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.
What Is Extra Virgin Coconut Oil?
Extra virgin implied to coconut oil is essentially meaningless. However, as many oil experts understand extra virgin to be the best grade of olive oil available, where manufacturers are also labelling coconut oil as extra virgin as well. Coconut governing authorities only accept virgin grade and don’t recognize extra virgin coconut oil as the real one. There are ideally two types of coconut oil- virgin and refined coconut oil.
Coconut oil obtained through direct cold-pressed extraction is good and edible for use. It has a broad spectrum of uses right form cooking oil, hair oils and for producing herbal oils. Purely crushed coconut oils are edible oil as it is heaped with medium-chain triglycerides that lower cholesterol and promote heart health.
How To Make Coconut Oil At Home
Nowadays supermarkets are flooded with countless varieties of cooking oils and many of us are yet to figure out one which is pure and unadulterated, and it appears to be a tough task. The custom of making oil at home goes way back to a time when our grandmothers used to diligently extract the creamy liquid from nuts and use the leftover to make desi ghee at home for cooking.
However, in the recent years due to industrialization and need for convenience food, most of us have turned to packaged refined oil loaded with emulsifiers, additives and hydrogenated fat. Cooking oil is a quintessential part of dishes in every single meal. Here is a very simple way of making coconut oil at home.
3 to 4 coconuts will give you 1 litre of coconut milk, from which 50 grams of oil can be extracted.
3-4 grated coconut
Extract the coconut milk by pressing it with hand using a muslin cloth, add little hot water that makes it easy to press out all the milk.
Filter the coconut using a muslin cloth to remove any impurities.
In a heavy bottom vessel pour the coconut milk and put it on fire. Cook for 2-3 hours on a low flame.
Keep stirring until the milk turns to brownish colour, be cautious not to burn the coconut milk.
As the milk thickens remove from fire and allow it cool down. Pour the thickened milk in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the pure oil and store it in a can or bottle.
Homemade coconut oil has a shelf life of one year, don’t leave it open as it may get spoiled and lose its nutrients.
Benefits Of Virgin Coconut oil
Virgin coconut oil has a unique taste and cologne which is heaped with a whopping amount of essential fatty acids and antioxidants. This liquid gold provides you with a host of medicinal and therapeutic properties.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Coconut Oil
The incredible health benefitting traits of coconut oil has been mentioned in Ayurveda manuscripts Sushruta Samhita, around 2000 years back. According to the holistic science of Ayurveda coconut oil is nourishing in nature, when consumed internally helps in enhancing strength and vitality. Traditional medicine hails external uses of coconut oil for healing wound and treating skin woes like eczema, psoriasis.
Coconut oil is valuable in pacifying vata and pitta dosha, while it increases kapha dosha. Several herbal medicines are made using coconut oil as the base element, which is chiefly used externally and also internally for healing many health conditions. This wonder oil is sweet in taste, bulk enhancing and strengthening. Furthermore, it best for promoting hair growth and also removes excess pitta and vata dosha.
Massaging with coconut oil assists in improving blood circulation, lubricates the internal organs, joints and bones, improve quality of sleep, adds moisture and makes the skin supple and smooth.
Recommended Usage: Daily or at least 2-3 times per week for best results.
Gundusha: Oil Pulling
The age-old practice of oil pulling using coconut oil helps to combat harmful bacteria, reduces bad breath, prevent dental cavities and promotes gum health
Recommended Usage: 1-3 times per day
Nasya: Nasal Drops
Nasya therapy helps to moisturise nasal massage, heal cracks in nostrils, cleanses sinuses, uplifts voice, vision and attention.
Recommended Usage: As and when needed
Almost all the calories in coconut oil come from fat which may sound quite scary, but fat is also one of the essential macronutrients required to perform several bodily functions. Fat is essential to assimilate fat-soluble vitamins, produce hormones, guard the organs and maintain the body temperature within the normal range.
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 13.5 grams of fat, one gram of fat provides 9 calories, so one tablespoon will provide you about 120 calories.
Great Energy Booster
Coconut oil is mostly used by athletes, bodybuilders and weight watchers. The fat present in coconut oil is quickly converted into an instant source of energy and does not lead to the building up of fat in the heart and arteries. Furthermore, it helps to boost energy, endurance and boost the overall performance of athletes.
Saturated fat always has a bad standing, as it can rise up the level of bad cholesterol in the blood and increases the risk of heart disease. Not more than 10% of the total calories in the regular diet should come from saturated fat. The saturated fat in about one tablespoon of coconut oil is 90% of which half of it is lauric acid. This fat substance has an entirely different chemical structure than all other types of saturated fat, thus promotes to increase high-density lipoprotein or HDL. However, use sparingly because it is still high on fat and calories.
