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Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is from the Coconut Palm which is close cousin to the Oil Palm from which comes Palm oil. The Coconut Palm is considered to have originated in the tropical regions of the Americas whereas the Oil Palm is widely distributed throughout the tropical regions of Africa and western Asia. Palm oil from mainly the palm fruit has been touted for health benefits and uses for many years, but over the last few years Coconut oil is starting to take more and more of the spotlight.

The Coconut Palm is a tree that produces what we commonly know as the coconut, which botanically is not a nut but a drupe aka fruit. This fruit has four distinct parts, the outer husk, then a hard shell and inside this shell is the inner fleshy white meat and water.

There are seemingly endless uses for all of these parts. The outer husk and hard shell have been used for everything from: Building materials, fireplace logs, compost, bird houses and feeders, drinking vessels, fuel for wood stoves, livestock feed, etc. The water in a coconut is typically sterile and therefore potable in a ready to carry container. It is the fleshy white coconut meat typically used to make coconut oil, flakes, powder and milk that is increasingly making headlines for health and wellness.

Like anything these days, there are varying qualities and methods for producing coconut oil. Generally there is a dry and wet process for extracting coconut oil. The dry process involves drying the meat into what is called copra, and the wet process involves extraction from fresh moist product. Either process can be done naturally or not, with or without the use of heat and chemical extraction. The best source of coconut oil is organically grown and naturally processed without heat or chemicals and obviously unrefined or hydrogenated in anyway. Consequently, any of these factors can make a healthy option immediately harmful. Because of Coconut oils high saturated fat content, it is solid at room temperature and has a melting point of 76 degrees.

Pure coconut oil that has been naturally processed is gluten, carbohydrate, and cholesterol free. And now for the zinger: The nutrient profile for 1 tablespoon of coconut oil is 130 calories of mainly saturated fats with some trace elements of vitamin E, K and iron and it is also high in sulfur. The fact is, the notion that saturated fat is bad for us is turning out to be largely a myth. Examples: Eggs which are high in not only saturated fat but cholesterol and once said to be unhealthy are now all of the sudden healthy options. Chocolate and palm fruit oil both loaded with saturated fat, again considered healthy options.

Let’s just step back and take a commonsense look for a moment. There are remote populations of people in tropical climates, that don’t have fast food or grocery stores, where foods made from coconuts make up better than half of their diet. When the health of these people is observed it is found that they are largely without the standard heath issues that we face in this country such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer for example. This is strong evidence for having saturated fats in ones’ diet.

The fat content of Coconut oil is mainly lauric, capric, and caprylic acids which are naturally antiviral and anti-fungal. In particular, the body converts lauric acid to monolaurin, a key immune support component in breast milk. Additionally, these antimicrobial fats are comprised of medium chain triglycerides known for their health benefits and ease of use by the body. The sulfur content of Coconut oil has been gaining attention for healthy cholesterol maintenance.

Historically, the praise of Coconut oil has been largely testimonial. But now a wealth of studies are starting to support these claims as can be found for example at the: National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Here is the short list of uses and benefits of Coconut oil: Taken internally; improves immune function including antimicrobial properties to fight infection including flu and herpes, also capable of fighting candida, improves overall digestion and promotes and improves efforts of weight loss, helps balance cholesterol and blood pressure due to its high sulphur content. Used topically; to fight infection and skin disorders of any kind including cold sores or yeast infection, natural mild sunscreen and deodorant, soothes and helps prevent diaper rash, topically nourishes hair and skin and prevents dryness, massage oil and personal lubricant, as a cooking oil for deep frying or any food recipe.

Written by DMK of Seven Grains