The coconut has unfortunately long been regarded as unhealthy in Western culture due to it’s high content of saturated fat. In many other cultures, however, the coconut makes up a substantial proportion of day-to-day diet resulting in low levels of obesity and high levels of overall health. Having done some extensive reading on the use of coconuts to benefit health and their chemical composition I gave it a try for myself. I have now been using coconut daily for a year both in my food and on my body and have been astounded by the results. I would like to share my experiences with you so that you, too, can feel as happy and healthy as I do! A great place to read the facts about the chemical makeup and health benefits of coconuts is the Coconut Research Centre which provides a variety of medical and scientific journal articles.
Perhaps the greatest misconception about coconuts is that they are bad for our health due to their high content of saturated fats. While coconuts are high in saturated fat, the coconut is unique in that this fat is made up of medium-chain fatty acids as apposed to the long-chain fatty acids in other saturated fats. “The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.” (Coconut Research Centre). This is important as it dramatically alters the way the our bodies can metabolise this fat. While long-chain fatty acids are stored in the body as fat, medium-chain fatty acids such as those found in coconut oil are turned straight into energy and not stored in the body as fat making coconuts a great food energy source! Coconut oil is also the worlds only low-calorie fat! In addition, coconut oil provides a myriad of other benefits. An extensive list can be found here, but this is my personal result of using coconut oil for a year.
My hair was what initially inspired me to hunt down a jar of coconut oil. After years and years of dying, bleaching and heat-styling my hair, it was like stretchy, see-through, crispy straw. Not a good look! I had tried probably close to 50 different treatments, shampoos, conditioners masques, oils, you name it and nothing had worked. If anything, some even made it worse. The first time I tried coconut oil I spread it evenly through my hair until it was almost saturated then left it on over night, sort of like a hair masque. When I woke up in the morning almost all of the oil had been absorbed. I washed my hair as normal and let it dry naturally. My hair was looked and felt amazing! I couldn’t believe it was the same hair. It was soft, shiny, easy to brush and didn’t tangle. In the past I had tried olive oil on my hair but I found this impossible to wash out and it made my hair greasy. With coconut oil I didn’t have any of these problems. A year later and my hair is super long, healthy and shiny. I use coconut oil about once a week and the effects just get better and better. My hair grows really fast now too and doesn’t break off. Where my hair used to tangle and be difficult to manage I can now go without brushing my hair for three days or so and still no tangles! It’s also a million times cheeper and purer than other ‘hair’ oils. It can be used as a leave in conditioner, pre-shampoo treatment, normal conditioner, or masque. I can’t say enough amazing things about it!
I use coconut oil as a moisturiser by rubbing it directly into my skin. This leaves my skin baby-soft and smelling amazing. It’s great for every day as coconut oil also blocks out 20% of the sun’s UV rays so helps prevent sun damage. Due to it’s antibacterial properties it works as a great underarm deodorant and makes wounds and cuts heal extra fast. I used it to rid my fiance of his fungal toe-nail and athletes foot and coconut oil is also anti-fungal! It makes a great carrier oil for essential oils to make great aromatherapy massage oils. It’s also great in the bedroom (if you know what I mean!)
I use coconut oil on my face daily as a moisturiser. After I wash my face, I just rub in a small amount everywhere including the area around my eyes and lips. I used to suffer from oily skin but this has completely cleared up, as had my mild acne! It might seem weird to put oil on your face if you also suffer from oily skin or acne but trust me, it works! It sinks right in and leaves your skin feeling naturally hydrated without being greasy. This feeling lasts all day and I no longer feel my skin getting greasy towards the end of the day. At night I use coconut oil with a drop of tea-tree added and rub that on my face which prevents mosquito’s biting while i’m asleep! I also used to have a sort of permanent frown line on my forehead which has completely disappeared since I started using coconut oil.
Coconut oil is the healthiest oil for cooking as it is exceptionally heat stable and oxidises at a much higher temperature than other cooking oils. It is not strong in taste so can be used in place of any other fat for frying or sautéing, in cakes and biscuits. As you have probably noticed, I replace the fat in just about any recipe with coconut oil or coconut milk and it’s delicious and low-calorie!
Coconut milk is a product made from coconut flesh and water. My favourite brand, (TCC Premium Coconut Milk) contains just that: coconut and water. Try finding ANY other canned food product that actually contains just one ingredient and water. No preservatives, no colours, no flavours, no additives, no added sugar or sweeteners just coconut and water and it’s heavenly. Use for curries, drinks, smoothies, drink alone, rice, cakes, biscuits, savoury and sweet cooking, desserts, instead of cream on fruit. Lush!
As if the rest wasn’t good enough…. It’s super cheap! Don’t be fooled by over-priced branded or advertised coconut products that you see on TV or in health food stores. Don’t buy coconut oil ‘for hair’ in the pharmacy or anything like that as it will almost certainly be of a lesser quality and contain unnecessary preservatives and chemicals as it’s not sold for human consumption. In the West, products like coconut oil are marketed in such a way to attract people to spend big $ in exchange for it’s miracle properties. While it is certainly worth any amount of money, go to your local Asian grocery store and pick up a couple of jars. It will be cheap as chips because there it’s just a staple food that everybody buys, not the latest TV beauty fad. Also, if you’re going to put something on your face, body, injuries, hair, it might as well be good enough to eat! In chain supermarkets, Woolworths stocks coconut oil in the Asian food section at $5/jar! $5! I would hazard to guess I have saved hundreds of dollars over the past year on conditioners, moisturisers, and many other products all thanks to coconut oil!
My Favourite Products:
Make sure you keep reading upcoming posts for recipes for home-made coconut beauty products, my favourite tried and tested coconut products as well as delicious coconut recipes for meal or dessert! Now go and wallow in some coconut oil… it’s good for you!
Just another great tip for ‘Living Large and Spending Small!’ 😀
Love, Nea! XxX