July 20, 2016
Coconut is the 2016 flavor of the year according to Firmenich, a large Swiss flavor house, that praised coconut for its versatility of how it can be consumed, from the refreshing and nutrient rich ‘water’ inside young coconuts to the high fibre flesh which can be pulverized to make coconut milk or pressed for oil; the versatility of flavor: toasted, sweet, creamy, fatty, fresh; and how well coconut pairs with other great flavors, such as pineapple, lychee, vanilla and coffee.
Whilst coconut is on trend in restaurants, recipe blogs and packaged products the more I learn about the seemly endless benefits and uses for my jar of virgin coconut oil the more I’m in love with it. Coconut oil comes from pressing coconut meat to extract the oil. In a solid state coconut oil is white. Once the oil is above about 77 degrees F it melts into a clear liquid. It may look a little creamy at the bottom which is fine, variation in natural products is normal.
The majority of the fats in coconut oil are saturated but they are MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides, also called MCFAs) which are metabolized differently than longer chain fats and are easy for our body to use as energy and fuel. The three main fatty acids responsible for the benefits of coconut oil are:
Lauric Acid – This beneficial fat makes up 40% of the total fat composition. The body converts lauric acid to monolaurin, which is known for its antiviral, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Caprylic Acid – Another healthy fat with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Capric Acid – This converts to monocaprin in the body and has immune boosting properties.
In addition, coconut oil contains linoleic acid, oleic acid, phenolic acid, myristic acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and iron and unlike most other plant-based oils, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol.
Coconut oil is so versatile, from cooking to beauty treatments and natural remedies. Here are my 41 favorite uses for coconut oil list:
In The Kitchen With Coconut Oil
- Creamer For Your Coffee – replace your dairy creamer by blending your hot coffee with coconut oil for a rich, creamy, dairy-free, energy-boosting coffee that will keep you going all day.
- Coconut Chocolate Fondue – on a low heat (or in a double boiler) melt together a tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cups of dark, low sugar chocolate. Use cut strawberries, cherries, bananas, mandarin segments and apple slices as dipping fruit.
- Super Smoothies – add a tablespoon of coconut oil to any smoothie for healthy fats, energy and a smooth texture.
- Popcorn Topping – pop organic corn kernels in coconut oil and drizzle with a touch more and a sprinkle of sea salt
- Frying and Sautéing – vegies and eggs are delicious cooked up in a bit of coconut oil and the clean-up is a breeze! Coconut oil is great for cooking at a high heat because of its high smoke point. Many other oils like olive oil can oxidize when heated but because coconut oil is made up of healthy saturated fats it remains stable under high temperatures (I find coconut oil particularly good with bitter vegies such as kale)
- Baked Sweet Potatoes – put coconut oil on baked sweet potatoes in place of conventional butter and then sprinkle on cinnamon. Coconut oil is also great when making homemade sweet potato fries with rosemary and sea salt.
- Buttering Your Toast – try coconut oil on your sprouted grain bread instead of butter or margarine.
- Healthy Homemade Mayonnaise – in a blender, combine 4 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and ½ teaspoon mustard. Blend until combined. With blender still running, slowly add 1 cup liquid coconut oil and ½ cup olive oil to create an emulsion. If you add the oils too fast, the mayo will break. If this happens, all is not lost; add ½ tablespoon of tahini, and blend until smooth.
- Replace Unhealthy Fats When Baking – use the same amount as butter or vegetable oil that is called for in the recipe. Remember coconut oil will solidify when it’s cold so make sure those eggs and milk are at room temperature first. Use coconut oil to grease baking sheets and cake pans, and your baked goods will simply slide right out.
- Make Your Own Healthy Granola - Combine 3 cups of old-fashioned oats with handfuls of your favourite nuts and coconut flakes, 1/3 cup honey and a dash of cinnamon and salt. Melt 1/3 cup coconut oil and drizzle over, and then mix to combine. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes, and then rotate in the oven, and continue baking for another 5-7 minutes. Let it sit for half an hour on the counter to cool and break into clusters.
