not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aceite de Coco

I know, the coconut. It seems to be a running theme...and maybe I'll stick with it.

We are going on day 3 with no water in Adam's development where I am house-sitting and dog-sitting. Les said that he just tries to think of it as "camping"...but personally, I like to flush my poo and yes, occasionally I even enjoy a shower! Not to mention the growing pile of dishes in the sink... I got keen to the water being out atleast once a week so I started leaving full waterbottles around the house. I didn't plan on the water being out for 3 full days, and unfortunately didn't have any water left in the waterbottles for the Bialetti today! And this morning I was REALLY craving coffee. So, Suzie and I cruise on down the hill to Margarita's. I'd completely forgotten, but Margarita and her daughters make Aceite de Coco right there, so for 3mil (around 6 bucks) I got a nice sized bottle of coconut oil. There are a ton of ways to use coconut oil, from cooking to cosmetics to your personal health. I did some research and below is what I've found.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that the substances found in coconuts and coconut oil can prevent heart disease, fight infections, improve the absorption of nutrients, help in weight loss and stay healthy in ways that no other fat can match.

Although coconut oil does have a rather negative reputation for being the heaviest oil in terms of saturation percentage (92%), it isn't all that bad for you. All the saturated fats in this oil is natural and has a totally different structure to those that are found in other saturated fats. The difference lies in the fact that coconut oil is made up 50% of medium chain fatty acids while the others contain long chain fatty acids. These fatty acids penetrate cell membranes more quickly than long chains, without the need for special enzymes. Also, medium chain fatty acids are sent directly to the liver, without circulating through the blood stream like other fats. Here, they are immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as body fat.

Here are some health benefits of using coconut oil:

  • Hair: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil (as a conditioner after the shower) ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff or lice, even if your scalp is dry. The protein in the oil also helps to alleviate dandruff and to grow your hair long and strong.

  • Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins and can be used during winters to get rid of dry skin. It has a lot of antibacterial as well as antiseptic properties. Therefore, it helps to relieve inflammation, rashes, and blisters of the skin. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections.

  • Heart Diseases: Large quantity of saturated fat in coconut oil has led to the misconception that it is not good for the heart. However, contrary to the misconception, the 50% lauric acid in the coconut oil helps prevent various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. As in case of other vegetable oils, the saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels, and reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

  • Weight Loss: The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are good in many ways. They contain less energy and do not circulate in the blood stream like other fats but go straight to the liver and get converted into energy. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the enzymes and thyroid systems. These fatty acids are also known to speed up the body's metabolism, burning more calories.

  • Digestion: Consumption of coconut oil helps in improved digestion and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The anti microbial properties of the saturated fats present in coconut oil helps in dealing with various bacteria, fungi and parasites that cause indigestion.

  • Immunity: Coconut oil strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lauric acid is transformed into monolaurin by the body which is an immune boosting antiviral, antibacterial monoglyceride which the body uses to destroy viruses such as herpes, influenza and even HIV.

  • Infection: The lauric acid and caprylic acid in coconut oil make it uniquely effective in fighting all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Caprylic acid in particular is known to kill fungus and yeast. Coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, herpes, hepatitis, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, etc. Coconut oil is also used to promote healing. When applied to infections, the oil creates a chemical layer that protects from external irritants such as dust and bacteria. It is also known to expedite the repairing of damaged cells and tissues.

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