Tomatoes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts

Tomatoes: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts

Tomatoes are ubiquitous in the American diet. They appear in sauces, salads, juices, soups and elsewhere. Their prevalence is good news; tomatoes are healthful as well as tasty and versatile. They are especially lauded for their cardiovascular benefits.

"Tomatoes are low in calories, (about 25 calories per one medium-size tomato) yet filled with nutrition," said Heather Mangieri, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian and nutritionist, health author and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They are good sources of several vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, especially the carotenoid lycopene, which gives tomatoes their vibrant red color.

But Americans didn’t always take advantage of tomatoes’ goodness. Tomatoes were used as a decorative plant until the late 1800s. People thought tomatoes were poisonous, probably because they belong to the nightshade family, according to the Texas A & M University horticulture department. (Tomatoes do, in fact, contain alkaloids that can cause adverse reactions in some people.)

However, while people in North America were shunning tomatoes, indigenous peoples in South America, as well as Europeans, were chowing down. Tomatoes are native to the region of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Around the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors began shipping them around the globe.

Italians were among the first Western populations to embrace the tomato. In Italy, a tomato is a pomodoro, or golden apple, which probably refers to yellow- or orange-colored tomatoes. The French sometimes call them "love apples" — pomme d’amour, according to the George Mateljan Foundation’s World’s Healthiest Foods website.

Fruit or vegetable?

Whether a tomato is classified as a fruit or a vegetable depends on whom you ask. A botanist would tell you that a tomato is a fruit as well as a berry because it develops from a single fertilized ovary.

A chef or U.S. politician, however, might disagree. In 1886, in a tax lawsuit with a tomato importer, the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are vegetables, according to National Geographic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists tomatoes and tomato products in the vegetable group in the National Nutrient Database. But the primary reason we think of tomatoes as vegetables is their savory taste, which we associate with main meals rather than dessert or snacks.

There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. They can bered, pink, yellow, orange/tangerine, green, purple, brown, or black, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Among the largest varieties are beefsteak and beef master tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are medium in size, and cherry and grape tomatoes are small.

The term "heirloom tomatoes" has several different meanings. Traditionally, the term refers to seeds that get handed down from generation to generation within a family. But there are also "commercial heirloom" tomatoes in the marketplace, which are often produced from cross-breeding and open pollination.

Nutrient profile

"Tomatoes are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin A, C, B2 … folate and chromium," said Mangieri. The vitamins act as antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals to stop the condition of oxidative stress, according to an article in Pharmacognosy Review. Free radicals cause cell damage and disruption that can contribute to diseases. The minerals play important roles in ensuring the body functions properly.

"There are also a variety of carotenoids [including lycopene and beta-carotene], the phytonutrients that are thought to play a role in chronic disease prevention," said Mangieri. Mangieri noted that cooking tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene you absorb.

"Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, a mineral that Americans fall short on in their diet. One medium tomato contain almost 300 mg of potassium," said Mangieri. "One cup of tomato juice contains 534 milligrams of potassium, and a half-cup of tomato sauce has 454 milligrams." Potassium is associated with heart health and proper nerve and muscle function.

Here are the nutrition facts for tomatoes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:

Health benefits

Heart health

Lycopene is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, said Mangieri. A 2011 review of studies on lycopene and heart disease, published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, found that most research supports the positive relationship between lycopene intake or low-dose supplementation and reduced risk of heart disease. This is likely due to two of lycopene’s actions involving fats in the bloodstream. Lycopene, and some other phytonutrients, can lower lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is when fats in the blood are damaged by oxygen and in excess can trigger gradual blocking of blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Lycopene has also been shown to result in lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Beta-carotene may help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, at least in middle-age and elderly men, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess fat around the waist. It is often considered a precursor to heart disease and diabetes. In the study, men with the most beta-carotene intake had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome, as well as reduced waist circumference. Scientists suspect this is the result of beta-carotene’s antioxidant activities.

