The coconut doubles up as food plus medicine, besides being an auspicious and compulsory part of every religious event in Indian culture.
Rightfully called the “Tree of Life” the coconut is a powerhouse of nutrition with its juice, its milk, oil and kernel.
Here is a common sight in street corners – the tender coconut water vendor.
Relished and respected, the coconut is rich in fiber, vitamin and minerals. But its health benefits go beyond nutrition. The healing power of coconut oil exceeds those of any other dietary oil. Coconut oil is revered in traditional medicine. In ayurvedic medicine, coconut is extensively used.
There is a false assumption that coconut oil is not healthy as it is high in saturated fat but research shows that the fat in coconut oil is unique and healthy. In fact, the list of health benefits of coconut oil is very long as it has a positive impact on almost every disease and health issue.
The direct health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength.
But what makes the coconut so richly healthy? It contains lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which give the oil its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing properties.
The health benefits of coconut oil
This is a no-brainer. I doubt if there is a single household in India that does not have a bottle of coconut oil. It is one of the best sources of natural nutrition for healthy hair growth. Regularly massaging the scalp with coconut oil keeps it free from dandruff, lice and lice eggs (ugh!) even if you happen to have dry hair. It is also a great conditioner and mends damaged hair. Most hair care oils and conditioners have it as an ingredient.
Coconut oil soothes and relieves stress. Feel the fatigue? Gently massage your scalp with it to relax.
Coconut oil is good on your skin as a moisturizer and to keep it supple and soft. It has anti-aging properties and keeps wrinkles and sagging skin at bay. Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and other skin infections can be treated with coconut oil. Chances are the soap, lotion or cream you use has coconut oil in it.
Slows the aging process
With its antioxidant properties, coconut oil prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases.
Coconut oil is considered heart-healthy. Its lauric acid content (50%) prevents high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Unlike other vegetable oils, coconut oil’s saturated fats are not harmful. It does not increase your LDL levels. It also strengthens your arteries and helps prevent atherosclerosis.
Coconut oil is effective in enabling weight loss with its short and medium-chain fatty acids that dissolve excess weight. It is easy to digest, speeds up the body’s metabolism and minimizes the stress on our pancreas, making us burn more energy resulting in weight loss. Athletes use coconut oil for its low calorie content as it easily converts into energy and prevents fat formation in the heart and arteries. This improves performance and stamina.
Used in cooking, coconut oil improves digestion and prevents stomach and digestion related problems. It relieves IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). With its microbial properties, coconut oil kills bacteria, fungi, and parasites etc. that result in indigestion. It also helps improving the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Coconut oil strengthens the immune system with its antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid which are antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral. This protects against diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV.
When coconut oil is applied on a skin infection, and it creates a protective layer from dust, air, bacteria and fungi. It speeds up the healing and repairs tissue damage. The antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties of coconut oil protect from viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. Coconut oil kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, – the list is endless.
Coconut oil helps prevent liver disease and keeps the liver healthy by minimizing its workload and arresting the accumulation of fat.
Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases and dissolves kidney stones.
Coconut oil controls blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps the body use blood glucose effectively, helping prevent and treat diabetes.
Stronger teeth and bones
As coconut oil helps better mineral absorption, it means healthier bones and prevention of osteoporosis. It also means stronger teeth and protection from tooth decay.
Enough reasons to enjoy coconut, coconut cookies, coconut milk in your dishes, a massage with coconut oil …a pina colada eh?