- Sports Drink Replacement – Coconut oil gives the body quick energy in the form of its quick acting MCT fats. Instead of relying on sugary processed drinks, try adding coconut oil and chia seeds to water with fresh fruit.
- Adding flavor - for example in this fantastic coconut salmon recipe
Beauty Treatments with Coconut Oil
- Skin Moisturizer – apply coconut oil to your face and body after showering to keep your skin soft and glowing. It’s great for smoothing out wrinkles, moisturizing cuticles, dry elbows and cracked heels and reducing cellulite, stretch marks and scars.
- Makeup Remover – Just a small dab of coconut oil will quickly liquefy eye makeup, making it easy to wipe off. Coconut oil is more gentle for sensitive eyes. An added bonus, it’s great for reducing wrinkles.
- Face Wash – Mix coconut oil with lavender and honey for a fabulous natural face wash.
- Lip Balm – Coconut oil is nourishing has a mild sun protection and most importantly, it’s free of toxic ingredients so safe to consume. You can use coconut oil on its own or combine 2 tablespoons with 2 tablespoons of beeswax and a tablespoon of shea butter. Warm slowly until melted and funnel into portable containers. You can naturally tint your balm with beetroot powder, cocoa powder, turmeric or cinnamon for a natural tint.
- Shaving Cream – If your skin is prone to irritation from shaving, try coconut oil in replacement of your shaving cream. The oil helps to soften skin so hair can easily grow through he follicle properly without becoming ingrown.
- Massage Oil – Coconut oil makes a great massage oil. Add a couple of drops of your lavender oil for a relaxing massage or peppermint oil for tired muscles.
- Healing Bath – Add ¼ cup Epsom salts, ¼ cup coconut oil and your favorite essential oil to a warm bath for a soothing and relaxing bath.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash – Mix equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda, and then add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Use daily to help whiten teeth, improve gum health, and freshen your breath. The antibiotic properties of coconut oil can destroy the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
- Deodorant – Coconut oil’s natural antibacterial properties help to keep body odor at bay. It is an excellent deodorant on its own, or when combined into a paste with baking soda and essential oils.
- Sulfate-Free Shampoo – Coconut can cleanse hair if used with apple cider vinegar, and because it doesn’t have any harsh chemicals in it. This method leaves your color intact for longer, prevents dullness and orange or yellow discoloration, and makes your hair soft and shiny.
- Hair Conditioner – Coconut oil can help strengthen hair while retaining moisture. Depending on the length and texture of your hair, you may need anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil as a conditioner. Warm in the palms of your hands, and starting at the ends, work the oil into the hair. It’s also a great de-tangler.
- Control Frizzy hair – You only need a tiny amount of coconut oil in your hands to control frizzy hair and split ends. Careful not to use too much or you’ll end up looking like a grease ball (I know this from experience!)
- Exfoliator – Combine 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 2 tablespoons of sugar to create a homemade body scrub that will help remove dry skin and leave your skin glowing.
- Makeup-free Highlighter – Try using coconut in place of makeup to add shine to your eye lids, lips and cheek bones. This gives you a natural makeup-free youthful glow.
- Makeup And Hair Brush Cleaner –Rub coconut oil on your makeup and hair brushes and leave them for a couple of hours in order to remove built up gunk and disinfect them. The oil even works well on delicate bristle brushes and hair easily slides off. There is no need to worry about any oil remaining on your brush since it’s good for your hair and skin.
Natural Remedies With Coconut Oil
- Baby Ointment and Diaper Rash Guard – rub a small amount of coconut oil on the affected area to sooth redness and rashes (of course see your paediatrician too!). My friend recently used virgin coconut oil on a rash on her baby's face with great results.