The medium-chain triglycerides are believed to digest well into the system.
Lauric acid constitutes about 40% of the total fat, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, and palmitic acid. The body converts lauric into monolaurin, which aids in fighting with viruses and diseases.
Capric acid responds with enzymes produced by bacteria which later converts it into a potent antimicrobial agent monocarpin.
Caprylic acid, caproic acid, and myristic acid exhibits strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties
Stearic acid has potential cleansing and solidifying properties which are used extensively in skincare essentials
Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Virgin Coconut oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids- linoleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids- oleic acid.
Poly-phenols in coconut oil contains gallic acid, which is liable for the staggering fragrance and has a unique taste. Virgin coconut oil is a great source of polyphenols
Derivatives Of Fatty Acid And Fatty Alcohol
It also comprises several derivatives including betaines, ethanolamine, ethoxylates, fatty esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides, and polyol esters. There are few fatty alcohol derivatives which include fatty chlorides, fatty alcohol sulfate, and fatty alcohol ether sulfate.
Vitamins And Minerals
Coconut oil is not a great source of vitamins and minerals, but still, have limited amounts of a few. It fairly contains iron the mineral which carries oxygen to all cells in the body. Coconut oil also contains a very small amount of vitamin K that aids your blood to clot and vitamin E a potent antioxidant that prevents free radical damage of the cells.
Coconut oil, chiefly a saturated fat is stable and able to hold high temperature than many other plant oils, thus making it one of the excellent oil sources for cooking. It delivers an exotic taste and great texture to foods. Always prefer virgin coconut oil for the superlative quality.
Coconut oil has a broad spectrum of uses in the Indian kitchen, mostly the tropical states of India. It is impeccably apt for sautéing, roasting and frying. It can also be used as a healthy swap for butter in making baked products which promotes the rich aroma and flavour of the dishes.
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.
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.
Uses of Coconut oil in Hair And Skin Care
The secret reason for the long and silky mane of women in tropical coastal areas is the wonder coconut oil. The buttery-like coconut oil helps in growing the mane stronger and offers a sparkling shine to hair strands.
As stated in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, coconut oil is largely powerful in lowering protein loss which can lead to weaker hair quality. As it is having a low molecular weight, coconut oil can diffuse deep into the hair shaft and prevent hair damage.
Coconut oil is extensively used as hair care oil in the production of several conditioners and dandruff –relief lotions.
The grade one type of healthy hair is organic virgin coconut oil, simply apply it topically on your hair to get a stronger and healthier mane.
Concerned about damaged mane? Again, coconut oil is one best fix. It is an awesome conditioner and aids in regrowth course of damaged hair. It also offers the essential proteins necessary for revamping and healing damaged hair. Regular massaging coconut oil on your head can assure that your scalp is dandruff free. In addition, it also aids in maintaining your hair and scalp free from lice infestation.
Coconut oil serves amazingly well for all types of skin. As per a latest study on the outcome of various plant oils on the skin health, coconut oil is found to be super rich in powerful antibacterial, anti-aging, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Coconut Oil is used widely in treating several skin problems that include the following:
Treats Eczema And Psoriasis
Applying virgin coconut oil can lower the severity of these skin issues.
Shields Against UV Radiation
Studies suggest that routine usage of coconut oil guards against the dangerous effects of UV rays.
Research revealed that virgin coconut oil is effective in easing symptoms of atopic dermatitis when compared to other mineral oil.
Heals Skin Wound
Virgin coconut oil helps in accelerating the wound healing due to its powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pure virgin coconut oil is a safe and efficient moisturizer for all types of skin, including dry skin.
The presence of monolaurin an active ingredient in coconut oil found is a strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal in nature. It guards the skin from the dangerous effects of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus that leads to pimples and other skin infections.
Coconut oil is an incredible natural wonder that aids in healing from burns.
Distinct from all other mineral oil there is very little chance of getting any adverse side effects on the skin from the usage of this wonder oil. Thus, coconut oil has been safely used for over thousand years for inhibiting dryness and flaking of skin.
For all of this impressive reason, this miracle oils forms the carrier ingredient of various body care essentials like soaps, lotions and creams that are used for skin care regimen. What’s more, this astonishing oil delays the signs of wrinkles and ageing of the skin.
Like any other oil, use coconut oil in moderation. If you are a heart patient, limit it to 2-3 teaspoons a day.