Everything you need to know about… Coconut Oil
Coconut oil comes from the nut (also known as the fruit) of the coconut palm. It’s high in saturated fats (the good kind) and has some great uses inside and outside of the kitchen.
Not only is coconut oil a flavoursome oil for cooking (especially when cooking Asian-inspired meals) it’s also a great oil for baking and is a popular vegan-friendly substitute in desserts, raw and baked.
There are two main kinds of coconut oil, refined & unrefined.
Unrefined Coconut Oil (also known as virgin or extra virgin coconut oil) is made with coconut meat that has been pressed while still fresh to extract the oil. It has a smoke point of approximately 177 degrees making it better for baking and topical application (for example in beauty products).
Refined Coconut Oil is made from dried coconut meat, which is pressed to extract the oil. This oil is then filtered through clay to remove impurities and bacteria. This process also removes most of the scent and coconut flavour from the oil making it a better oil for general use. Because of its higher smoke point at approximately 204 degrees, it is a better oil for frying or cooking at high heat.
So, now that we know about the two main types of coconut oil and their preferred uses in the kitchen, what other wonderful uses are there for coconut oil? Read below to find out more.
Coconut oil as a beauty all-rounder:
Did you know that coconut oil is an incredibly popular beauty product? Because it is so high in saturated fats and fatty acids it makes an amazing natural moisturizer, seeping into the skin and making it appear smoother and softer.
Coconut oil can improve the moisture content of the skin by increasing lipids in the skin like natural ceramides, fatty acids, squalene, and triglycerides. Lipids act as a protective barrier to the skin, protecting it from environmental factors like dirt, air pollution, and other environmental elements like sun damage. It encourages hydration and makes a highly effective makeup remover. Melting away stubborn make-up like mascara with ease. Got dry lips? No worries, just rub a little coconut oil into them.
Most skin experts would recommend using a cold pressed (not extracted using heat) unrefined oil as it is said to maintain a higher level of natural nutrients and antioxidants.
Couple some coconut oil with some dried coffee grounds, it makes an amazing exfoliant for the body and will leave your skin feeling supple and smooth, just don’t use it on your face.
Coconut oil and dental health:
Have you heard of oil pulling? Before the invention of toothpaste, there was oil pulling. Used for thousands of years oil pulling involves swishing the oil around the mouth to remove and reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth. The oil essentially captures the bacteria which is then dissolved in the oil. While you can use pretty much any oil for the process of “pulling” coconut oil is the clear favourite because of its naturally appealing flavour and its high amounts of antimicrobial lauric acid. The lauric acid in coconut oil reacts with saliva to create a substance that may prevent or reduce gum inflammation (gingivitis), prevent cavities, and reduce plaque build-up.
Coconut oil as a health tonic:
Whilst you will find lots of anecdotal evidence online discussing the many benefits of ingesting coconut oil as a daily health tonic, experts are still yet to determine if the ingestion of coconut oil daily has any measurable health benefits. The internet will have you believe that coconut oil is a magic cure aiding in everything from the reduction of unwanted weight to mental exhaustion. Whilst there are many great properties of coconut oil it’s important to remember that it is still high in saturated fat and should only be consumed (like most things) in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. As with everything you read on the internet, consult with your medical professional before making any decisions that may have an impact on your health and overall well-being.