If you've been living with your eyes open (a favorite expression of
my sarcastic and hilarious Spanish grandmother) you have certainly been
bombarded about the many benefits of coconut oil. If you're a beauty
aficionado, you have already rushed to market to purchase your bottle of
nature's "miracle" from the tropics only to discover it is actually not
in oil form at all, but a thick, white creamy mass. Don't fret my
darlings, your coconut oil has not gone rancid. It is simply solid
because of its high fat content and will remain so unless it's above 76
degrees Fahrenheit, at that point it will begin to melt. Trust us, it's
perfect as is.
Last year while I was vacationing in Tortola, I was strolling a pristine beach happily daydreaming when I suddenly saw what appeared to be a giant green turtle struggling, bobbing up and down frantically in the crisp Caribbean water. My inner Steve Irwin rushed into the sea to help rescue this poor creature and as I swam closer I realized that it was just a giant green coconut that had somehow made its way into the current. I grabbed it and made my way back to shore (shore was only 15 feet away) and studied this magnificent coconut. It was absolutely perfect without the slightest trace of a bruise, larger than the other green coconuts I had seen growing all over the island and so vibrant. Maybe it had something to do with being in salt water, but it was the loveliest shade of green and I notice everything green. A man who had been quietly watching me make a fool of myself asked me if he should open the coconut for me. Of course I said yes and in an instant he had created a perfect hole in my perfect coconut and told me to drink up. He told me it would be the best coconut juice of my life. Now, I must admit to never having been a fan of coconut water before, but this fresh juice was exceptional! The man told me that it had probably been in the water for at least a day and that was why it was so vibrant. Her proceeded to explain that between the salt in the sea, the gentle air, and the sun it was a gift of sweet nectar from the island especially for me. I really loved that sentiment and became a convert of raw coconut juice after that experience. I also learned that there is no better hydrator on earth than fresh coconut juice or water as it's often also called. Full of potassium, magnesium, and calcium this mineral combination creates electrolytes which the body needs to carry out electrical impulses. A healthy balance of electrolytes enables normal function of muscle contraction and keeps your heart beating at a regular pace. It is what professional athletes drink when they need to stay hydrated and to replenish lost electrolytes while physically active. Remember this the next time you've had a night of one too many sangrias and do as my Brazilian friends do drink fresh, raw coconut water followed by a fresh green juice. It truly is the best hangover cure.
As you probably know by now not all coconut oils are created the same. It is so important as a consumer that you know this and do your best to arm yourself with enough facts to make the best possible purchase. Many cheap coconut oils on the market are processed, refined, bleached, and deodorized and all of that makes your coconut oil simply, worthless. If you open a jar and it doesn't smell faintly of coconuts return it or toss it out as it has absolutely no nutritional value to it. The best coconut oil on the market comes from young, tender green coconuts and is labeled as virgin or extra virgin. At La Bella Figura we're particularly particular about cold pressed coconut oil, but expeller-pressed and centrifuged oils are other fine methods to extract the oil as long as there is no heating method used in the process. The loss of coconut oil's most coveted health benefit, lauric acid is often found when producers use high levels of heat to extract the oil. Lauric acid is found in high concentrations in virgin coconut oils with some oils containing anywhere from 50-57% percent of this prized medium-chained fatty acid. I'm going to reveal a bit of my science girl nerd side to explain how vital lauric acid is to your health and beauty needs.
Your body's first introduction of lauric acid is found in breast milk. The lauric acid in your mother's breast milk is critical to structuring and strengthening your immune system. In the body lauric acid gets converted into monolaurin, a compound which exhibits amazing anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal abilities. It works to destroy organisms like fungus, bacteria, and viruses by disrupting the lipid membranes of these organisms keeping your body and gut in happy balance. This fact is a huge reason advocates of breast feeding recommend mother's milk over formula to feed your brand new baby. The powerful effects of lauric acid is a baby's first form in developing a healthy immune system and in some parts of the world it makes a life or death decision for some infants. Lauric acid in coconut oil is natural and if you're suffering from a compromised immune system a recommended dose of three tablespoons a day is a beneficial amount. Because coconut oil is trans fat free and heart healthy you don't need to worry about consuming it as an oil they way other heart clogging oil concerns you. Personally, I scoop up a tablespoon of coconut butter, which is both the oil and the meat combined to also get a little extra plant protein into my diet. It also tastes incredible of fresh coconuts dried in the sun.
Supermodel Gisele is a lover of coconut oil as is Miranda Kerr and actress Gwyneth Paltrow
I know you're wondering about the beauty benefits and we're not going to exclude the most fun part of including coconut oil into your life. Let me tell you how I love using coconut oil and how important it has become to some members of my family. I use it as a mascara remover, scalp treatment, shaving "lotion", balm for feet, heels and elbows, eczema treatment, deep hair conditioner, bug bite healer, mouth wash, dog cleanser, body lotion, exfoliator, face mask...okay, this is getting ridiculous how I could go on about the dozens of way one can incorporate coconut oil into your daily beauty regimen. Because my niece suffers from eczema I make a homemade remedy that helps immensely when she has a flare up, even her doctor was incredulous from the results of my homemade remedy and now advises her patients to use coconut oil prior to prescribing a steroid cream. I'll share that recipe at the end of this post.
Because we worship this natural food and medicine we have already included coconut oil into our well loved Rainforest Hydration Treatment and this summer we'll introduce raw, organic coconut water into a new product that will no doubt blow you natural beauty lovers away in its incredible performance and gorgeous addition to our skincare line. We can't wait to get this on the market for you because it has been a favorite part of keeping my skin radiant and clear and of course we want you to have the same experience. Another very important part of choosing your coconut oil is purchasing one that comes in a glass container over a plastic tub. Glass will preserve the product in a natural way and the BPA found in most cheap plastic containers has the potential to leak into your raw product. (Remember this when purchasing beauty products too, unless you're 100% certain that the plastic is BPA free and made of recycled material reconsider your purchase.) Once you have found the perfect coconut oil store it in a cool place and not in the refrigerator. It's unnecessary to do so as coconut oil has a natural shelf life of at least 2 years. (All that great lauric acid acts as its own preservative!) You'll also want to avoid heating it to melt it down and instead warm it up in a cup with a bowl of hot water underneath. If you must heat it a bit make sure it's not at a temperature above 106 degrees otherwise you'll begin to kill off the living enzymes that make coconut oil a whole food and nutrient dense for health and beauty. Baking and cooking with coconut is great for flavor and health benefits, but it does end up removing some nutritional element to coconut oil as a superfood. Now, my recipe for a fantastic treatment to eczema, especially patches of skin that have become infected from scratching as was the case of my little niece Isabella. Please enjoy and if you have any great recipes feel free to share with us. We're always looking for a new way to use coconuts!
Bellas's Eczema Healer
1/4 cup raw, organic and virgin coconut oil ( I love these two brands for at home use, Dr. Bronner's Whole Virgin Coconut Oil and Radiant Life True Virgin Coconut Oil)
20 drops pure organic barbary fig seed oil
10 drops turmeric oil
5 drops clove oil
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in a glass container. A
jar of baby food is perfect for this amount and use daily on affected