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Organic Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils, and has various applications in food, medicine, and industry, not to mention beauty care.
Indeed, the oil has been used for years, and comes from a variety of sources.
The oil can be extracted from fresh coconut meat, milk or residue – and each extraction gives the oil a different strength and therefore different purpose in modern culture.
Where are the best sources of coconut oil?
Simply put, the best virgin coconut oil comes from the places with the best coconuts.
Naturally, there is huge amounts of dispute over where is home to the best coconuts, although it is largely believed that Sri Lanka has the crème de la crème.
According to Dr Bronner, the Serendipol project in Sri Lanka has become the world's foremost source of certified organic and fair trade Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO).
"Sri Lanka not only supplies growing demand for cosmetics grade coconut oil... but also since October 2010 Serendipol supplies premium quality oil for food grade VCO"
Different types of coconut oil
As previously stated, different extractions of coconut oil are beneficial for different things.
The way that the coconut oil is treated also affects how it is used, and the quality of the product.
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oils are usually used in cooking as, because it has already been treated, it can generally cook to a higher temperature without burning or the taste being effected. However, refined coconut oils do not offer the same health benefits of a virgin, completely raw coconut oil, but they are still excellent sources of most of the beneficial fatty acids (like MCTs).
Refined coconut oil is the most commonly found oil, but is not necessarily the best.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Indeed, an unrefined coconut oil, or virgin or extra virgin is certainly the most beneficial, especially when it comes to skin.
This type of coconut oil has been completely untreated – made with the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut.
Because of this, unrefined coconut oil has zero chemicals, meaning that it's great for even the most sensitive of skin.
Cold pressed doesn't necessarily mean raw, it simply means that, when extracted, the oil was not burnt over a certain temperature. This is intended to keep all the natural, good nutrients inside the coconut oil which are so beneficial for our skin, hair and in medicine.
Uses in external care
Although the oil is often used for cooking, it is somewhat overlooked what it can do for our bodies. Indeed, owing to its fatty content, coconut oil is a fantastic moisturiser!
"I feel that coconut oil may be more beneficial if used on the outside of the body – it is a great moisturiser for hair and skin – than taken internally. What our bodies always need more of are essential fatty acids (EFA), which you find in fish oils. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid, and saturated fats are something that most people try to avoid."
- Alice Hart-Davis, creator of Good Things Beauty commented.
Not only is it rich in fats which moisturise and tone our body, it is also completely natural (when bought unrefined). Because of this, even those with the most sensitive of skins can use it.
Coconut oil is also used for hair, as somewhat of a conditioner. Indeed, one study compared the effect on hair of three different types of oil - mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil.
It found that coconut oil was the only oil that reduced protein loss for both damaged and undamaged hair. Not only is coconut oil rich in fat, (in fact, it contains 92 per cent saturated fat - the highest amount of saturated fat of any fat), which leaves the hair fully moisturised, it is also hydrophobic, meaning it repels water.
Therefore, when applied as a pre-wash conditioner, it stops the strands from becoming frizzy or out of control – keeping the hair sleek, soft and well nourished.
In addition, coconut oil can also be used in cooking. Many people use the oil as a healthy alternative to vegetable oil when frying.
"Coconut oil is better than butter and trans-fats"
explained Penn State University cardiovascular nutrition researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD.
"But even though coconut oil is cholesterol-free, it is still a saturated fat that needs to be limited in th diet and if you are looking for real health benefits, switch from saturated fats to unsaturated fats by using vegetable oils like soybean, canola, corn, or olive oil."