Phytonutrients in tomatoes can also help reduce excessive platelet clumping, which can lead to unwanted clotting and blood vessel blockages, according to a study of 19 fruits and 26 vegetables published in Blood Coagulation Fibrinolysis. The study found tomatoes to be among the most effective foods in this regard.

Vitamin C, too, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at more than 100,000 people and found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower risk of developing heart disease. Those with the highest vitamin C levels in their plasma had even more reduced rates of heart disease. Scientists theorize that vitamin C may have cardiovascular benefits because it is an antioxidant. It also may lower bad LDL cholesterol and keep arteries flexible, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

"A diet rich in potassium helps to offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure," said Mangieri. This is because potassium promotes vasodilation, or widening of the blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure. One study of 12,000 adults, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium each day lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease by 37 percent and 49 percent, respectively, compared to those who took 1,793 mg per day.

Antioxidant power

Though most of the phytonutrients and vitamins in tomatoes have potent antioxidant properties, lycopene is a standout. In a test tube study published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, researchers found that lycopene was most effective at deactivating singlet oxygen (a harmful free radical) of all the carotenoids. This could be because lycopene has a unique molecule shape that is highly effective in deactivating free radicals.

Strong bones

Lycopene may promote bone health and help prevent the development of osteoporosis. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that participants with higher levels of lycopene in their blood were less likely to experience hip or nonvertebral fracture. Furthermore, a study published in Osteoporosis International found that postmenopausal women who added lycopene to their diets for four months saw decreased bone resorption (breakdown of bones).

Eyesight

Tomatoes contain both vitamin A and beta-carotene, which can turn into vitamin A when digested. Vitamin A is known to be necessary for vision. It is required to keep the retina working correctly and for low-light and color vision, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. It also plays a role in eye development.

Digestion

Mangieri noted tomatoes’ high fiber content, which fills about 9 percent of your daily needs per cup. This can help promote smooth digestion, healthy stool bulk and regularity, which helps maintain colorectal health. According to the Mayo Clinic, a high-fiber diet may help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis (small, painful pouches on the colon).

Skin

Tomatoes’ vitamin C and vitamin A content is good for your skin. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, which keeps your skin looking youthful and aids in wound healing, and vitamin A is a compound in retinoids, which are popular in anti-aging skin treatments.

Beta-carotene may help protect against sunburn, according to a meta-analysis published in Photochemistry and Photobiology. The researchers looked at several studies and found that participants who took beta-carotene supplements for 10 weeks had lower rates of sunburn. For each month of additional supplementation, the protection level increased.

Cancer prevention

A 1999 review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that tomatoes and lycopene were associated with reduced risk of cancers of the prostate, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix. The associations were strongest for prostate, lung and stomach cancers.

Much research has focused on the relationship between reduced prostate cancer risk and tomatoes. For example, a large-scale study of nearly 50,000 men published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found an inverse relationship between lycopene from tomatoes and prostate cancer risk. Men with the highest levels of lycopene were 21 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those with the lowest lycopene levels.

Another study published in PloS One found that alpha-tomatine, a saponin phytonutrient in tomatoes, was associated with the death of prostate cancer cells in a laboratory setting. Alpha-tomatine was also associated with anti-growth effects in non-small cell lung cancer cells, according to a study in Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics.

A 2015 review published in the Journal of Cancer Prevention found that lycopene lowered the risk of stomach cancer through its antioxidant actions. Researchers looked primarily at participants who smoked, suffered from chronic inflammation or had elevated levels of stomach bacteria Helicobacter pylori, though they noted that poor diet and family history could also be risk factors lessened by lycopene.

Stroke

Lycopene may decrease stroke risk, at least in men. According to a 12-year study published in Neurology, middle-age men with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood had a 55 percent reduced rate of any kind of stroke. They had a 59 percent reduced rate of strokes from blood clots, the most common kind.

