Ever wondered why coconut oil is in demand and very expensive? It is because of its amazing health benefits and it is known as one of the healthiest foods in the world. Coconut is a fruit that offers medicinal nutrients to those who consume it; a coconut tree is called “kalpa vriksha” in Sanskrit which means “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”. There are four main ways of consuming coconut;
- By eating the fruit
- By drinking the water
- By drinking the milk
- By using the oil
In this article, we will be focusing on the many health benefits of coconut oil because it has many other uses apart from health. Coconut oil is very medicinal and it has been used for centuries to treat different kinds of ailments, there are over 1,500 scientific findings and researches backing the therapeutic actions of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is healthy and can treat and prevent lots of diseases due to its rich contents of phytochemicals, minerals, healthy fats known as medium chain fatty acids which contains caprylic, Capric and lauric acids; its saturated fats is easy to digest thereby it is converted to energy fast in the body and it can easily go through the cells of the body.
Below are some of the medicinal functions of coconut oil:
It strengthens the immune system: Without a strong immune system, one can’t live a long and healthy life. Coconut oil is rich in lipids and medium chain fatty acids and these compounds have strong anti-viral, anti-fungi and anti-bacterial properties. Lauric acid contained in coconut oil creates a hostile environment for viruses.
It gives energy: Body builders, dieters and athletes use coconut oil for this reason, it contains fewer calories compared to other oils and its fats are easily and quickly converted into energy by the body. This prevents accumulation of fats in the arteries and heart; it boosts endurance and energy and increases the performance of athletes.
It eases inflammation: Inflammation is behind many chronic diseases and due to the high content of anti-oxidants in coconut oil, it eases inflammation and arthritis. It suppresses inflammatory cells and works as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory oil.
It makes the heart healthy: Lauric acid contained in coconut oil reduces cholesterol levels, thus preventing hypertension and heart problems. It reduces Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, increases high density lipoprotein, prevents blood vessels (arteries) from rupture and prevents atherosclerosis. A study proved that regular intake of this oil in pre-menopausal women helped them to maintain a healthy lipid profile. Although there are other studies that have proved that it is bad for the heart due to saturated fats yet many studies have also proved that lauric acid is good for the heart. This is a controversial topic, so when taking it regularly, check your cholesterol regularly too to avoid health problems.
It prevents Alzheimer’s disease: It boosts brain functions and prevents brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. The medium chain fatty acids are easily converted to ketones by the liver and this is made available to the brain for energy. Ketones provide energy to the brain without the use of insulin to process glucose into energy. Alzheimer patients’ brain lacks the ability to produce its own insulin, so ketones from coconut oil serves as an alternative source of energy; this helps and repairs brain functions. It also improves memory and prevents memory problems in older people.
It aids weight loss: It contains saturated fats that are healthy, the fats contains medium chain fatty acids that reduce abdominal density in women and takes off excess weight. It does not stay in the body as fats because it is easy to digest and when consumed it is immediately converted to energy and distributed throughout the body. People from the tropical coastal regions are not fat or obese because they use coconut oil to cook. It burns fats and calories; it decreases appetite and makes one feel full.
It keeps the organs of the body healthy: Its rich contents of fatty acids and medium chain triacylglycerides helps to protect the organs from diseases, it is potent against liver disease. When ingested, it is immediately converted to energy and this reduces the workload of the liver and prevents s accumulation of fats in the body which affects body organs including the heart. It also dissolves kidney stones, prevents kidney and gall bladder diseases, treats pancreatitis and keeps the pancreas healthy. It also heals and clears up urinary tract infection, kidney infection; its fatty acids work as natural anti-biotic, they destroy the lipids that coat the bacteria and kill them.
It boosts digestion: It improves the functions and activities of the digestive systems and prevents digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome. It contains saturated fats that have anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria, fungi and any parasite that cause indigestion and it helps nutrients and minerals to be easily absorbed by the body.
It prevents diabetes: It controls blood sugar level, improves insulin secretion, helps the body to effectively utilize glucose and it helps in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. It reduces the strain on the pancreas, it gives the body a consistent energy source apart from glucose and this can prevent insulin resistance and type II diabetes.
It kills microbes: Coconut oil can kill harmful microbes like fungi, virus and bacteria; when coconut oil is ingested, the lauric acid present in it is converted to monolaurin which is very effective in killing viruses, bacteria and fungi. Patients with Herpes, Influenza, HIV, yeast infections and cytomegalovirus are advised to include coconut oil in their meals.
It prevents candida: This is a discomforting diseases, it affects millions of women worldwide; it is caused by uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans, yeast found in the stomach. Coconut oil relief internally and externally the inflammation caused by candida due to its powerful anti-microbial effects.
It promotes healthy growth of hair: This oil is the secret behind the long, shinning hair of women in the tropical parts of the world; they use coconut oil daily for their hair. It boosts healthy growth of hair and guards against hair loss, hair damage and breaking. It conditions the hair and helps damage hair re-grow by supplying the body with essential proteins. Buy natural hair care products made with coconut oil or you can apply raw coconut oil on your scalp and massage it. It fights dandruff and repel hair lice and their eggs.
It beautifies the skin: It is a great moisturizer for all skin types, it has no side effects and it keeps skin problems and infections at bay. It also prevents dry skin and skin flakes. It is also rich in anti-oxidants that slows down aging, clears wrinkles and sagging of the skin and it gives the skin a healthy glow. It can be used as face cleanser and sun screen; it can treat many skin disorders because it has powerful anti-inflammatory effect and anti-oxidants.
