Coconut Oil: Explore the History & Limitless Use of Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil: Explore the History & Limitless Use of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil or copra oil, everyone knows it or at least heard of it. Today, you can’t go to every grocery store without ever running across it. However, this trend has received both positive and negative responses from medical experts, especially when it comes to claims that it helps protect you against conditions like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and helps you lose weight.

But this article is not here to prove or disprove that. This article explores the seemingly limitless uses of Coconut oil to help you decide whether it’s time for you to sign up for an oil change.
Photographer: Tijana Drndarski | Source: Unsplash

The History of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has gained its generous share of popularity these days. But when and where did this trend begin?

It dates back as early as 4000 years. Since then, applications of the fruits of the coconut palm concerning its edible and healing properties showed positive results. Early on, even the coconut tree applications had a positive impact on all aspects of humankind. However, of all parts of the coconut tree, it’s the fruit, coconut flesh, water, milk, and oil that was seen to be the coconut’s most prized possession.

The use of Coconut oil was first marked in Central America, South America, and some Indian subcontinents. Early humans and explorers in the Pacific regions attested that it had been part and parcel of their everyday living. During World War II, coconuts saved many soldiers’ lives as it served as their saline drip. After World War II, the coconut oil was commercialized and sold in England and the USA as ‘margarine’ and ‘coconut butter.’

84% Saturated Fat

When you break down coconut oil’s composition, it is made of 84% saturated fat. In comparison, olive oil has 14% saturated fat, while butter has 63%. Its high saturated fat content is one of the main reasons why copra oil gained a negative reputation from several health officials. But is it that bad?

It may not be that bad. Coconut oil’s saturated fat is mostly made up of medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs is shown to a different effect on your body than the longer-chain fats found in dairy, liquid vegetable oils, and other fatty meats.

Coconut Oil Nutrition Facts

Ever wondered about the nutrient content for one tablespoon serving of copra oil? The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified them to be:

Calories 121
Protein 0 grams (g)
Fat 13.5 g
Saturated fat 11.2 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Sugar 0 g

Suppose you’re familiar with the nutrition content of other oils. In that case, you will find that it has almost the same nutritional content as copra oil. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 g of fat.

Limitless Uses of Coconut Oil

But despite the adverse claims of coconut oil through the years, it is still widely known for its seemingly limitless uses and benefits:

1. Protects you from the Sun’s U.V. Rays

We all know that the sun’s ultraviolet (U.V.) rays harm your skin. In fact, the sun’s U.V. rays are shown to raise your risk of getting wrinkles and brown spots and may sometimes lead to developing skin cancer. It is for this reason where your coconut oil may come in handy. According to research, copra oil blocks about 20% of the sun’s harmful U.V. rays.

However, it is noteworthy that copra oil is still not at par with your conventional sunscreen, which blocks about 90% of U.V. rays. Another study also suggested that it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least seven, which is still way lower than the minimum requirement in some countries.

In sum, you can apply coconut oil to your skin to protect you from the sun. However, it can’t be all you can rely on to ensure your skin is protected from the harmful effects of the sun’s U.V. rays.

2. Increases your Metabolism

Copra oil is made of fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fatty acids are absorbed in your body faster and help increase the calories you burn. Several controlled studies show that MCTs can considerably enhance your metabolic rate, at least for the short-term.

Another study also found that 15-30 grams of MCTs can increase the number of calories you can burn by at least 120 over 24 hours.

3. Cooks Safely at High Temperatures

Coconut oil contains around 84-87% saturated fat. This source of dispute makes it one of the best characteristics for perfect high-heat cooking and frying. Unlike the polyunsaturated fatty acids present in vegetable oils, saturated fats preserve their structure when subjected to high temperatures, making it your perfect partner in cooking.

On the other hand, other oils like corn and safflower may have harmful effects on your health because they are transformed into toxic compounds when heated. This unique characteristic makes copra oil a safer substitute for high-temperature cooking.

4. Improves Your Dental Health

Coconut oil can also be your great source of weapon against the harmful bacteria found in your mouth, including Streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans is the kind of bacteria that causes dental plaque, gum disease, and tooth decay in your mouth.

One study found that oil pulling– the act of swishing with copra oil for 10 minutes, reduces harmful bacteria on your mouth as effectively as cleansing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. Another study also found that regular oil pulling reduces plaque and inflammation in teenagers, especially those with inflamed gums (gingivitis).

5. Makes Healthy Mayonnaise

Most commercial mayonnaise you see on grocery stores contain added sugar and soybeans oil. But you can easily make your mayo healthier with either coconut oil or olive oil. Browse through some easy recipes to make a healthy mayonnaise with copra oil.

6. Moisturizes Your Skin

Coconut oil also makes for a perfect moisturizer for your arms, legs, and elbows. If you have dry skin, you can apply it on your face to soften and moisturize it. However, if you have naturally oily skin, applying it may not be recommendable. It may trigger a pimple breakout.