Cognition

The beta-carotene in tomatoes may help protect against cognitive decline. A study published in JAMA found that men who took beta-carotene supplements long term — the study covered 18 years — were less likely to lose cognitive abilities. Men who took beta-carotene supplements for only one year did not see results. The authors speculate that the long-term results were the result of beta-carotene acting as an antioxidant, but could also be the result of lifestyle factors or other characteristics. More studies are needed.

Additionally, some studies have linked diets with tomatoes to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.

Asthma

Some small-scale studies suggest that the lycopene content in tomatoes may help asthma sufferers. One study, published in Free Radical Research,found that taking tomato extract reduced lung inflammation. Another study, published in Allergy, found that a daily dose of lycopene for a week reduced exercise-induced asthma in 55 percent of participants. Researchers suspect this was because of an antioxidant effect in the lungs.

Nerve, muscle and cell health

"Tomatoes are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps nerves and muscles communicate," said Mangieri. For example, potassium helps regulates your heart beat. "It helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells," she added.

Risks of eating tomatoes

Like many fruits and vegetables with edible skins, tomatoes are often covered in pesticides. Tomatoes ranked ninth on the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list, which compiles the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. Try to buy organic tomatoes if you can.

The leaves of a tomato plant should not be eaten. They contain large concentrations of alkaloids, according to World’s Healthiest Foods.

If eaten in reasonable amounts, tomatoes should produce no serious side effects. If you eat an abundance of tomatoes daily, however, you may experience problems from having too much lycopene or potassium. Consuming more than 30 mg of lycopene daily could potentially cause nausea, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating, according to the American Cancer Society.

People with serious hyperkalemia, or too much potassium in their blood, should talk to their doctors about the appropriate amount of tomato consumption. According to the National Institutes of Health, hyperkalemia can result in irregular heartbeats and other cardiovascular problems, as well as reduced muscle control.

Enjoying tomatoes

Mangieri, a self-described tomato lover, provided some tips on incorporating more tomatoes into your diet. She said:

  • Tomatoes are definitely better fresh, but that does not mean that you can’t enjoy them in the winter months. Place fresh tomatoes in zip-lock bags and freeze them for the winter. They can be used to make soups, stews and chili during the colder months.
  • Add a layer of fresh, sliced tomatoes to lasagna. It’s a great way to boost the nutrients of this dish.
  • Eat baby tomatoes with hummus or low-fat dressing.
  • Fresh tomatoes sliced with fresh mozzarella, topped with fresh basil then drizzled with olive oil.

Additional resources

Despite drought, California almond acreage rose 6 percent in 2015 – Orchards, Nuts & Vines – Capital Press

Despite drought, California almond acreage rose 6 percent in 2015

Tim Hearden/Capital Press A new almond orchard near Tracy, Calif., is in its first growing season. Overall almond acreage in California increased by 6 percent in 2015, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Tim Hearden/Capital Press A new almond orchard near Tracy, Calif., is in its first growing season. Overall almond acreage in California increased by 6 percent in 2015, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service

SACRAMENTO — The drought has done little to slow the growth of almond acreage in California, as the more than 1.1 million overall acres planted in 2015 was 6 percent more than the previous year.

Of last year’s total plantings, 890,000 acres were bearing and 220,000 acres were non-bearing, and preliminary bearing acreage for this year is estimated at 900,000 acres, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reports.

The increase came despite removals of about 45,000 acres of trees in 2015 — much of which occurred after harvest — and continues a trend in which acreage has doubled in the last 20 years, according to government and industry statistics.

However, the Almond Board of California downplays the trend’s impact on water resources, citing studies that found most new acreage has replaced other irrigated crops and the total amount of water used by agriculture has held steady since 2000.

