Natural coconut oil has been used as both cooking oil and medicine by South Pacific islanders for centuries.
Known to be rich in both disease-inhibiting antioxidants and highly beneficial medium-chain triglycerides, this so-called superfood – like others before it – has brought about a backlash in recent years, but one which doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
In this article, we'll show that the health benefits of coconut oil – particularly organic, unrefined coconut oil – are considerable.
The benefits of coconut oil are such that it has been touted for those who suffer from:
- Crohn's disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Viral infections
- Liver disease
Natural coconut oil isn’t just useful for people struggling with severe health problems, though. Because it is so rich in medium-chain fatty acids, and so packed with beneficial nutrients, Dr. Bruce Fife tells us that it can help:
- Promote weight loss
- Protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and many other degenerative diseases
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve digestion
- Prevent premature ageing of the skin
But Isn’t Coconut Oil Supposed to be Bad for Your Health?
Many people labour under the misapprehension that coconut oil is bad for you because it’s full of saturated fats, but in fact coconut oil is incredibly beneficial in moderation, and can actually help maintain the health of your cardiovascular system.
According to Dr. Fife, saturated fats have no missing hydrogen atoms or double-bonded carbons, and as such, are not vulnerable to oxidation or free radical formation like unsaturated fats.
Furthermore, saturated fats remain stable even when heated to normal cooking temperatures, and play an essential part in providing your body with the energy it needs.
Coconut oils do not encourage weight gain or heart disease either, despite the best efforts of the vegetable oil industry to convince us otherwise. In fact, coconut oil is composed primarily of medium- and short-chain fatty acids which are easily broken down and used for energy production, not stored as fat.
Fife’s exhaustive research into the health benefits of coconut oil makes one thing abundantly clear: everything about this miraculous substance is healthful, and as long as it’s taken as part of a balanced, healthy diet, it can bestow no end of positive effects upon you.
Organic Coconut Oil Uses
As mentioned, there are many uses for coconut oil; we have summarised just a few of them in this section.
Organic Coconut Oil for the Heart
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest ones you can use for your heart.
Although many naysayers will argue that coconut oil's high saturated fat content makes it a no-no for those keen to protect their cardiovascular system, they falter when confronted with the Pacific Islander conundrum: namely the low incidence of heart disease among Pacific Islanders who live on traditional diets rich in coconut.
Indeed, among the Tokelauans, nearly 60% of energy is derived from fat – most of which is saturated fat from coconuts!
As noted by Dr. Fife, "All of the criticism that has been aimed at coconut oil is based primarily on the fact that it is a saturated fat and saturated fat is known to increase blood cholesterol.
"No legitimate research, however, has ever demonstrated any proof that natural, non-hydrogenated coconut oil adversely affects blood cholesterol levels."
Perhaps we should look at the 2018 study which asked three different groups to eat either 50g of extra virgin coconut oil, 50g of unsalted butter or 50g of extra virgin olive oil per day for a month.
In what came as no surprise to coconut oil devotees, nature's elixir achieved the best results. Not only was there no rise in LDL ('bad' cholesterol) levels among the coconut oil group but there was a significant increase in HDL ('good' cholesterol) – up 15%.
This compares to an increase in LDL/HDL of 10% and 5% among the butter group. The olive oil group, meanwhile, saw a small reduction in their LDL cholesterol and a modest 5% rise in HDL.
The fact that those consuming coconut oil had actually reduced their risk of developing heart disease or stroke only goes to show the heart-healthy properties of natural coconut oil.
Organic Coconut Oil for Hair
Although known primarily as a culinary oil, coconut oil can also be used as part of a natural hair care regime.
Indeed, the all-natural oil’s fatty acid content makes it a perfect remedy for dry hair or dandruff. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties also help to give hair a glow.
Sceptical? Take a look at the label of your preferred cosmetics and hair care lotions. You should not be surprised to find coconut oil mentioned.
But how exactly can you use coconut oil for hair? Take a look at this article, which lists five of the best uses.
Organic Coconut Oil for Skin
Can coconut oil help with skin issues? Absolutely. Actually, organic, unrefined coconut oil is one of the best natural skin lotions available to us and has a long history of traditional topical use.
The oil is absorbed into the skin and thereafter into the cell structure of connective tissues, protecting us from the damage caused by sun exposure.
Coconut oil can also confer youthfulness on the skin by maintaining the strength and suppleness of connective tissue, which in turn guards against sagging and wrinkling.
What’s more, the oil aids in the healing and repairing process. As noted by Dr. Fife, the Polynesians who use coconut oil regularly are rarely troubled by skin infections or acne.
If you want to learn more about the myriad benefits of coconut oil, this article is well worth a read.
Why Choose Organic Coconut Oil?
As with most foods, it is advisable to choose organic when it comes to coconut oil. Why? To ensure you avoid the pesticides which come from intensive farming practices, and to also avoid the oil-extracting chemical hexane.
Opting for unrefined, meanwhile, ensures you avoid the bleaching typical of the refinement process.
When we discuss the benefits of coconut oil, we are largely referring to the benefits of organic unrefined coconut oil: the kind which is made from fresh coconuts and has not undergone any harmful processing.
Organic, unrefined coconut oil is also solid: the liquified coconut oil you might come across in the supermarket undergoes extra processing and, in fact, its fatty acid content is diminished.
Adding Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil to Your Diet
According to The Coconut Oil Miracle, we should use up to 3 1/2 tablespoon of natural coconut oil in our diet per day if we want to experience optimum health.
This oil can be used for cooking, as a substitute for butter in baking recipes, or as a spread for bread and crackers.
You will find some incredibly useful recipes, as well as a whole lot more information about the health benefits of coconut oil, in Bruce Fife’s book The Coconut Oil Miracle.
Whether you're adding coconut oil to your diet for its heart-protective properties, or using it as a healthful lotion or hair-care product, remember the words of Dr. Fife.
"There are too many benefits to ignore. The facts are there, and you can read them yourself if you want to wade through the medical literature. If the naysayers don't want to believe it, don't let that hold you back."