The Benefits of Coconut

If you know anything about the Banting Diet, as recommended in The Food Revolution by Dr Tim Noakes and Sally-Ann Creed (and currently followed by everyone you know) you will know about The Benefits of Coconut… but, just in case you haven’t yet heard about this power food I thought I would give you a bit more info about it…. what forms you can find it in, how to use it and why you should be adding it to your diet and daily life immediately!

The Benefits of Coconut

Coconut is one of the world’s superfoods, the uses in cooking and as a beauty product are endless.

In the parts of the world where coconut is a dietary staple – people have thrived. For thousands of years, Pacific Islanders have used coconut as a staple dietary source for medicine and food. They are among the healthiest people in the world due to their healthy diet that keeps them free of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other degenerative conditions.

Only fairly recently have researchers have begun to fully discover the massive health benefits that this amazing fruit seed offers. Very few people, and even fewer doctors, understand how important the coconut is to various health issues such as stabilizing blood sugar; lowering cholesterol; healing; hydration; and even replacing blood plasma in an emergency. During World War II blood plasma supplies were scarce and in areas where coconuts were prolific it was very common for medics to siphon pure coconut water from young coconuts and use these in emergency blood plasma transfusions for injured soldiers as it is nearly identical to human blood and also suitable for people of all blood types.

Coconut oil

Due to its extensive benefits more and more people are adding Coconut oil to their diets. The health benefits have been listed below in more detail but some of these include a boosted immune system, stress relief, proper digestion, weight loss and cholesterol maintenance.

It can provide relief from diabetes, kidney problems, high blood pressure and heart diseases. These health benefits can all be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid as they have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Coconut oil can be used for cooking in place of butter or other oils. It is considered the best and safest oil to use for cooking — even superior to extra virgin olive oil when it comes to giving the body what it needs for optimum health. Unlike other fats and oils that we use for cooking and baking, coconut oil does not form polymerized oils or dangerous trans fatty acids in our bodies, which can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries and make skin sag and wrinkle.

In addition to it’s culinary uses it is also one of the best natural ingredients for use as a beauty and hair care product and it widely used in its natural state as an excellent hair conditioner. It is one of the most penetrative oils and deeply penetrates the hair shaft (and skin) to ensure that moisture is retained. The lauric acid contained in the oil acts as an antimicrobial which reduces causes of hair loss that are attributed to microbes penetrating the hair shaft and it assists in the re-growth process of damaged hair. When massaged into the scalp it diminishes dandruff and relieve dry, itchy scalp in a few months of use.

Coconut oil has ample benefits for the skin too as  an effective moisturizer and a safe solution for preventing and treating dry, flaky skin and various skin problems such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and other skin infections. The abundance of antioxidants in coconut also help reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and is sold in jars or tubs near the cooking oils or natural food section at larger supermarkets and health shops. When buying coconut oil make sure that the label says that it is 100% pure and cold pressed.

coconut

The Health Benefits of Coconut

1. Coconut oil’s saturated fat has medicinal properties

Coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) that have powerful medicinal properties. In the past people were warned to stay away from the saturated fat found in coconut oil, however, new data is showing that saturated fats are harmless. It is advisable to stay clear of long-chain fatty acids, but medium-chain fatty acids, as found in coconut oil, are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract and are used as a quick source energy or they are turned into “ketone bodies” which have therapeutic effects on brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

A ketogenic (very low carb, very high fat) diet is currently being studied to treat various disorders such as ADD and ADHD and previously has been known to assist in treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children. This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fats. MCT’s, as found in coconut oil, are a great source of this fat as the conversion of these by the liver into ketone bodies in the blood has been found to dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children, even those who haven’t had success with many different drugs.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and occurs primarily in elderly people. In Alzheimer’s patients, there appears to be a reduced ability to use glucose for energy in certain parts of the brain. Sometimes it is even referred to as “Type 3” Diabetes.

Recent research has come from people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, with reports of people improving or even reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s by using coconut oil. Ketone bodies supply energy for the brain and researchers have speculated that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Studies show that the fatty acids in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketone bodies, supplying energy for the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and relieving symptoms.

For those suffering from hypothryroidism, coconut oil helps boost metabolism and raise body temperatures to promote thyroid healt and Candida sufferers also report health benefits with coconut oil as research now confirms.

2. Coconut oil helps to increase your energy, reduce hunger & burn fat!

Obesity is currently one of the biggest health problems in the world and while an excess of calories is to blame it is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. Most people don’t realize that coconut oil can actually help you lose weight!

Unsaturated fats found in canola, corn and other vegetable oils, as well as margarine suppress the metabolism, which makes it harder to lose weight — and easier to gain it. Over time, metabolism suppression results in excess weight that your body cannot get rid of.

The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats. They have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term. Coconut oil helps to increase thyroid function and boost your metabolism which are both important when aiming to shed weight and the fatty acids in coconut oil can also significantly reduce appetite, which may positively affect body weight over the long term. If coconut oil can increase fat burning and reduce appetite, it can also help people lose weight and seems to be especially effective in reducing dangerous abdominal fat associated with many Western diseases. Simply by adding coconut oil and restricting carbohydrates in your diet you may loose cm’s from your waistline!

3. Coconut oil contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties

Lauric acid in coconut oil can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi and helps to prevent infections. When coconut oil is digested, it forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin and both lauric acid and monolaurin kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi including the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.