“Almonds take up about 14 percent of the state’s irrigated farmland but use 9.5 percent of California’s agricultural water — less than a proportionate share,” board president and chief executive officer Richard Waycott said in a statement. “Because of the industry’s commitment to research and efficiency, growers use 33 percent less water to grow a pound of almonds than they did two decades ago.”

As lucrative prices have continued to encourage growers to switch to nuts from other crops, the almond board has fought diligently in the past couple of years to rebut critics who charge the industry places too much of a burden on the environment. Last summer, the board set aside $2.5 million in research into water efficiency, honeybee health and best practices for the current fiscal year.

The board argues that almond trees provide certain benefits to the environment, including groundwater recharge potential and carbon sequestration.

Even as drastic cutbacks in surface water during the drought have prompted some growers in the San Joaquin Valley to remove trees, Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera counties still led the state in 2015 in terms of acreage, combining for 73 percent of California’s bearing orchards, according to NASS.

Nonpareils continued to be the leading variety with 310,646 total acres in 2015, followed by Monterey (102,299), Butte (86,152), Carmel (81,449) and Padre (55,493), the agency reported.

The estimates were based on a voluntary survey sent to about 6,000 almond growers as well as almond nursery sales and pesticide application data maintained by county agricultural commissioners and the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, NASS explained.

Wal-Mart to Drop Wild Oats Organic Food Brand – WSJ

Wal-Mart to Drop Wild Oats Organic Food Brand

ENLARGE

Wal-Mart is dropping its Wild Oats organic food brand, according to sources, two years after introducing it as a way to bring inexpensive organics to a larger audience. Photo: Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

By Sarah Nassauer

Updated April 25, 2016 7:43 p.m. ET

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is phasing out its Wild Oats organic food brand, according to people familiar with the matter, dropping a line of products introduced two years ago in an effort to bring inexpensive organics to the masses.

The world’s largest retailer has unwound a complicated deal with private-equity firm Yucaipa Cos. that allowed it to sell Wild Oats pasta sauces, cereals and other shelf-stable products, the people said. The products will disappear from Wal-Mart shelves in coming months, they added.

Two years ago, Wal-Mart turned to Yucaipa as a faster way to get more organic products on shelves as competitors such as Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. reported skyrocketing sales of their own natural and organic store brands. Yucaipa, which is run by billionaire Ron Burkle, bought the Wild Oats brand after the grocery chain was sold to rival Whole Foods Market Inc.

Now Wal-Mart is switching tactics, hoping to add organic products to shelves in other ways, including selling more fresh produce and adding more organic food to its existing store brand, Great Value, these people said. Wal-Mart would have to further expand its own network of organic-food suppliers.

Spokespeople for Wal-Mart and Yucaipa declined to comment.

Wal-Mart’s move to drop Wild Oats is “an odd step to take when we know they are trying to increase private-label penetration and trying to target the higher-income consumer,” said Laura Kennedy, principal analyst at Kantar Retail, a research and consulting firm. But if Wal-Mart was “losing money to a middleman, well, this is not a time Wal-Mart wants to be losing anything.”

More grocers are using organic food to lure shoppers to stores, especially more desirable well-heeled customers.

Sales of food labeled organic rose 16.7% to $13.4 billion for the year ended April 2, according to Nielsen data. Sales of all food rose 1.6% to $468 billion during that time.

Wal-Mart is the country’s largest grocer, but has been slow to become an organic powerhouse on the same scale, stymied by the food’s often higher production costs and unique supply chain.

Overall, Wal-Mart has been battling slow-growing sales and a shift to online shopping. It recently closed more than 150 U.S. stores.

In recent months Wal-Mart executives have said they are making a renewed push to increase organic-food sales. Adding food perceived as healthier is “not our affluent-customer strategy, its broad-based strategy, but it’s a key piece to being relevant with that customer base,” Wal-Mart Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Bratspies said in a November interview. Wal-Mart is adding more organic fresh produce and small organic brands to shelves, executives said.

