Coconut oil has been around for centuries and has been used for just as long by the people of India and island nations. Recently it has become a popular topic amongst doctors and nutritionists too.
In this article, I will look at its many benefits and uses. I will also be looking at MCT oil and the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Uses
1. Coconut oil for dry skin
Coconut oil can be used as a moisturiser and is free from all the harmful chemicals that are present in most commercially produced moisturizers. You can use it as a body lotion and as well as a lip balm. It contains fatty acids that your skin loves and absorbs easily.
Coconut oil is a great as a moisturiser for your face too. It helps to keep your skin smooth and supple and in this way it minimises wrinkles. It’s best to use it as a night cream because it might interfere with your cosmetics that you use during the day. Because it has antibacterial properties it can also be used to treat acne.
2. Coconut oil for eczema
Coconut oil can be used to treat eczema because it’s moisturising and free of chemicals that can irritate the skin. It also has antifungal properties so it’s great for other skin issues like ringworm too. Apply it to your affected skin a few times a day to treat and soothe the skin.
3. Coconut oil benefits for hair
Coconut oil is excellent for hair that is frizzy. All you need is a few drops, you don’t need any more than that. It’s also much better for your hair than other hair treatments that are full of chemicals and silicone which can dry out your hair instead of moisturising it as they claim to do. When used as a treatment it leaves your hair soft, shiny and conditioned.
4. Cooking with coconut oil
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with. It has a smoke point (the point at which oils start to burn and become rancid) of 177°C/350°F so it can be used to fry food. It’s delicious and full of healthy saturated fats that are good for your health.
5. Coconut oil weight loss
It can help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism. It also keeps you fuller for longer and reduces cravings which helps you to eat less. The fatty acids in coconut oil encourage your body to burn fat as energy and studies show that it can decrease belly fat, a problem area for many people.
6. Coconut oil and cholesterol
Coconut oil raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol by converting it into a less dangerous form. There are different types of LDL cholesterol and some are worse than others. By converting it to a better form of cholesterol it lessens the harmful effects.
7. Coconut oil pulling
Oil pulling is simply using oil almost like you would a mouthwash and has been done in India for many years. Because of its antibacterial properties, coconut oil is one of the best oils to do this with. It can help to prevent bad breath and tooth decay.
Put a spoon of the coconut oil in your mouth, it will then melt and you can swish it around like a mouthwash making sure the oil goes in between your teeth. Do this for about 20 to 45 minutes. Don’t gargle or swallow since it’s full of bacteria. Spit it out when you are done and rinse your mouth with water or with a mixture of baking soda and water.
8. Coconut oil for thyroid
It supports thyroid function and reduces inflammation. Inflammation often leads to thyroid problems. Those who are suffering from the symptoms of a low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) notice an improvement when using coconut oil since it increases the metabolism (weight gain is often a symptom and is caused by a slow metabolism) and providing energy (fatigue is another prominent symptom).
Best Edible Coconut Oil
The best form of coconut oil for consumption is organic extra virgin coconut oil. Firstly, when the oil is organic you can be assured that the way the coconuts are grown and harvested is done with care, without the use of pesticides and that the oil you will be getting is of the best quality.
Here are the best edible coconut oils:
Extra virgin coconut oil
The coconuts are opened within 2 days of being picked and the oil is extracted from the fresh meat of the coconut. There is no refining that takes place meaning the oil is never purified, bleached, deodorized or had any harmful or strong chemicals added to it.
There isn’t too much of a difference between extra virgin coconut oil and virgin coconut oil. They are both healthy choices. There are two different methods that are used to extract the oil, cold pressing and expeller pressing.
This is when the coconuts are first chilled in order to extract the oils. Throughout the extraction and bottling process, the oil is never heated above 50°C/120°F. This is the healthiest method since all the nutrients are still present in the oil and it retains a delicious coconut flavor and fragrance.
