The Benefits and Magic of Coconut Oil

So, from where I’m sitting, in my little studio office, in the pre-dawn summer darkness, life is pretty good. We’re more than halfway through our six week summer holidays, there are two weeks until this uni semester ends and I’m only feeling a teeny little bit edgy from spending so much time with my children. Only a teeny bit because I haven’t seen them for 9 hours ;). That feeling of edginess may amp up in a couple of hours time when I go over to make them breakfast. We have been at home for the last 10 days while we wait for my son to recover from a nasty cough, which while it can’t be helped, is making us all feel a bit…housebound. I’ve been enjoying staying at home, but I do have these January adventures planned which I hope we will have time to do!

10-Health-Benefits-of-Virgin-Coconut-Oil

So, as promised last week, I am writing about my experience of coconut oil. It’s been often talked about as a super-food over the last few years – personally, I think that ‘super-food’ is a hackneyed marketing tool that automatically turns me off the food in question, but then again, I am a most contrary woman :). In my opinion, any food that comes from nature, is grown well, harvested well and sold well has some piece of greatness about it. So, in spite of the coconut’s super-food label, I have been experimenting with coconut oil over the past couple of years, because I have an interest in oils that goes way back to the days when I was a student in my early 20s studying Nutrition. The very first thing I liked about coconut oil is that because it is a saturated fat, it is a good, stable oil to fry in. Most oils that are commonly used as frying oils are already rancid as they sit on the supermarket shelves, or are damaged by the heating process, thus becoming toxic.

The next way that I have used coconut oil is through oil pulling. Most of you will have heard about oil pulling I think, but if you haven’t, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique, where oil is swished around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes and then spat out. For the first five minutes, the oil is cleaning your mouth, teeth and gums. After this, the fat enzymes in the oil starts to pull up any bacteria, toxins and parasites that may be living in your mouth or lymph system. In this way, not only does oil pulling improve your oral health, but it has positive health benefits for your whole body. Traditionally, sesame oil or sunflower oil was used, but coconut oil is also used these days, because it has such excellent anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and enzymatic properties. For more information on oil pulling, go here.

So, this is how I’ve been using coconut oil over the past couple of years. This week, though, I wanted to play around with it more. For starters, I wanted to make oil pulling an every day ritual, rather than a ‘whenever I can be bothered’ type of thing. The best time to do oil pulling is on an empty stomach, as soon as you wake up, so this is what I’ve been doing. I have some excellent quality coconut oil (the quality of any oil is very important – always go for a cold-pressed extra-virgin oil) which tastes delicious, so I have also been adding it to my lunch time smoothie, to my morning chai, to the morning pancake mix (wait until next week when I share my delicious pancake recipe with you), and stirred into my porridge, baked beans, soup and anything else that I can! Coconut oil devotees recommend 2-5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day, to help with weight loss, hormonal balance, skin and hair health, digestive issues as well as the treatment of more serious chronic disease. For more information on coconut oil, go here.

My two favourite recipes for the week:

Banana and Apple Smoothie

It is mid-summer here in Australia, so this is the perfect time to eat lightly. Replacing a meal with a smoothie is perfect.

1 banana
1 green apple, chopped
1 tbl chia seeds
1 tbl coconut oil
2 tbl yogurt (coconut or milk)
1 serving of green food powder (optional)
1 cup of organic almond milk

Blitz and drink. It’s delicious, light, yet filling. Perfect on a summer’s day!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Chai recipe

Elizabeth Gilbert posted this recipe on her facebook page a couple of weeks ago, and being a chai lover from way back, I had to give it a go, especially since it has coconut oil in it. I was intrigued! So, first make the spiced tea:

Bring 3 cups of water to the boil. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cardamon pods, 6 peppercorns, sliced fresh ginger to taste and two black tea bags. Turn the heat off and let the tea brew. Meanwhile, in your cup, mix one tablespoon of coconut oil, one teaspoon of turmeric and one tablespoon of honey. Add a small amount of the chai liquid, mix, and then fill 2/3 of the cup with chai. Top with frothed milk.
Now, this is more of a winter drink with its delicious warming spices, but it’s also a comforting, nourishing drink, which a person can be in need of all year round. Enjoy <3.

So, that was my week in coconut oil. My skin feels fantastic, my digestive system is working really well and my mouth feels really clean and happy. I think it’s a winner 🙂

Next week: chia seeds.

18 comments

  1. I loved when I was oil pulling regularly (with coconut), but I too forget! When I get home, I need to get back to it. Important point though: DO NOT spit the oil down your drain! It is definitely not as healthy for your pipes! :-p Thanks for the great tips, Sara!

