This time last year, all we heard about was Essential Oils. They were amazing. They cured everything. They calmed you down and hyped you up. They were basically bottled miracles. This year, there’s a new oil in town: coconut oil. This new oil
has been stirring up the media and the healthcare field and has left us all with questions. Which brand is best? Is it going to make my house cleaner? Will it help me lose weight? To answer the questions, let’s start with the facts.
Fact 1: Coconut oil is the oil that is squeezed out of the coconut meat.
Think of a coconut like a steak. A steak has meat and fat. When you cook (or squeeze) the steak, the fat melts down to an oily or greasy state. The concept is the same. Essentially, coconut oil is coconut fat. Which brings us to fact #2.
Fact 2: Coconut oil is a fatty substance.
It’s actually one of the richest sources on the planet for saturated fat. 90% of coconut oil is saturated fat, which makes butter’s 64% saturated fat seem miniscule.
Now, let’s talk about the rumors. Without putting forth any effort, you can hear that coconut oil will make your hair shine, it will moisturize your skin, it will help you lose weight, and it will help manage blood glucose levels in diabetics. If you look a little harder, you’ll find claims that this ‘magical’ oil will even cure Alzheimer’s. While some of these seem outlandish, a few of them sound pretty reasonable. Let’s start with a simple one.
Rumor 1: Coconut oil makes your hair shine, cures split ends, and makes hair grow.
Looking back at what we know about coconut oil, it is, in fact, an oil. Any oily substance is going to help lock in moisture, which will in turn make hair shine and prevent it from splitting due to dryness. Will coconut oil make your hair grow? While it won’t cause your hair to actually become longer by stimulating growth at the roots–if it is preventing split ends and breakage, then your hair won’t lose it’s ends. This could add length and make it seem like coconut oil is making your hair grow, with the added bonus of a nice shine.
Rumor 2: Coconut oil gives you glowing, beautiful skin.
Again, this is an oil we’re talking about. It will absolutely make your skin moist and smooth to the touch. Moist skin is more flexible than dry skin (just like moist paper bends rather than tears/folds), so the moisture that coconut oil holds in your skin could help prevent new wrinkles, but the likelihood of it erasing what’s already there is little to none.
Now that we know that coconut oil can be useful (if not miraculous) in the beauty department, which brand is best? In the grocery store, we see things like refined and unrefined, virgin, and extra virgin. There are so many options. How are we supposed to choose?! Generally refined oils are cheaper than unrefined oils, and they don’t have a flavor or a smell. They aren’t made from fresh coconuts, but rather dried ones, Refined oils are also bleached and deodorized using chemicals. Unrefined oils will have a light taste and smell, and are made from fresh coconuts. As a general rule, the less a food is processed, the better it will be for us (organic bananas vs. Twinkies), so an unrefined coconut oil is going to be the healthiest way to go. Okay back to the rumors.
Rumor 3: Coconut oil will help you lose weight.
Let’s review what we know. Coconut oil is an extremely fatty substance: it’s fattier than butter. There’s more to it, though. The particular kind of fat in coconut oil (saturated fat) is commonly found in meats, lard, butter, cheese, and whole dairy products. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to 5%-6% of your daily calories. So if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, only 120 of them should come from saturated fat. That comes up to about 13 grams (3 teaspoons) of coconut oil.
Replacing your other saturated fats with coconut oil could inherently cut out extra sugars and carbohydrates associated with those other foods that aren’t present in coconut oil. In that manner, eating coconut oil could assist with weight loss, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise of course!
Rumor 4: Coconut oil will cure Alzheimer’s.
Okay let’s dig into some chemistry & biology for a second. Don’t panic! I’ll make it as painless as I possibly can. Alzheimer’s is caused by the demyelination (break down of myelin) on the neurons in your brain. Myelin is a fatty substance that coats the outside of neurons to help the nervous impulses fire and travel to where they need to go, much like the insulation on electrical wires. When this fatty coating starts to break down, it causes misfires and loss of signals in the brain. This leads to loss of mental and physical abilities, and eventually, death.
The medical community is actively researching the cause of this myelin breakdown, but nothing concrete has been decided yet. There are suspicions that it may be linked to many things, including heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. As far as coconut oil goes, the claim is that high levels of saturated fats can help prevent the breakdown of the myelin and prevent new destruction by raising the insulin and saturated fat levels in the body.
Coconut oil makes an excellent hair conditioner, lotion, and makes for tasty popcorn (recipe here: http://thecoconutmama.com/coconut-oil-popcorn/). Keep on putting it in your hair, rubbing it on your skin, and adding it to your snacks. Please consult your doctor before replacing any pharmaceutical therapies with coconut oil! If coconut loses it’s luster, let us know at ProHealth. We’ll soon be launching our very own beauty & weight loss services and would love to help you reach your goals!
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