Copra oil can also help repair your cracked heels. You can do this by applying a thin coat to your heels before bedtime. You can repeat this regularly until you see your desired results.

7. Makes Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate

Craving for dark chocolate? Make it extra special and healthy with coconut oil. Homemade dark chocolate is one of the most delightful ways to extract and make use of coconut oil’s benefits.

Don’t forget to store the dark chocolate in the freezer or refrigerator because copra oil melts at 24°C or 76°F. Find an easy recipe online and put your cooking skills to the test! If you want to keep it healthy, make sure to look for more creative and sugar-free ideas.

8. May Reduce Belly Fat

Your belly fats, also known as visceral fats, not only make it harder for you to do your usual chores. Having those belly fats is also associated with several health risks like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If you want a more straightforward and cheaper approach to trimming your belly fats, coconut oil may be a good idea to size you down.

Results from one study found that obese men lost 1 inch of their waist fat by adding two tablespoons (30 ml or 1 ounce) of copra oil to their diet. Another study involved studying women on calorie-restricted diets. Results showed that those who took two tablespoons of the oil daily sized down in terms of waist size as compared to the other group who took soybean-oil, which even showed an increase in waist size.

9. Protects Your Hair from Damage

Coconut oil not only helps you moisturize your skin. It also helps keep your hair moisturized and protected from damage! One study involved comparing the effects of different oils applied on hair, namely: coconut oil, mineral oil, and sunflower oil.

Results showed that only copra oil substantially reduced protein loss from hair when applied before or after a shampoo lather. The same result was observed to individuals with healthy and damaged hair. The Researchers concluded that the unique structure of lauric acid in the oil penetrates the hair in ways most fats can’t.

10. Improves Wound Healing

Suppose you want to speed up the healing process of your minor cuts and scrape. You can apply a little amount of coconut oil directly to the wound before covering it with a bandage.

This conclusion was reached following the study of rats whose wounds were treated with coconut oil. The results showed that those rats treated with copra oil healed their wounds much faster. This result can be attributed to their reduced inflammatory marks and increased collagen production, all being effects of copra oil.

11. Makes a Nontoxic Insect Repellent

You may already know that some essential oils are used as natural repellants to avoid bites and stings. These oils, however, need to be mixed with a carrier oil to take effect. One study showed that mixing coconut oil with Thai essential oils proved to have over 98% protection from mosquito bites.

Suppose you prefer an insect repellant that can directly be applied to your skin. You can also mix copra oil with either tea tree, peppermint, or rosemary essential oils to help repel mosquitoes and other summer insects.

12. Removes Stains

Aside from coconut oil’s health benefits, it can also be used to remove stains on your clothes, or even spills on your carpets and furniture. How to apply?

You can mix one part baking soda with one coconut oil and mix it to form a paste. Directly apply the mixture to the stain, wait for about 5 minutes, and wipe it away.

13. Natural Deodorant

Have you ever wondered why your body parts seem to exude some odor? This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that the bacteria on your skin produce undesirable odors. So even sweat itself has no smell, the moment it gets in contact with your skin, it starts to produce that undesirable odor you always want to conceal. Coconut oil can help you with that.

Copra oil has strong antibacterial properties that make it a great and natural substitute to your commercial deodorant minus the harmful chemicals!

You can browse through the internet to find easy recipes for deodorants made with copra oil and other natural ingredients.

14. Heals Ragged Cuticles

Coconut oil’s natural powers extend even to your cuticles and hangnails!

Suppose you want to improve your cuticles and hangnails. In that case, you can apply a small amount of coconut oil to your cuticles and massage them for a few minutes. You can do it several times within a week to get the best results.

15. Makes Your Wood Furniture Shine

Coconut oil doesn’t only work for humans! It also works to keep your furniture shiny and polished. What more, it also works as a dust repellant and has a pleasant smell, unlike most commercial furniture polishes that often give off a strong smell.

16. Removes Eye Makeup

Ran out of makeup remover? Coconut oil has got you covered. Copra oil is an effective and gentle makeup remover. You can apply it like how you usually apply your makeup remover. Amazing, right?

17. Soothes Chapped Lips

Coconut oil moisturizes your skin, so it makes for an ideal natural lip balm! It slides smoothly on your skin, leaves it moist for hours, and even provides some protection from the harmful effects of the sun!

18. Makes Homemade Salad Dressing

Make every thanksgiving extra special and natural by substituting your commercial salad dressings with coconut oil. Say goodbye to sugar and preservatives. Instead, say hello to a delicious and healthy homemade salad dressing.

It cannot be denied that copra oil has gained popularity over the years. It can be attributed to both positive and negative effects on your health that experts have explored. But whatever they may be, it can’t be denied that it has seemingly limitless uses. This article proves just that.

So if you’re thinking of using coconut oil to treat some diseases or other medical conditions, it’s safe to consult your trusted medical expert about it. But if you simply want to try out its other uses, go ahead, experience its power, and finally sign up for an oil change.