Very few oils have multiple human benefits. Coconut oil is a seed derived oil that can be used from head to toe as well as for cooking.
The scientific name for coconut is cocos nucifera. However, early Spanish explorers nicknamed it coco which means "monkey face" on account of the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembling the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
 'Healthiest oil on earth'
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it is the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth."
A colorless to pale brownish yellow oil, coconut oil has a melting point ranging from 23ºC to 26ºC. The glycerides of coconut oil are invariably a mixture of one, two, or three fatty acids. Though coconut oil is known as triglyceride or lipid, it also contains minor proportions of mono and diglycerides and has highest content of glycerol. It is
- Oil of natural origin
- Edible in raw form
- Saturated and stable
- has high resistance to oxidative rancidity
- Sharp melting behaviour
- Skin friendly oil and excellent as baby oil
- Effective heat transfer agent in frying
- Ideal confectionery fat
- Easily saponifiable even in cold
- Excellent base for hair oil
- Germicidal and antimicrobial property
- Lowers evaporative loss of water from skin and protects it from heat
- Imparts hardness and lathering property to soaps
- Illuminant and lubricant
- Does not leave a smoky flame if used in open lamps
- Only slight changes on hydrogenation
- Blends well with other oils
- Easily hydrolyses
- Excellent fat source in the preparation of filled milk and infant food formulae
- Desirable emulsifying property
- No harmful effects due to reheating
- Can be converted into diesel fuel
- Essential ingredient in ghee substitutes
- Carrier and protective agent for fat soluble vitamins
- Low viscosity
 Used in various forms
In India, coconut oil has been used in various forms ranging from cooking fat, hair oil, body oil to industrial oil. There are different types of coconut oil-
Refined Oil: It comes from copra or dried coconut pulp and has been subjected to chemical processing and intense heat during its production, and consequently its lauric acid content is usually below 50 percent. It is used for industrial purposes in the making of confectionary items, pharmaceutical products and paints.
Virgin Oil: It is gourmet-quality food oil, and is the healthiest oil in the world to use for cooking. It comes from fresh coconut meat and is not subjected to chemical processing and intense heat, and retains a higher content of lauric acid (usually higher than 50 percent).
 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Somehow, a four-decade-old-study has left an adverse impact on the image of coconut oil. As a result, there continues to be widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it is said to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart disease.
On the contrary, the benefits of coconut oil cannot be measured. From increasing resistance in AIDS to fat-loss while eating your favourite foods, coconut oil is far more important than any other oil obtained from the palm nut. Coconut and palm kernel oils were even recognized as health oils in Ayurvedic medicine almost 4000 years ago. A fact that several millennia haven’t been able to erode.
The world today is ailing with problems of health and stress. Finding ways to combat stress and promote healthy living is something that has driven experts alike from medical to the cosmetic circles to conduct researches on the various benefits of coconut oil. And it is said that the presence of Medium Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA) content in coconut oil is what makes it so special and so beneficial.
Ironically, despite its many advantages, coconut oil has consistently been losing its popularity to other alternatives such as vegetable oil etc. Only time can tell how much longer the world will reap the vast benefits coconut oil has to offer.
Its health benefits cover -
- Coconut oil and AIDS – It helps reduce the viral loads of HIV-aids patients.
- Coconut oil and diabetes – It helps control diabetes.
- Coconut oil and the immune system - Coconut oil is said to have properties like a natural antibiotic that renders some viruses, bacteria and fungi inactive.
- Coconut oil and viruses - It is one of nature's best "germ fighters." It is used to fight viruses like herpes, influenza, and various pathogenic bacteria. This is due to the lauric acid, which is found in abundance in coconut oil.
- Thyroid-stimulating effects of coconut oil - Many researchers have reported that coconut oil lowers cholesterol (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957). The cholesterol-lowering properties of coconut oil are a direct result of its ability to stimulate thyroid function.
- Anti-cancer effects of coconut oil
- It protects against heart disease
- It is easy on the digestion system
- Does not cause the stickiness of platelets that causes the formation of blood clots
- Coconut helps to prevent osteoporosis
 Coconut Oil and Weight Loss
Virgin coconut oil helps getting a quicker control of your weight. This is because coconut oil is more easily converted to energy than to body fat. This means that your body will burn your food for increased energy rather than storing it as fat. It also contributes to a sense of satisfaction earlier in the mealtime that makes you tend to want to eat less.
Also as seen earlier its thyroid connection, it helps manage body weight by not inhibiting the body’s thyroid metabolism. Other vegetable oils, being mostly unsaturated, do inhibit the thyroid metabolism.
Considered as holistic oil, research on coconut oil is being conducted world over, despite the fact that it is produced and manufactured mostly in India and other Asian countries. More and more nations are adopting this oil as part of their lifestyle because of the large number of benefits.
 Useful tips
- Organic coconut oil is extremely beneficial for health, but needs to be used in safe and prescribed measurement.
- Nutritionists and dieticians suggest that food fried in coconut oil is healthier than that fried in the usual cooking oil.
- Coconut oil prevents tooth decay.
- Its antioxidant properties are effective against preventing premature ageing and degenerative diseases.
- Coconut oil can slim overweight dogs, condition their dry shabby-looking coats, offers some relief to painful arthritis or ligament problems, and balance their thyroid. It also gives dogs a natural source of energy and helps keep dogs smelling better.
- The traditional way of producing coconut oil (virgin) has been used by the Filipinos for thousand of years. Virgin coconut oil, however, can only be produced using fresh coconut meat.
- Coconut oil is better at revving up your metabolism rate than protein due to its being composed of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA). Coconut oil is the most concentrated natural source of MCFA.
- Farmers in the 1940s used coconut oil to attempt to fatten their herds. Instead, the animals became lean, active, and hungry!
- Coconut oil, made of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), does not require extra enzymes for digestion and absorption and, as such, can be immediately converted by the body into energy.
- HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL
- COCONUT OIL AND HEART DISEASE
- Research on Coconut Oil
- Coconut Oil benefits
 Additional Information
- Coconut Recipes
- Beauty Tips
- Coconut Beauty Secrets
- For information on weight loss – Coconut Diet
- Refer for more Health and Nutritional Benefits from Coconut Oil.