Here the coconut oil is quickly extracted using a machine. This process heats the oil up slightly through the heat will never exceed 100°C/210°F. This does cause some of the nutrients to be lost but most of the nutrients are still retained. Most of the flavor is also retained.
Stay away from refined coconut oil because these are often processed using high temperatures and chemicals. This process can convert the healthy fatty acids into trans fats which can cause heart disease and the oil is stripped of nutrients.
What is MCT oil
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. They are also found in coconut oil but in the smaller quantity. True MCT oils do not get processed in the liver which means they are converted into energy for your brain and body quicker. They are great for people on a ketogenic diet (low carbohydrate, high fat) and athletes.
Because they are so easily digested they are also great for those who struggle to digest fats such as those who have had their gallbladders removed. It was observed that MCT´s present in the coconut oil, were the source of direct energy. But it was observed, that one has to consume 10-15 tablespoon of coconut oil to have the real amount of MCT´s to fuel the body. So pure MCT oil was developed.
Difference between MCT and Coconut oil
Coconut oil is often said to contain MCT oil. While it is true that coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids, it is, in fact, not a true MCT oil. The difference lies in the type of fats that make up MCT oils and coconut oil and the way the body digests them.
One of the healthiest and most abundant fatty acids in coconut oil is the lauric acid which has a lot of health benefits. While it is called an MCT by scientists, it doesn’t actually behave the same way. Instead of bypassing the liver, it gets processed there which means it takes a lot longer to be broken down into energy for the body, unlike MCT oils which are fast acting.
There are four kinds of MCT oil found on the market. They all have different characteristics and are all present in coconut oil, but as you will see, lauric acid takes up more than half of its fatty acid profile.
C6, Caproic Acid
Though this particular fatty acid is converted into energy for the body the quickest it’s also one of the worst tasting ones. It can also cause irritation in your digestive system resulting in an upset stomach or burning throat. Most manufacturers usually try to lessen the amount of this oil in the blend of MCT oils.
If you are experiencing these symptoms or the oil tastes bad, there may be too much in the blend you are using.
C8, Caprylic Acid – The rarest ~6% of coconut oil
This fatty acid is full of benefits. It is the quickest to be converted into fuel for your brain, within a few minutes, in fact. It’s also quickly converted to be used as energy by the rest of your body. This reduces cravings and helps get rid of brain fog. It would take a lot of coconut oil (18 tablespoons) to match an actual MCT oil because it contains so little of it.
C10, Capric Acid – Around ~9% of coconut oil
This form of MCT oil is also rare though not as rare as C8 which often makes it cheaper. It does take slightly longer to convert to energy but is still very beneficial for your brain and body. To get the same amount of this fatty acid in coconut oil you would need 6 tablespoons.
C12, Lauric Acid: Around ~50+% of coconut oil:
As mentioned, though lauric acid has been called an MCT it doesn’t behave as a true MCT oil. This fatty acid is the slowest to be converted into energy for your body and brain. It is still full of health benefits such as being antimicrobial and providing energy for your body and brain to use, so don’t stop using coconut oil, but it shouldn’t be confused with MCT oil.
Buying MCT Oil
While buying MCT oil look for maximum C8 Caprylic acid. It could be 100% caprylic acid or a mixture of C8, C10, and C12. The one I uses is 100% C8 but is very expensive.
Make sure it comes from 100% coconut oil and not palm oil or any other oil.
Coconut oil is the healthiest cooking oil
It has many uses including being used for cooking, weight loss, thyroid problems, as a moisturising lotion, hair oil and for oil pulling.
Choose organic virgin coconut oil, preferably cold-pressed and organic as refined versions don’t retain all the health benefits and can even be harmful to your health.
Coconut oil can’t be used as an MCT oil despite often being classified as an MCT oil. The main type of fatty acid in coconut oil isn’t digested by the body in the same way as a true MCT oil.
- While buying MCT oil look for C8 over C10 and C12
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