Some Wild Oats products sold well at Wal-Mart, particularly staples such as pasta sauce priced at about $2 a jar, the same as nonorganic brands like Prego and Ragu, the people familiar with the matter said. But the brand didn’t grow as quickly as some at Wal-Mart hoped, in part because the products weren’t in every store and weren’t called out on Wal-Mart’s shelves at the time, these people added.

Last year, Wal-Mart began adding purple signage to shelves to help shoppers notice organic items, Mr. Bratspies said in November. “That is one thing I would say we haven’t done a good enough job on,” generally.

Wild Oats started out as a chain of natural-food markets and was purchased by Whole Foods in 2007. After a challenge from antitrust authorities and long court battle, Whole Foods agreed to sell dozens of Wild Oats stores and the rights to the brand name.

Mr. Burkle’s Los Angeles-based Yucaipa bought the brand around 2012, licensing it to Wal-Mart.

When Wild Oats hit Wal-Mart shelves in 2014, the retailer touted it as a watershed moment that created a new price position for organic food, about 25% lower than national brands, making the food accessible to all.

Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer

Health Benefits of Cucumber | Healthy Food Master

Health Benefits of Cucumber

Health Benefits of Cucumbers

This vegetable belong to the Cucurbitaceae family such as pumpkin, and watermelon. Cucumbers are vegetable with high water content (around 95% water), they are naturally low in calories also low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. There is nothing better than good salad with Cucumbers in hot summer days because it will help you to stay hydrated. Not just in hot summer days you may eat cucumbers all year round because it’s loaded with nutrients, vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, Vitamin K, copper, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. So it can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies in your body. Let’s see the health benefits of this cool vegetable.

Antioxidant Properties. Antioxidant properties comes by containing of numerous antioxidants one of them is Vitamin C who is well-known and also beta-carotene. Antioxidant flavonoids are also contained in Cucumbers apigenin, quercetin, luteolin, and kaempferol,6 which provide more benefits. As instance quercetin many believe prevents histamine release. Kaempferol in other hand may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

Bone Health. low intakes of vitamin K in your diet may be associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. By eating a proper intake of fruits or vegetables you can provide vitamin K for example one cup of this vegetable provides 11% of your daily needs. Vitamin K is important mineral that can improve calcium absorption in the bones which is essential for optimal bone health.

Weight Loss and Digestion. Because Cucumber is high water content and low in calories makes it good diet for people who are looking for weight loss. The dietary fiber and high water content in this vegetable are excellent team to ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, also aiding digestion. As a remedy for chronic constipation may be effective daily consumption of cucumbers.

Reduce bad breath. Bacteria in the mouth usually can cause bad breath, Fiber and water-rich vegetables such as cucumbers can boost your mouth’s saliva production, saliva in the mouth helps for washing the bacteria which cause the odor in the mouth.

Lowering Blood Pressure. Cucumbers contain potassium known mineral who is associated with lower blood pressure levels. For your body to function properly is crucial a proper balance of potassium inside and also outside your cells.

Reduces cholesterol. Because of compound called sterols who is contained in cucumber it helps to reduce bad cholesterol.

What Else Are Cucumbers Good For? helps in revitalizing the skin, drink cucumber juice daily can control hair fall, effective remedy for fight different kinds of cancer, good for dental health. Well Cucumbers are really powerhouse vegetable and adding them into your daily diet is no mistake.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil | Organic Facts

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a multitude of health benefits, which include but are not limited to skin care, hair care, improving digestion and immunity against a host of infections and diseases. The oil is used not just in tropical countries, where coconut plantations are abundant, but also in the US and the UK. People are discovering the wonders this oil can create and it is again gaining popularity throughout the world. Let us see how many of these benefits you are aware of.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Skin care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil that acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skin, including dry skin. Unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin from the application of coconut oil. Therefore, it is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of skin, which normally accompany aging.