It supports healthy teeth: Coconut oil helps the body to absorb calcium from foods eaten and calcium is an important component of the teeth; it helps the body to develop strong teeth. It also halts tooth decay and stops formation of plaque and plaque induced gingivitis. Oil pulling with coconut oil heals periodontal diseases; it clears bacteria from the mouth and prevents and treats gum diseases because of its high anti-microbial properties.
It promotes healthy bones: It helps the body to absorb and utilize calcium which strengthens the bone and this prevents osteoporosis. Its high levels of anti-oxidants also fight free radicals which weaken bones.
It speeds up healing of wounds: When applied to open wounds and cuts, it speeds up healing and at the same time prevent wound infection. It forms a chemical layer over the wound that prevents it from dust, dirt, fungi, bacteria, viruses and contaminated air. It speeds up healing of damaged tissues.
It makes AIDS and Cancer treatment effective: Preliminary research has shown that coconut oil reduces the viral susceptibility of HIV and Cancer patients and it reduce the viral load of HIV patients. Coconut oil can fight cancer due to these two reasons; it is converted to ketone in the body and tumor cells can’t utilize ketones and they depend on glucose for survival, secondly the fatty acids in coconut oil can digest the protective coating of bacteria, making it possible to kill the helicobacter pylori bacteria that increases the risk of stomach cancer. It is so strong that it prevents cancer from developing in the first place when taken regularly.
It reliefs stress: This oil is very soothing; apply it on your forehead and massage it gently to relief stress and mental fatigue.
It is used as carrier oil: Carrier oils can easily penetrate into the skin, facilitate absorption of other oils or herbal extract into the skin when mixed into it. It is used as carrier oil for essential oils and herbal extract because it can easily go through the pores of the skin. It is one of the most stable oils known, it doesn’t go rancid and it preserves whatever is put in it, it does not alter their chemical or physical properties and it protects herbs and oils from fungi and microbes.
Above are a few health benefits of coconut oil; if you don’t have access to coconut oil or it is too expensive, I will teach you how to make your own coconut oil in the comfort of your home.
How to make Coconut oil?
You will need the following:
- Big and matured brown coconuts, avoid immature and green coconuts.
- A blunt object for breaking the coconuts like hammer or a small axe.
- A knife and a tablespoon for scrapping the meat and scooping the curd.
- A strong blender
- A chopping board you can use to chop the meat/flesh of the coconut
- Sieves, coffee filter or cheese cloth.
- Bowls and a wide mouth jar with a tight lid
- Clean water
- A stainless steel pot for cooking the coconut till the oil seeps out. Avoid using coated pots or non-stick pots, they will make the oil to get to high temperature when cooking and this can affect the nutrient quality and make sure the stainless steel pot used is original.
- Using the hammer or axe or any strong object, break open the coconut.
- Use the knife or strong metal spoon to remove the meat from the coconut.
- Use the knife and chopping board to cut the coconut into small pieces or you can use a grater or shredder to do it so that it can be easy on the blender.
- Put the chopped or shredded coconut in the blender and turn it on.
- You can add water; blend it until it is very smooth.
- When you have gotten your smooth consistency; put off the blender.
- Place or wrap a sieve, coffee filter or cheese cloth over or around a clean bowl or wide mouth jar.
- When you have put the sieve in place, pour the coconut mixture and squeeze the milk into the jar, squeeze it hard to make sure you get every drop of the liquid; do this until the whole coconut mixture has been sieved.
- Leave the jar or bowl undisturbed for 24 hours, if you want it to harden quickly, you can refrigerate the jar and its content or leave it in a cold room. You will see separate layers of coconut milk and coconut oil; the layer of curd will be at the top of the jar.
- Using the tablespoon, scoop out the curd and you will be left with pure, unrefined coconut oil.
Some people prefer boiling the coconuts when making the oil. If you want this method, this is the procedure:
- You heat a quantity of water that will be enough for the quantity of coconuts you have. Let the water stay on heat until it starts steaming.
- Grate or chop the coconuts into a clean bowl.
- Put the grated or chopped coconuts in the blender, pour the hot water over it, close the lid of the blender and blend till smooth.
- Follow the procedure above and sieve the mixture, you can even add more hot water to the chaff to sieve and get more liquid.
- Pour the liquid in a sauce pan and heat it, stirring it continuously till it boils, the water evaporates and the cream separates from the oil and the oil turns brown. This method takes a lot of time; that is why I prefer the above method. If you don’t have enough time, you can choose not to boil the liquid; rather you pour the liquid in a clean bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap. Let it stay for 24 hours at room temperature while you do other things; then put it in a freezer to enable the oil solidify and float to the top. Then you strain the oil from the liquid and there is your virgin coconut oil.
Coconut is a very common fruit in the tropical regions and the oil is not expensive but in other parts of the world, the reverse is the case. Some people have access to only dry and dehydrated coconuts, if that is what you have; here is how to make coconut oil with them.
- Put the coconut flakes in the juicer; do not use shredded coconut so that it won’t clog your juicer.
- Juice the coconut flakes, you can do it small batches if you have a large quantity of coconut flakes.
- Repeat the above process for the coconut flakes because one time juicing can’t extract all the oil.
- Pour the oil in a jar and leave it for 24 hours in a warm place; the coconut cream will settle at the bottom of the jar while at the top will be your pure coconut oil.
- You can fetch the oil into a new container with a spoon when it has solidified and separated from the cream.
If you like this last method, you can chop mature brown coconut into smaller pieces, place them on a baking sheet, put it in an oven , set it at the lowest temperature and let it cook until it is completely dried.