Coconut oil has been an indispensable feature in most Indian households for many years, most commonly used as a beauty solution passed on from generation to generation. However, this versatile fruit has been rightly hailed as nature’s superfood due to its myriad health benefits.
Virgin coconut oil is obtained from the fresh, matured kernel of the coconut by natural means, without the use of heat. Using the cold pressing technique of extraction, cold pressed virgin coconut oil has a good taste and smell and essentially preserves the natural goodness of the oil, says nutritionist Sheryl Salis.
What health benefits does virgin coconut oil possess?
Improves the immune system:
The important Medium Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA’s) present in coconut oil are Lauric acid, Caprylic acid and Capric acid, together they help improve the immune system of the body. Lauric acid and its monoglyceride are effective in destroying a wide variety of lipid-coated bacteria by disintegrating their lipid membranes. Monolaurin functions as an anti-virus that targets eloped viruses by dissolving the protective lipids surrounding it.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ayush Ministry has identified certain self-care guidelines which include oil pulling as an immune boosting measure. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic detoxification therapy that includes swishing a spoonful of oil in the mouth for about 5 minutes. Using cold pressed virgin coconut oil for oil pulling helps get rid of bacteria in the mouth as the technique aids in overall health and well-being.
Aids in weight management:
Virgin coconut oil is an oil source containing a high concentration of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which have shown beneficial effects on weight management. Research suggests that regular consumption of virgin coconut oil reduces food cravings and thereby helps trim abdominal fat, this in turn aids in weight management.
The unique combination of fatty acids i.e. MCFAs have a powerful effect on metabolism, they are easy to absorb and pass through the blood and into the liver which is then converted into energy. The oil turns into monolaurin which is an anti-microbial agent, regulating bad bacteria and supports good bacteria in the gut.
Coconut oil is a well-established beauty product, used for many years. However, in recent time, health and fitness advocates have perpetuated that the oil has several health benefits that can be easily integrated in the daily diet as well. Virgin coconut oil is vegan-friendly and is suitable for all types of cooking, sautéing, baking and stir frying. It can also be used as a base oil to coat vegetables while cooking or to simply dress salads.
Fitness enthusiasts also recommend adding coconut oil to morning shakes, smoothies and even coffee! The oil is also considered as a substitute for butter and other oils in baking, this is an added health booster while preparing vegan desserts at home. Since cold pressed virgin coconut oil has a light and smooth texture it can be used for direct consumption as well, 2 spoons of virgin coconut oil every morning gives you a healthy start to the day and promotes over health and well-being in the long run.
Haircare with Coconut Oil
A well-established fact, coconut oil is long known for its health properties and also can be used for topical application- one that nourishes our hair! With anti-microbial properties, coconut oil contains lauric acid and fatty acids that helps in strengthening the hair, and conditions the scalp. A coconut oil massage stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles which assist in hair growth naturally.
In our country, coconut oil has been used over generations for scalp oiling which comprises:
1. Heating the oil mildly and dab it on the scalp with your fingertips or a small cotton ball. Massage the scalp after application
2. Once you have oiled the scalp, you may choose to oil the hair from roots to the ends
3. Coconut oil can be kept on the hair overnight or can be washed off 30 minutes after applying
It is an inexpensive hair treatment that restores the hair’s moisture and nourishes the hair and scalp, provides relief for an itchy scalp while making lifeless hair look shiny, soft and conditioned.
A natural skin moisturizer
Coconut oil has been a popular ingredient in many beauty products and is a staple for many beauty conscious women across the world. Virgin coconut oil extracted using cold pressing technique has a mild aroma and is rich in medium chain fatty acids making it an effective moisturizer for the face and body. It is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal which also helps make the skin smooth. It keeps the skin hydrated and helps to improve skin elasticity. Coconut oil is often used as base oil in skincare products such as lotions, creams and body butters. It is mild yet effective to soften and soothe the skin. Coconut oil also acts as a makeup remover especially for removing waterproof makeup. Simply apply it on the face as a cleanser or use a cotton pad to swipe away makeup residue.
Overall, virgin coconut oil is a multi-purpose oil that serves the needs of health and beauty conscious consumers. A definite staple in every house!
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