Coconut oil. It’s all the rage as a super food but what I wanted to know is…why? What’s so ‘super’ about Coconut Oil? Why has it become so prevalent in today’s modern society when it’s been used for thousands of years in traditional cultures? Why the sudden turnaround from being unhealthy to being exceedingly healthy? So I started to investigate and as it turns out, it has multiple health benefits both inside and outside the body. I also found out that not all Coconut Oil products are the same. Some are fantastic for your body and others are a complete waste of time and money.
Firstly, let’s be honest, while we believe this is a new super food, it’s really been around for thousands of years and used by tropical cultures around the world. The fact that has made us pay close attention all of a sudden, is because scientists have realised that these traditional cultures are more often than not extremely healthy and have started to research the ways the traditional cultures are using Coconut Oil.
The research is vast and extensive and is way too much information for me to include, however, here is a condensed version of what I’ve found, including a company that impressed me so much that I decided to feature them in this blog.
Coconut oil has been stated in the past to be unhealthy due to its saturated fat content, however, new research has found that the saturated fat found in coconut oil is made up of medium chain triglycerides (medium chain fatty acids), not the usual long chain fatty acids. Medium chain fatty acids are metabolised differently within our bodies. Long chain fatty acids cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore cannot be used as fuel for the central nervous system and MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) can. They enter the liver from the digestive tract where they are (amongst other things) converted to Ketone bodies. These ketones have been known to reduce cognitive deterioration in those suffering from Alzheimer’s, to name just one.
It’s the same MCTs that have been shown to regulate the digestive system, improve thyroid function and increase energy expenditure (metabolism). This can assist in contributing to weight loss and also having an effect on your appetite, making you less hungry and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Coconut Oil has also been found to have a connection with Diabetes and improving pancreatic function.
In other studies Coconut Oil has been shown to also contain Lauric Acid which has antimicrobial properties and helps shield against ill health. It’s also been shown to eradicate bacteria, fungi and viruses, making it the perfect solution to apply on the skin and to ingest.
The Vitamin E content found in Coconut Oil is also essential for nourishing and repairing the skin. To summarise, there have been reports of coconut oil having the following benefits
*Improving and healing the skin
*Improving and strengthening hair and nails
*Improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Brain Function
*Improving symptoms of Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes
*Eradicating fungus, bacteria and viruses
*Helping with Thyroid health
So what are the differences between Coconut Oils?
Very simply, some of the Coconut Oils you find in the supermarket have been refined and hydrogenated. This removes most of the nutritional content of the oil and makes it unhealthy.
Let’s break this down further. What is the difference between refined and unrefined?
Refined Coconut Oil has had high heat applied. It’s also been bleached and deodorised. On most occasions chemical solvents have been used to extract the oil from the coconut meat and sodium hydroxide added to prolong shelf life.
Unrefined is also referred to as ‘Virgin’. It hasn’t been bleached, deodorised or had high heat applied to the extraction process, allowing the coconut oil to retain its nutrient content.
What is the difference between hydrogenated and non-hydrogenated?
Hydrogenated Coconut Oil has had hydrogen gas forced into the oil by using high pressure. This creates a more solid oil and allows the oil to have a higher melting point. When hydrogenated the saturated fats are converted into trans-fats, which are detrimental for your health. Hydrogenated Coconut Oil can increase your LDL (Bad Cholesterol) and decrease your HDL (good Cholesterol). This can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular disease. So by making this oil have a longer shelf life and by increasing its melting point, they have also created an unhealthy oil.
Whilst non-hydrogenated Coconut Oil can have a positive effect on your cholesterol, increasing your HDL and making your LDL benign, leading to a healthier cardiovascular system.
This is why it is extremely important when purchasing Coconut oil that you make sure it hasn’t been hydrogenated or refined.
When researching the different Coconut Oils, I came across Niugini Organics. They offer a uniquely single origin, 100% Raw Organic Virgin Coconut Oil that has been cold pressed and is cholesterol free. It has no preservatives or additives and is unrefined, unbleached and not deodorised.
This company is based in Papua New Guinea and has a small staff of 40 people who come from the surrounding villages.
This allows over 200 local families from the Tolai community of Kabaira, Napapar and Vunagogo Villages to thrive with a regular income.
Niugini Organics is also a consultative partner with Fairtrade International, determining the pricing structure and schedule for Coconuts in Oceania. This allows the local villages to receive a constant high price for their harvesting.
The Coconuts are collected by farmers who have Coconut Palms growing naturally on their land in the forest. They collect approximately 1000 Coconuts over 2-3 days per month. These Coconuts are collected from the ground, hence, they are allowed to grow to their proper maturity and naturally fall from the trees.
They are then husked on the spot. Being ‘wild harvested’ and having a low impact on the surrounding land, also means that this is a sustainable crop that is improving the biological systems of the forests they are grown in.
The Coconuts are collected from the neighbouring villages and then packed on site making not only travelling distance minimal but making sure the Coconuts are from a single origin only. No other Coconut from any other country or source are used.
During the extraction process, no heat has been used at all allowing the product to retain its 100% virgin goodness. With no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers used and with hygiene being maintained to an extremely high standard this beautiful raw product is also certified organic.
Niugini Organics is also passionate about recycling and reducing their footprint on the earth. They have created these fantastic reusable glass Kilner Jars for their oils, making it available after you have finished your oil to use them for storing other healthy ingredients or whatever your heart desires.
They also produce their own Coconut Oil Soaps. These soaps are also certified organic and do not contain any artificial colours or fragrances. The only ingredients in these soaps are the same Coconut oil they produce for the Kilner jars along with rainwater, lye and in a few of the bars essential oils (Lavender, Patchouli or Lemongrass). For more information on any of these products, please visit www.nuiginiorganics.com
So if you want a natural, extremely healthy addition to your daily regime, then look no further than Coconut Oil. As long as it is unrefined, non-hydrogenated and organic you can be sure that you are doing your body a favour. If it is refined or hydrogenated, my advice is to steer clear of those products.