Have you tried using coconut oil in your cooking or baking? What about on your hair or on your face?
Do you like coconut oil? I do, and over the past year I have been using it more and more, especially after Costco started selling it for a very reasonable price compared to the health food stores.
You see coconut oil has experienced a revival. Back in the 1990s, coconut oil was criticized as an evil ingredient -- clogging arteries and raising cholesterol wherever it went. These days, however coconut oil has re-emerged and has become... a health food. You read that right. Coconut oil's resurgence comes with a serious following amongst health experts. It has experienced redemption and now sits proudly on the shelves of health food stores.
Good versus Bad Coconut Oil
However, it's important to at least address the matter of good versus bad fats in order to understand why coconut oil is considered healthy in the first place. Not all saturated fats are evil, and the less processed the fat, the better.
The big misunderstanding with coconut oil and its former status as a "health threat" is due to a lack of in-depth study into the nature of good and bad fats.
The coconut oil that the health experts are talking about at the moment is the non-hydrogenated virgin version, meaning it's the oil squeezed straight out of the coconut. Very little processing -- if at all -- is involved, so this oil is now considered a healthier alternative to most overly-processed ones.
Virgin cold-pressed organic coconut oil is pure and offers the body a lot of health benefits, whether you use it for cooking, take it orally, or rub it into your skin. As well, cold pressed coconut oil is made from the raw nut without the application of heat; manufacturers claim this makes the oil taste more flavorful and fresh.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Considering how it was once considered as a proponent of higher cholesterol, this benefit comes as a surprise. But coconut oil really can lower cholesterol as it helps maintain proper thyroid function. This in turn helps the body maintain its low levels of bad cholesterol. Plus, coconut oil can turn cholesterol into pregnenolone, thereby lowering cholesterol levels.
Improves Your Immune System
Consumption of 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day increases the body's immune system and helps it fight off bacteria and viruses that can cause you to get sick.
Helps You lose Weight
As well, those 2 tablespoons per day of coconut oil helps maintain the body's balance, and it also contains fewer calories than most of its counterparts. Plus, it's easily converted into energy which boosts your metabolism and leaves you feeling wonderful all day long.
Works Well on Skin and Hair
Use coconut oil as a natural moisturizer all over your body. Apply it on your hair to eliminate dryness and dandruff, and restore shine and fullness to damaged hair. Apply it on your face as an anti-aging lotion. Apply it on your feet to keep them soft, especially in the summer if you like to go bare foot or where sandals a lot.
Ladies, check out this fun video for all the ways that you can use it on your body to help you look young and beautiful.
Choosing the Right Coconut Oil
Now here's a problem: not all coconut oils are created equal. There are so many brands on the market that you are probably quite confused already. What you need to do is to find out exactly how to choose the right coconut oil product that will give all the benefits stated above. Here are a few reminders to take note of before you head out to your health food store:
- Avoid anything hydrogenated, even partially hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process creates trans fats -- not healthy fats, so avoid as much as possible. Hydrogenated coconut oil negates its health effects, so skip it.
- Unrefined coconut oil is best. Though some refined oils do make use of a clean, natural process, it's difficult to differentiate these from the products of unscrupulous manufacturers who use lye and solvents for their process. To be safe, stick to unrefined coconut oil. These are the ones marked virgin or extra virgin.
- The extraction process matters. There are several processes of extraction, but you want the one that does not expose the coconut oil to too much heat. When you have too much heat, the oil becomes a little too nutty and can be overwhelming to the palate. The cold-pressed method is best since it doesn't expose the oil to as much heat as other processes can.
- Know the difference between food grade and cosmetic grade. Coconut oil is very versatile and it can be used in a variety of ways. Some people even use it as moisturizer or as a hair treatment, as discussed in the above video.
Coconut oil can be used for so many different things and choosing the right one makes a huge difference.
Oh, and here is one of my quick and favorite coconut oil recipes, with of course, dark chocolate.
- 2 cups organic coconut flakes
- 8 ounces dark chocolate – 70% or higher
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract or peppermint extract
Heat dark chocolate, coconut oil, honey, and cocoa powder in a sauce pan on medium to low heat.
Melt the chocolate until it is a smooth consistency. Stir constantly and do not let the chocolate burn.
Turn off the heat and mix in cinnamon, extract and coconut. Be sure to coat everything in the chocolate.
Drop small spoonful size chocolate dollops on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until cold. Remember to take them out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before serving or they will be too hard to bite in to.