Cold pressed virgin coconut oil is the oil that is extracted through mechanical and natural means, without addition of chemicals, from fresh and mature kernel of coconut. This method of extraction ensures that no alteration or transformation of the oil occurs during extraction. Virgin coconut oil is now gaining popularity as a functional food, due to its vast range of health benefits. A functional food is a food that not only provides a good amount of healthy nutrients, but also has other health benefits and helps in reducing the risk of diseases.
Virgin coconut oil is prepared without the use of harsh processing techniques such as refining, hydrogenation, bleaching or deodorization. Virgin coconut oil extracted through the cold process retains many beneficial compounds present in coconut such as polyphenols.
As in the extraction of virgin coconut oil no heat is used, which helps to retain the biologically active agents which can provide nutraceutical benefits. A nutraceutical substance is one that has nutritional as well as pharmacological benefits. The biologically active substances found in virgin coconut oil are:
- Tocopherols are known antioxidants, and have a role in the prevention of certain chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer.
- Tocotrienols, much powerful antioxidants compared to Tocopherols, are effective in treating many diseases. They reduce blood clot formation (in the blood vessels) and are anti-tumor. It also helps to boost the immune system.
- Phytosterols, help to lower blood cholesterol levels, specifically the LDL cholesterol or the ”bad cholesterol”, These also help to reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, improve blood sugar among diabetics and helps to reduce inflammation among patients suffering from arthritis,
- Phospholipids, a major form of lipids, are the building blocks of all living cells. These ensure proper digestion and absorption of fatty foods. One of the most common phospholipids is lecithin commonly found in the brain, lung and spleen. Lecithin supplies choline, which is necessary for liver and brain function.
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are very effective for premature infants as MCT enriched diets increase fat and minerals absorption. Infants with diarrhea can tolerate diets rich in MCT.
MCT is not deposited as fat in the body but instead is burned into energy.
49% of the total fatty acid content in virgin coconut oil is lauric acid, (MCT), which has been shown to stimulate the activity of insulin.
One study suggested that extra virgin coconut oil’s impact on cholesterol may be similar to that of olive oil.
MCT from virgin coconut oil provides benefits to individuals suffering from short bowel syndrome, epilepsy and to those who have undergone bypass surgery.
MCTs from virgin coconut oil are good for people, who need high energy supply in their diet.
Virgin Coconut Oil uses in Cooking:
- When substituting virgin coconut oil for butter or vegetable shortening, only 25% of virgin coconut oil is required as virgin coconut oil has a higher percentage of fat solids.
- Sautéing vegetables with virgin coconut oil improves their flavor.
- Adding one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil to curries and sauces help to enhance their flavor.
Virgin coconut oil for Hair and Skin
Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for skin and hair.
- Using a small amount of virgin coconut oil, gently massage directly into the skin.
- Applying a coconut extract to human skin may enhance its protective functions, against environmental toxins.
- Applying virgin coconut oil regularly on skin boosts collagen and helps to reduce fine lines.
- Virgin coconut oil deeply nourishes, firms and tones the skin.
- Virgin coconut oil can be used as a skin soothing shaving cream for the legs, arms and the underarm, as it does not contain any harmful chemicals, and is inexpensive. It will make your skin look hydrated and shiny.
- To make dry or frizzy hair smooth and shiny, apply a small amount to the hair shaft and leave it overnight, and then wash out.
- Regular application of virgin coconut oil helps to rejuvenate the hair.
- Virgin coconut oil massage on the scalp just a few hours prior to head wash can help moisturize the scalp. Apply some virgin coconut oil to the scalp, comb the hair and just pile them into a loose bun. Place a soft towel or shower cap. Wash with a mild shampoo after a few hours for best results.
- Virgin coconut oil is free from harmful chemicals, which can damage the protein, ‘keratin”. Keratin is the protein, hair is made of. Coconut oil is capable of reducing protein loss.
- Virgin coconut oil can be used as a pre-wash hair protector, conditioner or hair mask immediately post-wash with a shampoo.
Although the beneficial compounds found in virgin coconut oil are in smaller amounts, their health, skin and hair benefits are unending. However, an overall healthful dietary pattern, rather than individual ingredients is beneficial in the quest for better health.
Ms Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Senior Nutritionist, Dietician and Nutrition Educator
Healthynudgez and Guiding Stars Open Learning Academy,
Under the banner of SS Guiding Stars Pvt. Ltd.
At Multano we are passionate about helping people make their lives healthier and happier. All information provided in this article is researched and authenticated by qualified experts. We are dedicated to providing reliable and accurate information to our readers. However, please use the information provided here with discretion. Any changes in medication/diet must be done with the approval of your treating medical practitioner/Dietician only.