By Angela Derks
Posted: Updated:

Years ago I couldn’t get many coconut products in Australia and the coconuts in the supermarkets were old and certainly nothing like the delicious ones that I grew up with in Lae, Papua New Guinea. I had mango and coconut trees in my backyard so eating coconuts and drinking coconut water/milk was part of my family’s normal diet.

I like to spread a healthy serving of coconut oil on two slices of essene bread, sprinkle some ground nuts and seeds or even a great nut paste and eat as a meal. I have also always cooked my favorite dishes with the oil. It’s simply delicious. I love the taste and smell.

Check out the people of traditional cultures, such as the South Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa and the Central America where coconut and palm oils are plentiful and the rates of obesity and health problems are significantly lower than those in Australia, America and Europe.

Pacific islanders consume as much as 10 tablespoons of coconut oil in their daily diet. It seems like awful lot and for those of us not used to consuming the oil, it is an awful lot. The difference is, Pacific Islanders have been using the oil for generations whereas it is a relatively new addition to the western diet, so we have to moderately add the dosage to condition our body to adapt to it eventually. To increase our intake quickly can actually result in constipation or diarrhoea so be careful not to overdo it.


For thousands of years, both Ayurvedic and Indian folkloric medicine have used coconut oil as a traditional remedy for almost all illnesses. Gradually, modern medical science has discovered that coconut oil can actually protect against heart disease (yes, contrary to what we were initially led to believe), diabetes, cancers, liver and kidney diseases, osteoporosis, dental decay and skin infections. It also relieves symptoms associated with illnesses like pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis (difficulty in breathing and absorbing nutrients), chronic inflammation, and many skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and even contact dermatitis.

The secret of coconut oil’s bountiful benefits lies in its saturated fat structure and the size of the structure. Free radicals appear everywhere in the environment. The more polluted the environment, the more free radicals there are. In other words, there is no way can to completely stop the assault of free radicals, but you can greatly minimise you’re the effect of their attacks by adding a sensible amount of quality coconut oil into your diet which contains a high level of fat-soluble antioxidants, to ward off the free-radicals.

Did you know that free radicals can make you look older than you really are (i.e. premature aging) by building “tracks” (wrinkles) on your face, “popping up” age spots on your skin and loosening your skin tissues to make your skin saggy?

When used as a topical cream, coconut oil actually soothes and heals the irritated or affected areas on your skin caused by skin diseases such as psoriasis, hemorrhoids, warts and athlete’s foot. It’s also an effective healing balm against blisters and sunburns.

As a child I recall smelling coconut oil daily in Papua New Guinea as it is commonly used as a treatment for making hair strong, shiny and healthy-looking. If you have damaged hair, try using coconut oil frequently on your hair and scalp. It’s proven more effective in treating damaged hair than mineral oil and sunflower oil. That’s because coconut oil is the only oil (among the three) which can effectively reduce protein loss in hair. Coconut oil can also help to control dandruff and is best when used as a leave-in conditioner over time.


Because of coconut oil’s low cost and ready availability worldwide, pharmaceutical companies won’t be able to protect their coconut oil based drugs with a patent. Hence they can’t charge exorbitantly and reap enormous profits. That’s why they don’t see the profits in funding the research for the use of coconut oil in fighting various diseases. Luckily, information is so much more readily available these days that we can research foods that are found in nature ourselves, and make informed decisions regarding how we want to lead our own lives.

The Best Type of Coconut Oil for Your Optimal Health Benefits is Virgin Coconut Oil – this is when it is extracted from fresh coconuts using any number of the methods free from high temperatures and chemical solvents – boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, mechanical pressing, or centrifuge, the oil retains its distinctive coconut aroma, and best of all, its full nutritional values. The oil looks crystal clear in liquid form and turns snowy or cloudy when refrigerated or in cooler temperatures.

Now, I understand that not everybody was brought up in the tropics around coconuts as part of daily life so not everyone naturally likes the flavour. Some, my husband for one, simply can’t stand the smell or taste. If you can’t eat coconut oil by the spoonful on its own, mix it into your food or beverages or cacao fruit and nut balls.

You can use it like a dressing. Dribble coconut oil over your favourite salads or vegetables to enhance the aroma and texture. As salads are often served chilled, or in the colder months of the year, you may want to, mix your coconut oil with olive oil (which has a low melting point) as coconut oil hardens in lower temperatures (it has a high melting point).

Or you can just use it as a cooking oil. Simply replace the cooking oil you’re currently using with coconut oil and you’re adding the benefits to your diet without increasing your total fat intake. It’s a win-win scenario.

Now, all this typing about coconuts is making me hungry……my scrummy essene bread is calling me!

Coconut tree image courtesy of Coastal Soul Image

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