If you haven’t noticed, or started using it already, coconut oil has become a major superfood in the last decade. Supermarkets across the world are now packed with coconut products. Everything from chips, water, snacks, spreads, and even activated charcoal are available for coconut-crazy consumers. The love and obsession around coconut oil is real, but how did it get so popular? How did coconut oil become the health food scene’s go-to superfood for nearly any physical ailment?
Coconut Oil Is Nothing New
While you may know someone that uses coconut oil for everything these days, it’s actually been around for a long time. Cultures across the world have used coconut oil for a variety of applications for millennia.
Coconut oil has been part of Indian Ayurvedic medicine for over 5000 years. That’s where the recently popular idea of oil pulling, or washing your mouth with coconut oil, originally came from. Coconut oil has been extracted using boiled water, and traded globally since the 1860s. It was even commonly used as lamp oil before electricity was invented.
The Recent Rise of Coconut Oil
The first challenge to the recent popularity of coconut oil was battling the 90s mentality of all fats being bad. Diet trends like the low-carb Atkins diet helped popularize the idea that trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils are the real enemy, not healthy fats.
The surge in popularity of coconut oil recently is due to the combination of several factors. In the United States, the movement towards natural foods, raw eating, and vegan and paleo diets has helped to put the health benefits of coconut products in the spotlight. Also, a general distrust of “establishment” science has opened minds to new ideas that may contrast with traditional, food-pyramid-type thinking. Not to mention big name endorsements from celebrities, models, Dr. Oz, and everyone inbetween has done wonders to boost demand for coconut oil.
Where Does Coconut Oil Come From?
There’s a lot that goes into the production and distribution of coconut oil. It’s made from the inner part of the coconut seed, or copra, which involves a great amount of harvesting and extraction.
About 85% of global coconut oil production comes from South East Asia, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia. A coconut tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year, but more often yields less than 30. A thousand mature coconuts weigh about 3,170 pounds, which produces about 370 pounds of the inner part of the coconut seed. From there, you can get around 18 gallons of coconut oil.
The perception of coconut oil is that it can cure pretty much everything. It’s a commonly held belief that coconut oil can protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, dental decay, and skin infections.
Science is still on the fence with most of these claims, and many authoritative health organizations still caution against the consumption of too much coconut oil, mainly because of its saturated fat content. Either way, the skin benefits, vitamin E content, and lauric acid content in coconut oil is undeniable. Additionally, the presence of medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil means that it can give a quick energy boost to your body too.
Everyday Uses for Coconut Oil
Coconut oil isn’t just for those seeking a cure-all for what ails them. Part of the surge in its popularity is due to the many proven everyday uses of coconut oil:
- It can be substituted one-to-one for butter in baking, which is great for people with dietary restrictions
- It has a high smoking point, which makes it ideal for almost all cooking
- It can be used to season cast iron pans
- It can be applied to hair to make it beautifully soft and shiny
- It can moisturize skin from head to toe
- It can be used as a lip balm
Coconut Oil For Everybody!
It’s no wonder that coconut oil has seen a recent surge in popularity. It offers many health benefits and it’s incredibly multifunctional. From silky hair to healthy cooking, coconut oil is an almost magical product that is much loved among healthy living advocates. And best of all, one jar of coconut oil goes a long way. Good thing! Because you can use it for just about everything! No wonder the health world can’t stop talking about coconut oil.
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