Virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed from the white “meat” of the coconut, consists almost entirely of the saturated fatty acids lauric acid and myristic acid. Its unusual fatty acids profile means that coconut oil cannot contain harmful transfats, since these can only be created out of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Indeed, the high content of saturated fats makes coconut oil ideal for frying, since it is extremely stable at high temperatures. For the same reason, coconut oil has a very long shelf life (up to two years). Coconut oil is sometimes unfairly accused of being unhealthy due to its high content of saturated fats. However, unlike the saturated fatty acids found in animal fats and some vegetable fats, the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are much shorter (they are called “medium-chain tryglicerydes” as against the “long-chain tryglicerydes” in animal fats). These shorter saturated fatty acids do not have the widely documented health risks associated with long-chain fatty acids. On the contrary, researchers regularly point to the robust health of Pacific Island communities (heavy consumers of coconut oil) as an indication of the healthy nature of virgin coconut oil.
As a Skin Treatment
Virgin coconut oil has for centuries been used as a remedy by traditional healers to nurture the body, mind and spirit. It is ideal as an all over body moisturiser and skin conditioner especially for sensitive skins. It may be helpful in topical relief for skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis and after sun relief, through its cooling and soothing properties.
The oil can be slightly warmed to ensure that it is very liquid. You then massage 2 to 4 teaspoons (depending on the volume of hair) into the hair and leave it in the hair for 1 to 2 hours. Alternatively you can leave it on overnight (you will need to cover your pillow with a towel). After that you will wash your hair with your favourite natural shampoo. This can be repeated 2 x weekly. VCO will also help control dandruff.
As a Cooking Oil
Virgin coconut oil contains a unique group of saturated fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) the same unique set of MCTs that are also found in human breast milk (mothers milk) Traditional knowledge supports coconut oil as the richest vegan source of Lauric Acid, found only in Mother’s Milk and Virgin Coconut Oil in concentrations of up to 50%.
Coconut oil has many benefits:
Most oils contains long chain fatty acids which are absorbed slower into the body due to the fact that they must be emulsified by bile salts in the small intestine before they can be absorbed into our body. The short and medium-chain fatty acids contained in coconut oil is absorbed directly and this is more easily digestible and converted into quick energy.
The Good Oil
Research has found that medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are created when digesting MCTs in coconut oil, enhance the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, B-group vitamins as well as fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K.
Virgin coconut oil’s unique properties make it an ideal addition to any weight management program. A study conducted on a population, where coconut oil is a staple, showed that metabolic rates of the individuals within the population were 25 percent higher than in comparable test subjects. It is recognised that an increased metabolic rate is a key to healthy weight management and may account for the leanness of people living in areas where coconut oil is consumed on a daily basis. Coconut oil yields fewer calories than any other oils. MCA’s actually speed up metabolism so we can more efficiently burn the calories we eat.
Enjoying Virgin Coconut Oil
The saturated nature of virgin coconut oil proves to be highly resistant to heat and light. It has the highest smoke point of all natural oils (approx. 180°C), making it ideal for baking and frying, without causing the breakdown into trans fatty acids or rancidity often associated with vegetable oils. It has the slight aroma and taste of the beautiful fresh fruit. Ideal for curries and Asian dishes, it’s great when sautéing onions, baking or frying potatoes, scrambled eggs or simply spread on toast. You can blend it with other healthy oils such as olive oil, use it in smoothies and salad dressing, or enjoy it straight from the spoon. Recommended daily intake is three tablespoons a day.