- Adult acne, eczema and psoriasis - coconut oil acts as a natural antibiotic, killing the bacteria that leads to breakouts. Try mixing coconut oil with tea tree oil and raw honey for added benefits and effectiveness. Coconut oil can be used as a cream to naturally heal dry and flaking skin for those with eczema and psoriasis.
- Vapor Rub – combine coconut oil with eucalyptus oil and rub the mixture on your chest to open up your airways and facilitate breathing.
- Anti-Fungal Cream – due to its antibiotic capabilities, coconut oil can be used topically on athletes foot and skin fungus.
- Minor scrapes and scratches – for small scrapes and scratches coconut oil can be used like an antibacterial cream and act as a barrier to allow them to heal.
- Cold Sore Treatment – the antiviral properties of coconut oil may help with speeding the healing time of cold sores. Try dabbing cold sores with coconut oil as soon as you feel them coming on and continue several times per day.
- Sunburn Remedy – coconut oil is often touted for being a natural sunscreen but at SPF4 it’s only mildly protective so we still use commercial sunscreen however coconut oil feels great on the skin when you get too much sun.
- Natural Throat Lozenge – take ½-1 teaspoon of coconut oil up to 3 times daily to ease a scratchy throat. You can combine coconut oil with a calming tea and honey for an extra soothing mix.
- Weight loss – for a long time coconut oil has had a bad rap for being high in saturated fat and calories, however more recent thinking is the fats in coconuts (MCTs) are actually good for us and leads to efficient energy burning and weight loss, particularly abdominal fat.
- Fight Inflammation – according to researchers, virgin coconut oil, prepared without chemicals or high-heat treatment exhibits an inhibitory effect on chronic inflammation.
- Prevent Infections – coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which provides for strong antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties which may help to prevent infections.
- Balance Cholesterol Levels – the healthy fats in coconut oil are now thought to increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol supporting heart health. This should theoretically lead to a reduce risk of heart disease over the long term.
- Constipation Relief – many people swear by coconut oil to help with chronic constipation and relieve bloating. Try taking one tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning or before bed in order stay regular.
- Reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms – recent work studying MCTs as potentially a therapeutic aid in Alzheimer’s patients is promising. Researchers speculate that the fatty acids in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketones which supply energy to the brain cells.
Organic extra virgin coconut oil vs refined coconut oil
To reap the many benefits of coconut oil, it is essential to choose an unrefined and chemical free product which is extracted from fresh coconut meat. Refined coconut oils are mass-produced, typically through a chemical distillation process from copra (previously dried coconut). The coconuts are often bleached and deodorized to make them look clean and bright white on the shelf. Not only do these refined oils typically have little flavor and lack the benefits of real virgin coconut oil but some are hydrogenated which turns this wonderfully healthy oil into a synthetic trans-fat. For this reason, avoid refined coconut oils as much as you possibly can. Instead choose a virgin coconut oil.
My recommendation is Heilala Virgin Coconut Oil. The entire production process for Heilala Virgin Coconut Oil takes just a few hours. Fresh, organically grown coconuts are husked and the coconut meat is removed using graters. The flesh is lightly dried above large wood-fired ovens for three hours, before it’s pressed hydraulically to extract the oil. Impurities are removed and buckets of oil are filtered to create crystal clear, virgin coconut oil. This cold pressed method results in a pure and natural, organic, unrefined and highly stable coconut oil.
Heilala Pure Virgin Coconut Oil is grown and processed in partnership with the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) and Oxfam New Zealand empowering grower communities through the development of industry. The coconuts are grown by certified organic farmers. It's allergen free, gluten free, sugar free, kosher, vegan, suitable for Halal certification, True Pacific certified and bottled in a glass jar.
Currently on special from The Kiwi Importer at $10 a jar plus shipping (shipping is free when combined with a purchase of $45 or more).
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute, nor does it intend to constitute medical diagnosis or treatment or other professional advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regime.