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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
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Is Coconut Oil the Fountain of Youth?

Is Coconut Oil the Fountain of Youth?

For most North Americans, coconut is a fun flavor, enjoyed shredded, sweetened, and made into cookies or candy, or perhaps whipped up in a piña colada.

For much of the rest of the world, though, coconuts are more than just an occasional addition to a tasty confection; they are a staple of nutrition and traditional medicine. Coconut oil, especially, is used to promote health and treat an amazing variety of ailments.

Until recently, coconut oil was out of favor because of its high saturated fat content. Saturated fats are often implicated for contributing to heart disease and high cholesterol. Paradoxically, though, nutritionists now know that coconut oil is possibly the most healthy oil in existence, surpassing even olive oil. As scientists learn more about the composition of various fats, and their effect on health, they discovered that the length of the fat chains that make up coconut oil allow them to be more readily used for energy than some other fats, so they don’t hang around clogging up the bloodstream, or settling in around vital organs. In fact, coconut oil may even help to clear other, less healthy fats, away.

Beyond just that, though, coconut oil contains three compounds — lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid — that make it useful as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and moisturizer. Here’s a look at just a few of the health benefits attributed to coconut oil:

Skin and hair care: Coconut oil is an exceptional moisturizer for both skin and hair. It can help to fight dandruff, whether caused by a dry scalp or a more serious condition, and breathe new life into dry, brittle hair. It has been shown to heal flaking, cracked skin, forestall wrinkles, and help in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, and other chronic conditions, and to speed up the recovery of bruises. It also makes a great natural alternative to commercial hair conditioners or skin lotions.

Immune support: The lauric acid in coconut oil is converted by the body into monolaurin, which is key to a strong immune system. As a result, coconut oil can help the body fight off a variety of viruses and infections, such as cold, the flu, and even harmful parasites such as giardia lamblia. It can also be used topically to heal skin abrasions and fight fungal infections. It kills harmful bacteria and fungi without damaging tissues, and also moisturizes wounds to prevent them from drying out.

Cardiovascular health: The lauric acid in coconut oil can help to prevent or lessen issues such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also contribute to greater elasticity in the veins and arteries, for a more healthy circulatory system

Healthy organ function: Coconut oil supports the function of the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and gall bladder, ensuring that everything operates smoothly, and preventing disease in these important organs.

Digestion: The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil fight off bad bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can take up residence in the digestive tract, helping to promote healthier digestion. This can prevent issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, and also allow the body to more efficiently absorb the nutrients in food.

Blood sugar: Coconut oil improves the secretion of insulin, which helps the body to regulate blood sugar, and also enables the body to more efficiently use glucose for energy. This makes it helpful in preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones and teeth: Coconut oil can improve the body’s ability to absorb minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which contribute to strong bones and teeth.

Weight loss: The fatty acids in coconut oil are easy to digest, and are used up quickly by the body, in the form of energy. In addition, healthy dietary fats speed up the body’s metabolism, allowing it to burn more calories, while at the same time contributing to a sense of feeling full, which can prevent overeating.

25 comments

1 Barbara Loyd { 07.09.14 at 11:38 pm }

Walgreen’s sells organic coconut oil, their brand and another.I love the oil for my skin and hair and have had no allergic reactions. I take coconut oil capsules which help my digestive system.

2 Tammy { 07.09.14 at 10:28 am }

How much would you suggest taking orally for health on a daily basis? I have used this on my hair for a conditioner occasionally, and it is great. But would like to know what is a good amount to ingest for both my husband and myself. We both have stomach issues. He has ulcerative colitis and I have a lot of bloating and abdominal pain all the time… Suggestions?

3 Kathleen { 07.08.14 at 9:42 pm }

Does coconut oil taste like coconut?

4 Elizabeth { 07.08.14 at 6:22 pm }

Isn’t there different types of coconut oil. Some for cooking, then another type for use as beauty treatments!

5 La Bic { 10.14.13 at 5:54 pm }

Warning: don’t discard left-over coconut oil into sink drains… unless your pipes rest in 80 degrees F or warmer, year round. Coconut oil can clog drains! You might have to slowly pour boiling hot water down a drain until it flushes the oil (but then doing so could send the oil further into a difficult-to-reach pipe!); you just might have to call a plumber!

