Focus on Health: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a very diverse and luscious oil with many uses. The Hawaiians have relied on it generation upon generation, for internal health, skin, and hair. The Coconut in everyday Hawaiian care has always been used "holistically"...Meaning, the mind, body and spirit being nurtured and cared for as one. In this page, we will define and describe this oil and it's uses and treatments.

Coco oil, a fat, is a medium-chain triglyceride, consisting of 90% saturated fat. It contains seven different fatty acids, some of these in which are: 44.5% Lauric Acid, 16.8% Myristic Acid, 8% Caprylic Acid, and 8.3% Palmitic Acid. There is also 6% Monounsaturated fatty acid, Oleic Acid, and 2% Polyunsaturated fatty acid, Linoleic Acid.

Unrefined coco oil melts at 24-25°C (76°F) and smokes at 170°C (350°F),[3]. However, refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point of 232°C (450°F).

Because of it's high Saturated fat content, coco oil does not spoil or rot that easily-It has a 3-5 year stable shelf life. It is best stored in solid form, however, below 24.5°C [76°F].

Four Ways of Processing Coconuts into Oil

The four types of coco oil available are: "Virgin", "Refined, Bleached, Deodorized [RBD]", "Fractionated", and "Hydrogenated".

Virgin coconut oil is derived from fresh coconuts.

Coco Oil marketed as "virgin" are produced one of the following ways:

1. Quick drying of fresh coconut meat which is then used to press out the oil.

2. Wet-milling (coconut milk). Oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat. "Coconut milk" is expressed first by pressing. The oil is then further separated from the water. Ways to separate the oil from the water include boiling, refrigerating, fermenting, use of enzymes, and mechanical centrifuge.

3. Wet-milling (direct micro expelling). The oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat after the adjustment of the water content, then the pressing of the coconut flesh results in the direct extraction of free-flowing oil.

RBD is refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil. The oil is derived from dried coconut meat otherwise known as Copra. Copra can be made by kiln drying, sun drying or smoke drying. . The unrefined oil extracted from copra, ("crude coconut oil") is not suitable for consumption.

A fraction of the whole oil, in which most of the long-chain triglycerides are removed so that only saturated fats remain, is referred to as "Fractionated Coconut Oil." It may also known as "caprylic/capric triglyceride" or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil because mostly the medium-chain triglycerides caprylic and capric acid are left in the oil.

Fractionated Oil is completely saturated, and is even more heat stable than other forms of coconut oil. Fractionated Coco Oil also never spoils.

Hydrogenated oil is often fully or partially hydrogenated(oil that has been added to Hydrogen Molecules) to increase it's melting point in warmer temperatures. This doubles or triples the amount of saturated fats present in the oil, and produces harmful trans-fats. Avoid this type of oil from any source ie: soy, corn, olive and so on.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of coco oil, when taken internally, are phenomenal. From strengthening the heart, to helping squelch yeast infections, no other fat can compare to the likes of this oil. It is well known that saturated fat can clog up your arteries and harm your heart, so you would think that this oil would have a bad rap. This is not true! Consumption of Virgin Coco Oil reduces the LDL cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease, while raising beneficial HDL levels.

Consuming Virgin Coco Oil has also been shown to kill bodily strains of Candida. It is very effective in killing some strains of Candida, which cause the condition candidiasis in humans. You should never neglect getting professional medical treatment if you think you have a yeast infection.

This also means good news for those suffering from Hypothyroidism! Consumption of Virgin Coco Oil nourishes under active thyroids. As a matter of fact, more women have an under active thyroid than previously thought. Do you suffer from chills, slightly below normal bodily temperature, sluggishness, brittle nails, dry skin, dull hair, and slow metabolism? Chances are, you have an under active thyroid. However, your thyroid is probably under active only part of the time. Many women go see a health specialist to get their thyroid checked, only to see that according to the test, their thyroid hormone levels were normal.

"How could my thyroid be irregular only part of the time?" you might ask...It is largely due to what you consume in your diet in conjunction with having recessive genetics for thyroid trouble. You see, our body needs small amounts of saturated fats to nourish the thyroid gland. Naturally, we keep our diet low in saturated fats to keep the weight off and our heart healthy. Also, many women consume soy, and soy decreases your natural level of thyroid hormone. Soy oil (vegetable oil) and peanut butter contains goitrogens, that block your thyroid from getting necessary levels of iodine.

All in All, it is a great way to start off your morning with consuming three teaspoons or tablespoons (Listen to your body, whichever you prefer) of Virgin Coco oil. Give or take a couple of weeks, and see the results for yourself. It will boost your energy levels and metabolism. Give it a try!

Coconut as an Ancient Beauty Secret

Well, lets move on to the next healing aspect that this oil has for the body-Coco Oil for Skin and Beauty purposes!

When you go out in the sun or in the salty ocean (or any body of water for that matter) it is always good to protect your hair and skin. Polynesians, for thousands of years, have relied on coconut oil to nourish, moisturize, and beautify their skin and hair.

Coco oil has a small molecular structure, so that your body absorbs it very easily. When and if you have ever been to these islands, you will notice that the Hawaiian Wahines (women) have thick, lush strong shiny hair. This is because they put either coconut oil or "Monoi" (A Tahitian Holistic blend of coconut oil and Tiare Oil[Tahitian Gardenia])in the ends of their hair after they wash and also before they bathe in the ocean they slather it throughout their hair.

It is a good idea for women with long hair to apply coconut oil just to the ends of their hair, and then put a plastic shower cap on overnight for a deep conditioning treatment. One should also apply it to their hair before they go swimming to protect it from tangling and the elements.

The Hawaiians also have vibrant, glowing skin due to their regular use of this oil. Many people have sung the praises of applying coconut oil on a regular basis for many years that have youthful, resilient, healthy skin. It also combats the effects of premature aging due to sun exposure.

If you don't mind the smell, it is always good to apply coconut oil to your skin after you bathe as a moisturizer. Another way to receive the beautifying treatment of coconut oil is to apply it all over your skin, and to the ends of your hair, right before you take a long warm soak in the bathtub.

There is a beauty product that is available here in Hawaii, used by the Wahines, although it is deeply rooted in Tahitian culture (Many Hawaiians trace their ancestry back to Tahiti) is Monoi Oil. The National Flower of Tahiti, (Gardenia tahitensis), from the Rubiaceae family, the Tahitian Gardenia, is pressed for it's nurturing and fragrant oils and added to refined coco oil to make Monoi. It is a great scented moisturizer, hair conditioner and dark tanning oil.

Lastly, let's not forget what we all know coconut oil for...The original Hawaiian deep, dark tanning secret!

To leave our page about Coconut Oil and go to our page on Spirulina, follow this link.