When the British explorer Captain James Cook came to the Polynesian islands in the Pacific Ocean, he and his sailors were struck by the lively, healthy and beautiful appearance of the local people. Both men and women had glossy skin and beautiful hair, and moved with a fluidity and grace that was pure poetry in motion. One of the beauty secrets of the Polynesian peoples was coconut oil, one of many products that the people of Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa derived from their “Tree of Life”. According to Polynesian legend, the first coconut tree was discovered by the hero Maui who found the first coconut palm growing from the body of the great eel Tuna whom he fought to win the beautiful maiden Hine as his bride.
Coconut oil is extremely good for your skin and has excellent moisturizing and softening properties. Extra virgin coconut oil in particular is low in irritants, unlike some other natural moisturisers. Some people rate coconut oil as having all the benefits of mineral oil but without the drawbacks – including the fact that mineral oil comes from a non-renewable resource and is a byproduct of the gasoline refining industry. Coconut oil, however, comes from a completely natural and renewable source, and provides income to developing nations – the Monoi range, for example, is manufactured in Tahiti using locally grown coconuts. What is more, the byproducts of pressing coconut oil for use in dietary supplements, moisturizers and lotions are all biodegradable and have a wide range of uses.
When it comes to moisturizers made from coconut oil, we love
Garden Of Life Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – it feels fantastic, smells delicious and is available at prices so low you won’t believe it! Coconut oil used as a cosmetic or for skin health is suitable for all the body from head to toe – and that includes your hair – plain coconut oil makes a good deep-heat treatment for dry, frizzy hair, and leaves it glossy and silky. At House of Nutrition, we stock a number of cosmetic lotions and oils made from pure coconut oil (scented and unscented), including
Jarrow Coconut Oil Extra Virgin Naturally Organic and
NOW FOOD Virgin Coconut Oil. These are good for general all-over skin smoothing and soothing, or as a massage oil – lovely! Try Monoi's Gardenia Coconut Oil With Sunscreen for a tropical treat for your skin that’s perfect for summer, or Cococare Coconut Moisturizing Oil to soothe dry, chapped skin over winter.
But coconut oil’s benefits aren’t just skin deep. Coconut oil is an excellent dietary supplement that has many benefits. This may come as a surprise to many, as some people who have been trying to reduce their cholesterol levels and reduce their chances of heart disease for some time may have been told by their doctors – years ago – that coconut oil should be avoided, as it is high in saturated fats. However, researchers noticed that Polynesian peoples eating a traditional diet, even though they consumed large amounts of saturated fat in the form of coconut oil, had very low levels of cardiovascular disease. While some researchers looked at the fish in their diet as a possible solution to this conundrum (fish oils are rich in Omega-3 and lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol), others investigated the coconut oil and found, to their surprise, that unprocessed coconut oil lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and raised HDL (good) cholesterol.
Extra virgin coconut oil and virgin coconut oil (e.g.
Marine Biotherapies Coconut Oil,
Organic Fiji's Natural Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Fragrance Free and
Jarrow Coconut Oil Organic) is particularly good for your overall inner health. Studies have found that extra virgin coconut oil has an immune-boosting effect because of the high levels of the essential fatty acid lauric acid contained in it – only breast milk has a higher concentration of lauric acid! Coconut oil has antibacterial properties when taken as a dietary supplement and has also been shown to help fight yeast infections such as Candida.
How do you use coconut oil as a dietary supplement? While you can take coconut oil in capsule form (e.g.
Jarrow Extra Virgin Coconut Oil), you can also use coconut oil in liquid form anywhere that you would use oil or fat in your normal cooking. Use it in salad dressings, as a spread on bread instead of butter or margarine, use it for stir-frying or even in baking (avoid deep frying with coconut oil, or any oil, for that matter!).