Virgin Coconut Oil: Uses, Nutrition And Health Benefits

The coconut tree belongs to the palm tree family (Arecaceae), which is botanically a drupe, not a nut. Coconut oil is an edible oil produced from the kernel of mature coconuts and it has gained immense popularity in the recent years for its innumerable health benefits.

Almost over thousands of studies have proven, coconut oil to be one of the healthiest foods. The many uses and healing benefits of coconut oil go beyond people’s expectation, coconut is indeed a true superfood.

The coconut tree is claimed as the ‘lifeline of health’ due to its versatile benefits and uses. However, choosing the right type of oil from the different types available coconut oil brands can be a bit challenging.

Coconut oils are typically available in two varieties -virgin and refined oil. Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) is produced by cold-pressing the liquid from the coconut meat, later extracting the oil from milk and water and has a milky appearance. It is 100% natural, unbleached and cold-pressed. Virgin coconut oil is popular for its pleasant aroma, taste, powerful antioxidants, healthy fatty acids and essential vitamins to name a few.

Virgin coconut oil is produced from the coconut without heat exposure. It is gaining more popularity across the world in comparison with ordinary coconut oil for its indispensable nutrition and benefits.

Refined coconut oil is refined and processed through heat exposure. It has a very little coconut flavour as it is made from dried coconut or copra. The refined coconut oil is called RBD – refined, bleached and deodorized. During this process of RBD, the oil gets deodorized under extreme heat, gets filtered through clays to bleach the oil and remove impurities. Sodium hydroxide gets added to the final product to ensure a longer shelf life.

Though refined coconut oil is less expensive, it is not widely recommended as it loses all its nutrition while processing.

How To Make Virgin Coconut Oil

The main distinction between regular and virgin coconut oil lies in the making and extraction. Virgin oil is extracted from coconut milk got from fresh coconuts. Then it undergoes several processes like fermentation, churning (centrifugal separation), refrigeration and the enzyme actions after this oil is parted from moisture.

The raw materials and process of extraction of virgin oil do not allow any usage of heat. So, it is potent to take extreme care while selecting the kernel and raw ingredient coconut milk should not be exposed to heat or sunlight throughout the complete process. Sometimes virgin coconut oil is made directly by cold compression of fresh dried coconut meal called micro expelling.

Virgin coconut oil obtained by cold compression method is considered far better than that extracted by the fermentation method. As the oil obtained by fermentation has high moisture content and can get spoiled faster. During winter season if you need to melt the oil, take oil in a small glass and place the glass in warm water, never melt it directly on the heat.

Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is simply unique and exotic in taste, this wonder oil also comes with an amazing nutrient profile that delivers holistic healing benefits. Right from improving heart health by increasing the good cholesterol levels, aids in losing weight, alleviates the symptoms of infections, boosting skin and hair health, promoting digestion and bolstering immunity are a few of the impressive health benefits.

1. Promotes Levels Of HDL Cholesterol

As per the Harvard Medical School literature, coconut oil improves the levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) which assists in promoting heart health. Always remember to use it sparingly, moderation is the key towards good health.

2. Weight Loss

Evidence from Journal Lipids suggests that coconut is beneficial in burning the adamant fat in the abdomen and aids in losing weight. Coconut oil as compared to all other edible oils is easy to digest and aids in proper working of the thyroid and endocrine system. Research conducted at University Sains Malaysia alludes that coconut oil can boost the body’s metabolic rate by getting rid of the stress on the pancreas by burning energy and aids obese people to lose weight.

3. Supports Heart Health

Strong evidence shows that almost 50% of fats found in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as lauric acids which are assimilated easily by the intestine and can be used by the body to make energy. In addition, MCTs are not involved in the transport of cholesterol.

Several studies conducted on heart disease patients, it was noted that a diet rich in virgin coconut oil indicated an increase in good cholesterol and a decrease in bad cholesterol.

4.Treats Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study recommends that the use of coconut oil enhances the cognitive abilities of Alzheimer’s patients, particularly in language and orientation areas. The MCTs present in coconut oil is super-rich in ketones linked with boosting memory.

5.Prevent Yeast Infection – Candida

Candidiasis is a severe condition caused due to an excessive growth of yeast called Candida albicans in the gut. As per the study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that coconut oil provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida. The moisture sustaining capacity of coconut oil maintains the skin from peeling off. Capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid found in coconut oil assists in thwarting of Candida albicans.

6.Improves Dental Health

Several kinds of researches recommend that the use of oil pulling is potent against several dental problems such as plaque and halitosis. Furthermore, oil pulling using coconut oil can be very efficient in lowering plaque formation caused due to gingivitis.

7. Digestive Health

The essential fatty acids in coconut oil include lauric acid and monolaurin possesses strong antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties. These properties assist in managing various bacteria, fungi and parasites that cause several gut issues.

8. Stress Relief:

Pure virgin coconut oil used as a carrier for aromatherapy is very relaxing and eases stress. Gently massaging coconut oil to the head aids to ease of mental stress and fatigue due to its antioxidant properties.

9. Diabetes:

Pure virgin coconut oil helps in stabilizing blood sugar spikes and promotes the secretion of insulin. It also stimulates the effective use of blood glucose which helps to manage diabetes.

10. Bone Health:

Coconut oil fosters the ability of your body to absorb vital minerals including calcium and magnesium which are required for the development of bones. Hence it is very useful for women are more prone to osteoporosis after 40 years of age.

11. Treats Epilepsy

Several study findings revealed that the MCT ketogenic diet is used in treating refractory childhood epilepsy and drug resistant epilepsy. The goodness of MCTs in coconut oil is utilized as a part of a ketogenic diet to offer relief from seizures and epilepsy.

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