Coconut oil is an edible vegetable oil that has been consumed in tropical countries for literally thousands of years. Its uses range from nutrition to body care, to internal and external health.
Certified organically grown and harvested coconuts contain no chemical toxins to interfere with their natural goodness. The process of cold pressing virgin coconut oil retains its maximum nutritional benefits.
The result is a rich dietary source of healthy saturated fats.
There are myriad different ways to consume coconut oil.
It can be used to replace any other vegetable oil, as well as butter, in cooking and baking to supply a smooth buttery taste and subtle aroma.
As a stir frying and deep frying oil, it copes well with high heat and is especially delicious in thai and other asian stir fries.
Coconut oil is also popular in raw foods such as raw cheesecakes. In New Zealand's climate, the oil is generally solid at or below room temperature (although it will melt as the temperature climbs). This makes is an excellent way to achieve the creamy consistency you desire, while delivering a healthy energy boost.
You can also use coconut oil as a preservative, for example by coating eggs with a thin layer of melted (but not hot) oil.
The silky texture of this oil and the fact that it's solid in cool to warm room temperatures makes it an ideal base for soaps and other skin care.
It can also be applied directly to your skin for a nourishing boost or to your hair to tame frizz and add shine, without chemical interference.
For those with gluten intolerance, coconut oil based soap or skincare can provide a gluten free option to apply to the skin.
Coconut oil contains 92% saturated fats (in the form of triglycerides), 6% monounsaturated fats and 2% polyunsaturated fats.2
The fat in coconut oil is predominantly of the medium-chain fatty acid variety and it plays an important role in energy production as well as in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
Most saturated fats (whether from animal or plant origin) are composed of long chain triglycerides.3 Coconut oil is unique in that it contains predominately medium chain triglycerides, which are absorbed and utilised very differently in the body than are long chain triglycerides.
While coconut oil does contain four long chain fatty acids (palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid), these represent less than 20% of the total fatty acid content.
When we consume medium chain fatty acids, they are readily absorbed intact across the gut wall, directly enter our bloodstream and thereafter enter the liver for metabolism.4 This means that coconut oil can be quickly absorbed and utilised by the body to provide a rapid source of energy.3
The process of metabolising long chain triglycerides is completely different. In order for our bodies to use them, the fatty chains need to be separated from the glycerol backbone by a digestive enzyme called lipase, which allows the fats to form micelles. The micelles are then absorbed and reattached to glycerol, and thereafter the triglycerides migrate through the lymphatic system and enter our bloodstream.
Another advantage of medium chain triglycerides is that they are able to enter the mitochondria (the energy power houses inside our cells) without the need for the carnitine transport system which is required for long chain triglyceride absorption.
Because medium chain triglycerides put little strain on the digestive system and are readily absorbed, coconut oil is often added to infant formulas and nutritional drinks for athletes.3
Medium chain triglycerides are also lower in calories, with one gram providing 8.3 calories versus 9.2 calories per gram for long chain triglycerides.
While the essential fatty acid content of coconut oil is low (approximately 2%), research has shown that medium chain triglycerides and essential fatty acids work synergistically, which can improve their utilisation within the body by as much as 100%.
Fatty Acid Percentage
Medium chain fatty acid
Studies have shown that lauric acid provides support for healthy cholesterol levels.
Medium chain triglycerides such as lauric acid have also demonstrated natural antibacterial properties.6
Medium chain fatty acid
Myristic acid acts as a signalling protein and is involved in numerous physiological reactions and regulations within the body.
Short chain fatty acid
Based on animal studies, caprylic acid from coconut oil helps support healthy cholesterol levels.
Medium chain fatty acid
Capric acid has demonstrated natural antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Waimarino Natural Health Ltd coconut oil
Waimarino Natural Health Ltd sources its organic coconut oil direct from Sri Lanka. The virgin coconut oil is made from the fresh coconut kernel and is dried in temperature controlled conditions not exceeding 40° Celsius.
The oil is then expressed by a cold-press technique.
This type of extraction process means that end product still contains the natural polyphenolic antioxidants and for this reason it is considered superior to coconut oil derived from copra or dried coconut flesh.
Unlike soybean or corn oil, coconut oil does not contain any trans fats, which are now considered more harmful than saturated fats. Trans fats (also known as hydrogenated fats) are liquid fats made into solid fats by the addition of hydrogen atoms.
Because coconut oil is free of trans fats, it can be safely stored in clear bottles without degradation. Oil may be keep un-refrigerated for up to 3 months after opening.
Thanks to drFact for the Coconut oil infographic.