Coconuts have been consumed in tropical areas for thousands of years and those on a native diet have been known to be in good health. Coconut oil is a staple to many people when cooking, however, in the U.S. coconut oil has gotten a lot of negative publicity due to the fear of consuming saturated fats. Saturated fats have been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, however, those who consume coconut oil have shown lower cholesterol levels. Also, studies have shown that those who consume coconut oil regularly have lower risks of heart disease, some cancers and colon problems. Another benefit of coconut oil is its thyroid stimulating power. In fact, in the 1940s farmers tried to use coconut oil to fatten their animals, but instead found that it made them leaner, more active, and increased their appetite. (source) So does this mean that science could be wrong and some saturated fats aren’t as bad for us as once thought? Now I’m not saying it’s ok to now go out and load up on truckloads of fried foods, but it might benefit you to add some coconut oil to your diet. According to the coconutoil.com website, here are the health benefits of the saturated fats found in the oil:
• Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of cell membranes. They give our cells necessary firmness and integrity.
• They play a vital role in the health of our bones. For example, at least 50 percent of our dietary fats need to be saturated for calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure.
• They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.
• They protect the liver from the toxic effects of alcohol and certain drugs.
• They enhance the immune system.
• They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats.
• Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for the heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.
• Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.
I have also found that coconut oil has many uses besides consumption. Chris and I have recently purchased some virgin coconut oil to use as a moisturizer. We have found it works great in moisturizing and softening the skin. It is full of antioxidants that help repair skin damage and strengthen skin tissues, which helps prevent wrinkles. If you are worried about smelling like a coconut all day, don’t be. The lovely smell (which I actually do like), fades shortly after it soaks into your skin. The best part is, you know you are truly getting an all natural moisturizer. There aren’t any additives, chemicals or other harmful ingredients that can be found in some lotions. You are getting pure, natural coconut oil and that’s it and the results of silky, smooth skin. 🙂