The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Nearly one-third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy.
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.
Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits.
Coconut oil helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, contributing to overall health. It contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of lauric acid.
Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome and candida. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that cause indigestion.
Coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and by those who are dieting. Coconut oil contains fewer calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, reducing stress on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzyme systems. It increases the body metabolism, helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose.
Some of the most recent research has come from people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, with reports of people improving or even reversing the effects of Alzheimer's by using coconut oil. Alzheimer’s is now seen as a type 3 form of diabetes, and for years there have been positive results from people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in using coconut oil.
Coconut can be used as a beauty product. It has been shown to reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It supports the natural chemical balance of the skin, softens skin, helps relieve dryness and flaking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots, and provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Used as a hair product, coconut oil provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair and providing a shiny complexion. When applied to the scalp, coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner, and is used in many hair and skin products on the market.
With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, coconut oil was a favorite in the baking industry. But a negative campaign against saturated fats in general, and coconut oil in particular, led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy. These hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids.
While some people accuse coconut oil of being a “fad,” the fact is that it has been consumed for thousands of years, and around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.