4. Coconut oil can improve your cholesterol

Coconut oil can get a bad rap as when it came to heart-health due to the 87% saturated-fat content. It’s important to know that while it is often marketed as helpful for cholesterol levels, some nutrition experts disagree about the health benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil contains a mixture of saturated fatty acids which have now been discovered to not harm the blood lipid profile as previously thought, but while its predominant saturated fat, lauric acid, does raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, it also raises harmful LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease, although some studies have shown this to be converted into a benign subtype of LDL. If you are worried about the effects of coconut oil on your cholesterol speak to your doctor or clinical nutritionist.

5. Coconut oil is an amazing skin care product

Many people use coconut oil to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair. It also gives the skin the perfect mix of hydration and antioxidants that it needs to stay healthy, smooth and younger-looking. People with very dry skin find it a very effective body moisturiser.

Another great benefit is in protecting your teeth from the bacteria that can cause cavities and disease. Simply by rubbing fresh coconut oil on your gums and teeth you can keep them stronger and healthier. Another way to use it for mouth health is as a mouthwash in a process called “oil pulling” that can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath.

 

 

To summarize here are the health benefits of Coconut…

• Lower cholesterol
• Improve digestion
• Ward off wrinkles
• Stabilize glucose levels
• Build cells
• Regulate hormones
• Increase thyroid production
• Lose weight
• Increase metabolism
• Fight infections
• Stave off memory loss
• Immune booster
• Antifungal
• Antibiotic
• Antiviral
• Antibacterial

Coconut-Oil-Health-Benefits

Coconut products — including coconut flesh, coconut water, coconut oil, and coconut cream — each deliver superb health benefits.

The benefits of coconut oil are numerous and it is something that I have started to use often in my daily life in various forms. Currently we use coconut oil as a body moisturiser, in our cooking and as an additive in my kids diet in order to help them with their eczema. However, there are other forms of coconut that you can use in which to reap the health benefits such as coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, coconut flour and coconut flakes.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a popular ingredient in cooking especially Thai food. It is made from a brew of coconut meat and water and is rich and thick with a cream-like consistency. Coconut milk contains 445 calories and 48 grams of fat (43 grams saturated) per cup so many people prefer to opt for the “lite” version when cooking to trim about two-thirds of the fat and calories without sacrificing flavor!

Coconut Water

Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the inside of a whole, young green coconut. It contains a natural sweetness with a nutty flavour. The coconut is a natural water filter. It takes almost 9 months for a coconut to filter every quart of water stored within its shell. This makes the resulting coconut water completely pure and sterile, which is one reason why it can be used for blood transfusions. It is loaded with nutrients, amino acids, minerals and has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Another benefit of coconut water is the fact that it has one of the highest concentration of electrolytes found in nature which makes it an excellent source of hydration and has led to it becoming one of the most popular health drinks as it contains no preservatives or artificial sweeteners. Just 1 cup will provide more than 10 percent of your daily dose of potassium, an electrolyte you lose when sweating.

It is recommended drink for diabetics as it contains nutrients required by diabetics to keep their sugar levels down. It also reduces the risk of kidney stones due to its natural diuretic properties and the presence of minerals, potassium and magnesium. Choose coconut water with no added sugar and find it in the refrigerated section or on the shelf near other flavored fruit juices of your health shop or larger supermarket.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is made from the meat of the coconut that has been dried and ground into four. It is a very fine, powder that resembles wheat flour in appearance, although it smells distinctly of coconut. Coconut flour does not taste of coconut, but has a slight sweet taste that is versatile enough to use in any dish.

One of its most distinctive characteristics is the how it soaks up moisture and liquids, and in this it differs from most other flours, gluten-free or otherwise. It’s like a sponge in powder form, taking in a remarkable amount of eggs, oil and other wet ingredients, and still staying as thick as porridge until it finally reaches saturation. But beware too much liquid and you’ll end up with a soggy baked good that won’t cook through!  Baking with coconut flour does take some getting used to and a few experiments along the way. It’s advisable to begin with recipes from people with experience of cooking with coconut flour before you begin to create your own.

The health benefits of coconut flour are endless. It has anti-bacterial properties, boosts thyroid function, cleanses the body’s internal systems and enhances bone and dental health due the high level of calcium and magnesium present in the flour. It is naturally low in carbohydrates, gluten-free, low in cholesterol and free of phytic acid, which prevents important nutrients from being absorbed by the body. Coconut flour has health benefits for people with diabetes, too: adding coconut flour to baked goods lowers the glycemic index (a measure of the rate that a food increases blood sugar). The combination of coconut flour’s low level of cholesterol and high fibre content can also aid in weight loss, protect the heart from heart disease, decrease blood pressure, aid in the prevention of strokes and boosts energy production plus one tablespoon of coconut flour contains only 30 calories! When shopping look for coconut flour near other gluten-free flours.

Coconut Flakes

While fresh coconut meat is nutritionally superior as it contains more water to dilute the fat and calories, prepackaged dried flaked coconut or dried shredded coconut is the most convenient to cook or bake with. Always use unsweetened versions to gain maximum health benefits.

 

What do you think? Do you use this super food in your own home, which forms do you use and what benefits have you noticed? Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments section below…

 

 

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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