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    • Yes, me too – I really want it to be an every day, it feels kind of weird if I don’t do it kind of thing. I’m finding the first thing in the morning, before there are any distractions, just me and my writing, is the best time (and that is the time recommended anyway because that’s when the body is in detox mode). I spit it outside – nothing like solidified coconut oil in your pipes to really piss off your plumber lol 🙂

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  2. I had read about oil pulling… not sure how I’d go, as since I underwent a successful but challenging Chinese Herbalist treatment for 6 months involving drinking horrendous tasting concoctions my gag reflex is really touchy ;(
    Can you believe that coconut oil has now made SMH’s Top 10 foods you shouldn’t be eating http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/top-10-cook/top-10-foods-you-shouldnt-be-eating-and-10-you-should-20160107-glzt9j.html?eid=email:nnn-13omn567-ret_newsl-membereng:nnn-04/11/2013-recipe-dom-life_and_style-nnn-goodfood-u&campaign_code=13IFW005&promote_channel=edmail&mbnr=MTQ2ODkxNA
    Crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Dale, I have a terrible gag reflex too as my dentist discovered :). The oil pulling doesn’t activate it at all. I just read that article…far out. She advocates eating more dairy and bread and taking coconut oil out? Well, each to their own I guess!

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  3. Oil pulling sounds intriguing, but I just don’t think I could do 15-20 minutes. Wonder if an abbreviated session would have benefits. Also, the toxicity in olive oil or other oils when cooked at a high temp…not good. I’ve known about this, yet still do it. How do you handle that? Do you cook at low temps or just use coconut oil for all your frying / cooking?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Elysha, I would start at what you can cope with. I do oil pulling first thing while I am checking social media and getting ready to write for the day – I’m distracted and don’t need to talk!
      As for oil, well, I have known for many years about the sensitivity of seed oils to frying and still I have used olive oil. This year I am making more of an effort to make actions more congruent with my knowledge :). So, basically, an oil is suitable to fry in if it has saturated fats in it – so animal fats (lard, butter, ghee) and coconut oil. Also palm oil, but as you know, palm oil is environmentally suspect. Butter, ghee and coconut oil also have monounsaturated fats which are easily used by the body for energy rather than stored as fat…

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  4. Coconut oil = yum! What a great treat for your mouth. I will have to give the ‘pulling’ a try. I am currently on a replace the evening meal with a veg juice or shake. Also my superfoods at the moment are in the ‘seasonal abundance’ categories – blackberries by the thousand (freshly picked in a morning smoothie, and jam) bitter lettuce; I seem to have endless amounts – so incorporating into pesto and jucies has had wonderful results. And tomatoes tomatoes fruit tree abundance.

    I have to settle time and time again into the cyclic nature infused depth and spiritual connection of these tasks to reach some sort of equilibrium. Otherwise it is interesting, for me the summer vege garden abundance lurches strongly over into my ‘not enough’ ‘never be enough’ not so helpful self speak. And thank goddess for podcasts as the summer preserving marathon runs it course.

    Thanks for your inspiration in relation to yummo and diverse foods. Mid last year I had a similar revelation in relation to reenergising the shopping, food preparation part of my life. Part of the solution for me, was to join the local food co-op: finally one form of shopping that my heart and soul enjoys.

    Summer holidays at the close, final day of home sweet home for the kids. Swim in the River blessings to you and your family.

    Regards, Kate

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    • Kate, you should give oil pulling a try. At the very minimum, it is such a wonderful therapy for improving teeth and gum health.
      I am really enjoying having a smoothie as a meal replacement too, especially in February…it is our hottest month, and to be honest, eating and cooking just feels like to much of an effort sometimes.
      I would especially love to go to a couple of local growers markets, which while they are not that close (an hour or so drive away) would help me get inspired as well as being able to make more ethical and environmental food choices. I actually had that on my list of things I want to do this year, so thanks for reminding me. I would also love to be a part of a veggie box system, but they aren’t available in my area. I tell you what I have enjoyed having in my diet the last couple of weeks: legumes. Beans, peas, lentils…I just love their wonderful little selves!

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    • H Diana, how lovely to see you here <3. It's hard to know if you should persevere through not liking oil pulling or not – some people can't stand it, and that's ok. I have never minded it. I like coconut, and I don't mind the oil swishing around. I do it while I write in the morning, so it's not a big deal, it just gets done. As for the difference it makes, well, my teeth are noticeably whiter, my gums are healthier and I've noticed that the roughness I used to have on my arms is gone. Perhaps it's too early to say for sure – I've only been doing it daily for a month – but I feel like it's a good thing.

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