil
o Coconut cures, 2005, Bruce Fife ND.
o Scalding, L., et al. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium chain and long chain triglycerides. Am J Clin Nutr 1991; 53: 1130-1133.