6 La Bic { 10.14.13 at 5:36 pm }

Living in Washington state over 50 years, coconut oil is a relativley new product in my home (for the last year or so). Consider how it is a staple of life in most tropical regions, and how healthy peoples from such regions tend to be, compared to the ill health issues commonplace in the USA. I threw out the first couple of jars of coconut oil which I experimented with, for my lack of knowing how to utilize it. Finally I became determined to incorporate coconut oil into our regular diet after a nutritionist showed me a photo of my protein-poor blood cells. She told me to fry two eggs in coconut oil for breakfast each morning. Good hints: try Organic, Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed, unrefined, 100%, Non-GMO Coconut Oil. Such is becoming easier to find in the health-food sections of grocery stores, supplement/athletic-food stores, and co-ops. In fact, we buy ours by the gallon at Costco warehouse stores. Keep stored at standard room temperature (it softens easily in warm weather, liquifies in hot weather, and hardens in cool storage). One might want to “season” a pan with coconut oil for best cooking performance. To fry: heat enough oil in pan to throughly coat surface (just enough for an egg to swim in). Use medium low heat, and put an apron on (coconut oil splashes are very difficult to remove from garments). As soon as oil is transparent, drop egg in. Be patient, since lower heat takes longer to cook an egg. Gently flip egg after egg-white loses transparancy. Allow bottom to set, then remove egg to plate. After eating eggs from this oil for a couple months, I did a taste test against eggs cooked in unsalted butter (like I used to do). The butter-cooked eggs had a definite BOVINE note, and I WON’T go back to frying with butter! Oddly, frying in coconut oil works better when it is in its second-or-more-day of use in the same pan (fresh oil in a clean pan doesn’t perform as well, making eggs stick!; so if it’s new oil in a clean pan, make sure you keep the heat at medium-low setting). ALSO: leftover meats (especially slices of prime rib, or steak strips) taste fabulous when reheated in a thin film of medium-heat coconut oil. One can STIR FRY as usual with coconut oil (we really like stir-frying in this oil). TOPICAL USE: scoop extra coconut oil into separate, clean container. My husband started applying coconut oil on his lower shins daily, to soften dry patchy skin. He used to think the irritation came from wearing socks, but it is actually a symptom of an ailment. An added bonus to massaging his shins with coconut oil each day was seeing his varicose veins diminish within a couple or so weeks! He decided to massage his scalp & hair with a thin coat of coconut oil most days, and it makes his hair glossy and tamed. I like to rub some into my hair a half hour before shampooing once in a while, for deep conditioning (especially since the last hair dye job made my hair feel coarse). And yes, coconut oil works wonders as a healthy substitute for k-y type gel (ladies with menopause and/or recovering from female surgery can appreciate this!). I recommend reading the “Coconut Research Center” website for much more good reading.

7 Jaime McLeod { 11.08.12 at 12:25 pm }

Lois, Yes. Though you may want to get separate jars for culinary use and cosmetic use, unless you are very careful.

8 Lois { 11.07.12 at 1:14 pm }

I buy coconut oil from a health store. Am I suppose to use it out of the jar for my hair, skin and cooking?

9 Jaime McLeod { 10.26.11 at 1:40 pm }

Teresa, I can’t guarantee that it would help, but I don’t believe it would hurt. Some people with Crohn’s disease swear by coconut oil.

10 Teresa { 10.26.11 at 11:16 am }

I HAVE CROHN’S DISEASE, WOULD IT BENEFIT ME TO USE IT? sOME THINGS ARE HARMFUL WITH CROHNS.

11 Helen { 07.24.11 at 7:31 pm }

I’ve been using extra virgin coconut oil topically, orally, and in cooking for about 5 months now. I love what it has done for my skin and hair. Also really enjoy it in place of butter on my toast. One of my favorite breakfasts now is steel cut oatmeal with coconut oil, honey, dates, and either walnuts or almonds. YUM

12 Jaime McLeod { 07.24.11 at 1:03 pm }

varaha – We don’t have any control over what ads show up on our site, and we certainly don’t write stories to please advertisers. This site uses Google Adsense. Google chooses which ads to put on our pages. Google’s ad engine uses a metric that tailors the ads to match the content of a page, thus improving the chances that the ad will get a response. This happens on any website that you visit that uses Google ads. Because this site is free to the end user, we depend on these ads to keep it running.

