Uses for Coconut Oil

uses for coconut oil

Consider the coconut. Crack open this fuzzy, hard-shelled tropical fruit and you get a nutrient-rich feast with a host of health benefits. Indeed, the coconut has long been acclaimed not just for its vitalizing water or its sweet kernel, but also for its edible and surprisingly versatile oil. Coconut oil, which is extracted from the fruit’s kernel, is a pretty hot topic these days. The proven benefits from coconut oil, in both food and medicinal applications, almost seem to make the news daily. Consider these uses for coconut oil the next time you’re cooking pastry, searching for a good repellent, moisturizing your skin and more!

Coconut oil increases “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein): Coconut oil is rich in fat. More than 50 percent of this fat comes from lauric acid, a type of fatty acid that can have a more positive effect on serum lipoprotein levels (comprised of the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood) than other oils. “Good” HDL can mean better cardiovascular health.            

Coconut oil for cooking: Coconut oil’s sweet flavor makes it a perfect medium for roasting, frying or sautéing a wide variety of meats and vegetables. It also provides a great flavor-and smell!-enhancing ingredient when added to cakes and other baked confections. Anyone with dietary restrictions (such as vegans) or with dairy-related allergies can substitute melted coconut oil for butter, or room temperature coconut oil for shortening.

Coconut oil as a stain remover: The next time you have a greasy stain, try combining 1 part coconut oil to 8 parts of cleaning solvent (dry) and then dry spotting the stain to help remove it.

Coconut oil for moisturizing skin: The botanical (plant-derived) ingredients in coconut oil helps to preserve your skin’s outer layer, and keep your skin moisturized and firm.

Coconut oil treats atopic dermatitis: One study suggests that applying virgin coconut oil topically can improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema), a chronic condition resulting in inflamed, itchy areas of skin.

Coconut oil for preterm baby health: One study suggests that a coconut oil massage can improve growth and help expedite weight gain in preterm babies.

Coconut oil promotes hair health: Coconut oil, when applied to the hair, helps to moisturize hair follicles and protect them from damage caused by combing.

Coconut oil as a mite repellent: Coconut oil, when combined with jojoba, has been shown to help repel scabies mites, or tiny insects that tunnel beneath the skin, breed and then hatch their eggs, which then results in scabies, or a highly contagious rash.

Coconut oil for soap: The high lauric acid content of coconut oil makes it an ideal ingredient for bar soap. Lauric acid contains antibacterial properties, increases soap lather and enhances the hardness of the soap bar.

The applications for coconut oil are many. Whether you use it in a cake, in your hair or to treat a bad case of eczema, you’re sure to benefit from this amazing, sweet smelling tropical oil.           

 

References: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2011/May/coconut-oilhttp://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/articles/Do_skin_creams_deliver.htmhttp://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=630167http://www.uvm.edu/~edstudio/Information/april10/products/soapmaking.pdf (lauric acid research), http://www.pjm.microbiology.pl/archive/vol5812009043.pdf (lauric acid research), http://www.human.cornell.edu/fsad/outreach/upload/removingstains.pdf  (stain removal)

Originally posted 2013-10-17 15:55:52.

How 'bout coconut oil?

coconut-oil-1There’s been a lot of hype lately about coconut oil, as its many health benefits have become more evident. After being stuck with a negative reputation a few decades ago, coconut oil has finally taken back its rightful place in our cabinets. But what makes it so good for us and how should we incorporate it into our diets?

History: Coconut oil has nourished healthy nations for thousands of years. This tropical oil was highly regarded for its flavor, and its antibacterial and immunity properties. During the last few decades, however, coconut oil has been vilified mainly due its high saturated fat content. Over the last 60 years, health officials have been telling us that consuming saturated fat would result in negative health consequences including elevated cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, obesity, etc. Interestingly enough, over those same last 60 years, instances of heart disease, obesity, and cancer have only increased in the American population. Meanwhile, modern-day primitive societies who have continued to use saturated fat as a staple in their diets have seen few instances of heart disease, obesity, or cancer.

