Coconut oil - its benefits and how to choose the best

Marianne James

Benefits for your body -

Coconut oil is now considered to be of benefit when used in our diets despite its high saturated fat content.  It has approximately 90% saturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat, and 3% polyunsaturated fat.  However, unlike other highly saturated and unsaturated fats, coconut oil is mostly made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). It is well-known for its healing, anti-inflammatory properties and its metabolism-boosting properties (because of these medium chain triglycerides) which can assist in weight loss. Coconut oil is believed to improve insulin secretion and the utilisation of blood glucose.  Because coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it is very heat-stable and has a long shelf life which is a good feature for an oil.  

Coconut oil benefits certain health problems:  Coconut oil can be taken to relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue, the symptoms of pancreatitis and enlarged prostrate. Coconut oil is a highly recommended oil to take in older age as it is believed to help protect against kidney disease as well as supporting brain function, including the reversal of some of the symptoms of dementia and alzheimer's disease. It can reduce the incidence of epileptic seizures and also help protect against bladder infections due to its anti-bacterial properties. It is considered to improve heart health and reduce health risks associated with diabetes, to support thyroid function as well as the immune system. 

If you wish to take coconut oil therapeutically, most recommend 3 to 4 tablespoons for adults per day to achieve optimal results.  If you do take it therapeutically we suggest you read our section on how to choose the best quality coconut oil.


Go Coconut ! - tips to keep your energy up and control sugar cravings: 

Coconut oil is an ideal supplement for when you reach an energy low later in the day. You will be giving yourself a good dose of medium-chain fatty acids which are immediately absorbed and converted into energy, similar to the effects of glucose but without the insulin spike.  Try one of these ideas:-

    • Eat a teaspoon of coconut oil or a small handful of coconut chips (avoid anything that seems rancid which means the oils are degrading - do the sniff test first). Coconut chips along with nuts are easy to take to work and have during breaks.
    • Add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and/or some coconut chips to your smoothie in the morning.
    • Sprinkle some coconut chips on top of your muesli or porridge for an immediate energy release.
    • Use coconut as an alternative when making your own muesli to slightly sweeten it without sugar.  Easy mix:  2 to 3 cups oats, 1/2 cup coconut and add dried fruit of your choice.  No sugar needed!
    • Mix some coconut oil with cocoa (or carob) and honey for a quick energy boost before a workout.


Choosing the best Coconut oil:

Coconut oil can be either of two types:-  

1.   The RBD variety: which stands for refined, bleached and deodorised.  You need to assume that coconut oil has been refined unless stated otherwise.  The end result from refining (often with the use of chemicals) is an oil which doesn't smell like coconut and can withstand higher cooking temperatures such as for deep-frying foods.  In our view this is fine for soap but nothing else.  While some coconut oil is refined using natural, chemical free processes (steam or diatomaceous earth), in many cases chemicals are used.  In addition, some coconut oils have been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.  

2.   The unrefined, raw variety:  This is leaving coconut oil as nature created it.  It is usually labelled 'virgin' or 'extra-virgin' coconut oil and is made from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut using mechanical means without the addition of any chemicals. Depending on the extraction method, the flavour can be mild to very intense (more heat draws the flavour out).  A good raw, unrefined, virgin coconut oil extracted at low temperatures should have a very mild coconut flavour and scent.  The terms 'virgin' and 'extra virgin' seem synonymous in the coconut oil world as they are both the result of the first pressing of raw coconut i.e. coconut meat is not pressed over and over.  So don't get caught by marketing strategies to make you pay more for what is essentially the same product.  Certified organic coconut oil is extracted from coconuts which have been harvested from organically grown trees (without the use of fertilisers and pesticides).  This guarantees a very pure oil indeed and is the standard that we only use here at FLORA ORGANICS.

Points to look for:

  • Look for words 'virgin' (or 'extra virgin') either of which gives you the best quality.  Both terms refer to the first pressing of the coconut.
  • Preferably the words 'certified organic' (not just 'organic') on the label. Watch out for certified organic coconut oils that have been refined; while these have been refined without chemicals, they are not as complete as the raw, virgin variety.
  • The oil should smell and taste like coconut but should not be overpowering and strong (a sign that it has been heated intensely).  It should not smell roasted or smokey.

Storing coconut oil

Coconut oil can be stored out of the fridge, away from direct sunlight, for up to two years. However, It will only stay liquid in temperatures above 24 degrees Celsius. If the oil is solid, you need to apply low level heat such as placing the container in a very warm bowl of water or placing it in your shower area while showering where it will be warmer and it will transform very quickly.


Benefits for your skin -

What we're particularly interested in here at Flora Organics is its benefits for the skin. Coconut oil has the following wonderful skin benefits:

    • A powerful moisturiser and skin softener
    • Rich in vitamin E
    • Restores dry and flaking skin
    • Strengthens skin at a deep level
    • Eliminates dead skin cells
    • Marbellous for hardened and cracked feet and elbows
    • Soothes eczema, psoriasis and sunburn
    • Promotes skin healing and repair
    • Helps prevent and reduce stretch marks
    • Helps keep skin's connective tissue strong (anti-aging properties)
    • Is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral due to its 50% lauric acid content
    • Helps improve hair and scalp conditions
    • Is claimed to have an SPF of 4
    • Can improve the appearance of cellulite


Coconut-fresh body oil at FLORA ORGANICS

While some use a small amount of coconut oil on their face, most find it too rich and use it as a body oil instead.  At Flora Organics, we have produced a range of body oils for you to choose from each of which are a blend of certified organic, virgin, cold-pressed Coconut oil with certified organic, virgin, cold-pressed Almond oil.  Almond oil has been added in order to make the Coconut oil more user-friendly as it hardens at 24 degrees Celcius. Your skin also gets the wonderful benefits of Almond oil as well as the aromatic and therapeutic benefits of pure essential oils.  Check them out here in our Coconut-fresh Body oil range. 


    • Go coconut, it’s great for your skin! Amazingly good as a body oil in my opinion.


    • Great information about Coconut oil Marianne. Certainly sounds like the organic, virgin type is the way to go. Wouldn’t want to touch anything else. So many people rave about how coconut oil does wonders for their skin. Your Coconut-fresh body oil looks wonderful – a blend with Almond oil – I have heard they make a really good blend. Thank you all at Flora Organics for having this ready blended in bottles and with such delicious sounding essential oils as well!!! They look ideal for body massage or just generally using on parts of your body that could do with some deep moisturising and pampering. Cheers :-)


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