13 Cow Patti { 07.24.11 at 1:54 am }

Sounds like it’s definately worth a try. I know that a few years ago that it was no longer concidered a dietary taboo, and it’s healthy, beneficial qualities were recognized. I’ll be adding it to mine and my familys’ diets!

14 varaha { 07.23.11 at 10:11 pm }

What a coincidence! There is an advertisement for coconut oil right beside this story.

15 Janetta { 07.23.11 at 6:53 pm }

can you recieve the same benefits from eating coconut and is there a different in eating fresh coconut and processed

16 Sonya { 07.23.11 at 2:51 am }

I have been using coconut oil in my hair now for a couple weeks and it has been doing wonders. I have dry brittle hair and the coconut oil helps to keep my hair mositurized. Now that I have learnt all these additional benefits, especially for skincare; I am going to invest in using coconut oil as opposed to lotions!

17 Sheila Johnson { 07.20.11 at 2:21 pm }

Is there a recommended amount to consume daily. I am trying to lose weight and don’t want to over do it :)

18 Phyllis { 07.20.11 at 11:57 am }

I find this oil very hard to work with. It must be warmed to mix with other ingredients but hardens as soon as it touches them. Therefore I cannot use it to make mayonnaise or bake. Suggestions would be helpful.
I do not like it for popcorn, butter pops my corn much better with a better taste. Also I find butter makes items fry more crisp without sticking to the iron skillets.

19 Vicky { 07.20.11 at 10:38 am }

I’ve been using cold-pressed virgin coconut oil for about two years now. On a side note, it makes the worlds best popcorn. Use it for popping with seasalt and add a little on top mixed in for the fresh benefits. I use a wok with just a pot lid. Works great. Also, if I start using the oil early enough in the spring, I never need any other sunblock. I worked in my gardens here in the South and did not burn once last year. Just a nice, not overly done tan. I scrub with used coffee grounds (caffeinated) which leaves my skin feeling like silk and the coconut oil for skin cream most of the time, I’ve also not had one flare up with my diverticulitis since I began using the coconut oil and I was tormented with it prior to finding and using the oil. Just bought a case of six gallon buckets. It was much less expensive than the meds. I had to start trying natural remedies after becoming very ill and highly sensitive to many chemicals and artificial ingrediants. High quality coconut oil is wonderful in that it is highly effective plus it is delicious and high on the health chart. (And don’t forget the popcorn. It’s really easy to do, two minutes, wok wiped clean, bowl filled and you’ve gotten in your last portion of oil for the night.) :^)

20 Rose Hart { 07.20.11 at 9:22 am }

You can find excellent organic coconut oil at Platinum Health Care Products out of Long Beach, CA. I buy it by the gallon – 1-888-747-6733. I use it in all our cooking, baking, searing; on toast, my body, my hair………………….It’s an exceptionally wonderful product!

21 Trudy { 07.20.11 at 9:20 am }

Here is a link to a very good site to buy the coconut oil. I even have a recipe to use it in deodorant.
http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_gold_label_virgin_coconut_oil_special_offer.htm

22 Angie { 07.20.11 at 9:04 am }

Where can you normally find this virgin coconut oil for cooking and topical uses? I’ve never seen it sold in grocery stores. Would it be in health food stores and is it expensive? I saw a lot of my own personal issues in this article and would very much like to try this. Thanks for any advice.

23 Jaime McLeod { 07.20.11 at 7:55 am }

Terri – For internal benefits (cholesterol, sugar regulation, etc.) you ingest it. You can substitute it for other oils, such as olive or canola, in cooking. For external benefits (moisturizing, hair conditioning, etc.) you use it topically, just like any other skin lotion or salve.

24 Diane { 07.20.11 at 1:45 am }

We have been using virgin coconut oil now for a little over 2 months. We use it on our toast everyday, and I use it to cook with I have to tell you that it is really good. We have replaced our oils and our butter with it. We have told everyone we can about the virgin coconut oil as I was not well for months and I started using the coconut oil and felt better in just 4 days. I also use it on my skin as a moisturiser. This stuff is incredible!!!!!

25 Terri { 07.19.11 at 10:13 pm }

this may be a silly question, but what do we do with it to receive all of these benefits?

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