Considerations: One thing health officials have failed to mention about saturated fats is that they’re not all created equal. Naturally occurring saturated fats (including those found in coconut oil) are beneficial to health. Those that have been manipulated, such as hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils, are what pose serious health risks.

A 1981 study of two different Polynesian populations found that the majority of the members in both populations had good cardiovascular health and very few health problems, despite consuming coconut as a dietary staple.  There is actually no scientific evidence that indicates coconut oil is bad for health.  To the contrary, everything indicates that coconut and coconut oil are health-promoting foods.

Nutritional breakdown: Coconut oil (and its saturated fat) has many health benefits, including:

  • Promoting heart health
  • Promoting weight loss
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Supporting a healthy metabolism
  • Promoting healthy and youthful looking skin
  • Supporting  thyroid gland function

Coconut oil is composed of a particular type of fatty acid, called lauric acid, which contributes to the oil’s list of health properties. Lauric acid is a powerful antivirus and antibacterial , and there is not a single food source on earth that contains more lauric acid than coconut oil.

Additionally, coconut oil is recognized for its high content of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), also known as medium-chain fatty acids or MCFAs. MCTs are so magical because they can easily be digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. MCTs are sent directly to the liver and converted into energy. This makes coconut oil a good source for immediate energy with little chance of it being stored as fat on your body. By contrast, most common vegetables and seeds are comprised of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which put more strain on the pancreas, liver, and entire digestive system. 

Because coconut oil has such a high level of saturated fat, it can withstand very high heat, making it one of the healthiest cooking oils. Frying destroys the antioxidants in most vegetable oils and causes oxidation. Oxidation results in cross-linking, cyclization, double-bond shifts, fragmentation, and polymerization of oils that can cause far more damage than trans-fats. Vegetable oils (canola, soy, vegetable, corn) should be avoided at all costs and should be substituted with coconut oil or ghee, especially for frying. Even olive oil cannot withstand the high temperatures of cooking like coconut oil without being incurring oxidative damage.

The takeaway: Although coconut oil has been regarded as unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, new findings prove the exact opposite: it’s actually the saturated fat in coconut oil that contributes to heart health, immunity, metabolism, beautiful skin, and healthy thyroid function.  If the scientific evidence isn’t enough, anecdotal evidence for thousands of years, coconut oil was a staple in nourishing many healthy populations.

Shopping for coconut oil has become rather complicated due to the tropical oil’s growing reputation in the health market. Be aware of marketing schemes. When shopping for coconut oil look for organic, cold-pressed, unrefined virgin coconut oil (VCO). 

Uses & Recipes: Coconut oil has various uses from skin moisturizer to roasting sweet potatoes (recipe below) to baking. You can even add it to smoothies, hot tea, or coffee for an extra boost of energy.  Coconut oil’s uses are just as numerous as the health benefits.

Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 Serves 4 to 6 

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil; 2 pounds organic sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks; ½ teaspoon fine sea salt; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper together in a large bowl until evenly coated. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with lime zest.

References: The Truth About Saturated Fats and the Coconut Oil Benefits, Traditional Fats and Sacred Foods, Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Originally posted 2013-07-14 06:56:10.

DIY Goo Remover

DIY goo remover

Chemicals easily sneak into many household products, but they don’t have to fill your home. Make simple switches like this one to rid your life of toxins.

Create your own DIY goo remover from two ingredients and easily get rid of stickers, adhesive gunk, gum, and other sticky messes.

Step 1. Measure ¼ C baking soda into a small jar with a screw-top lid.
Step 2. Add ¼ C coconut oil and mix well.

Goo Remover

Step 3. Use to remove stickers and make your life a little easier!

photo-4

Just like other goo removers, test in an inconspicuous area before use and do not use on cloth, silk, leather, or suede.

Originally posted 2013-06-25 23:26:46.