It helps in preventing degenerative diseases premature aging due to its well-known antioxidant properties. It also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. For that exact reason, coconut oil forms the base ingredient of various body care products like soaps, lotions, and creams that are used for skin care.

Hair care: Coconut oil helps in healthy growth of hair and gives your hair a shiny quality. It is also highly effective in reducing protein loss, which can lead to various unattractive or unhealthy qualities in your hair. It is used as hair care oil and is used in manufacturing various conditioners and dandruff relief creams. It is normally applied topically for hair care.

Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps the re-growth process of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing and healing damaged hair. Research studies indicate that coconut oil provides better protection to hair from damage caused by hygral fatigue.

By regularly massaging your head with coconut oil, you can ensure that your scalp is free of dandruff, even if your scalp is chronically dry. It also helps in keeping your hair and scalp free from lice and lice eggs.

Heart diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for heart health. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats.In reality, it is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in actively preventing various heart problems like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil does not lead to increase in LDL levels, and it reduces the incidence of injury and damage to arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis. Study suggests that intake of coconut oil may help to maintain healthy lipid profiles in pre-menopausal women.

Weight loss: Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. Research suggests that coconut oil helps to reduce abdominal obesity in women. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy and helping obese and overweight people lose the weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who use coconut oil every day as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Immunity: It strengthens the immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which research has supported as an effective way to deal with viruses and bacteria that cause diseases like herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. Coconut oil helps in fighting harmful bacteria like listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Digestion: Internal functions of coconut oil occur primarily due to it being used as cooking oil. It helps to improve the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion-related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion. It also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Candida: Candida, also known as Systemic Candidiasis, is a tragic disease caused from excessive and uncontrolled growth of yeast called Candida Albicans in the stomach. Coconut provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida, both externally and internally. Its high moisture retaining capacity keeps the skin from cracking or peeling off. Capric acid, Caprylic acid, caproic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid found in coconut oil help in eliminating Candida albicans.

Further, unlike other pharmaceutical treatments for candida, the effects of coconut oil is gradual and not drastic or sudden, which gives the patient an appropriate amount of time to get used to the withdrawal symptoms or Herxheimer Reactions (the name given to the symptoms accompanying body’s rejection of toxins generated during elimination of these fungi). But, in the treatment of this condition, people should systematically and gradually increase their dosages of coconut oil and shouldn’t initially start with a large quantity.

 

Healing and Infections: When applied to infected areas, coconut oil forms a chemical layer that protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Coconut oil is highly effective on bruises because it speeds up the healing process of damaged tissues.

According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills the viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, and other serious health risks. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhoea. Finally, coconut oil is also effective in the elimination of fungi and yeast that cause ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, and diaper rash.

Other Benefits

Coconut oil is strongly recommended for a number of other benefits that are explained below. Using coconut oils has been shown to mildly help the following:

Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases because those substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing the work load of the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

Kidney: It helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps to dissolve kidney stones.

Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.

Stress relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying it to the head, followed by a gentle massage, helps to eliminate mental fatigue. According to research virgin coconut oil gives relief from stress and has antioxidant properties.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the development of bones. Thus, it is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental care: Calcium is an important component of our teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in developing strong teeth. It also stops tooth decay. Recent research suggests that coconut oil is beneficial in reducing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.

HIV and cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing a person’s viral susceptibility for HIV and cancer patients. Preliminary research has shown an indication of this effect of coconut oil on reducing the viral load of HIV patients.

Coconut oil is often used by athletes, body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that it contains less calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy, and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps boost energy and endurance, and generally enhances the performance of athletes.

Coconut oil and Alzheimer’s disease: The research conducted by Dr. Newport states that the oil is useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from this there is no scientific evidence or traditional knowledge of coconut oil being used for treating Alzheimer’s. In fact, it is not traditionally thought that the oil helps in boosting the function of the brain in any form.

Use as Carrier Oil

Carrier oils are those oils, which easily penetrate or absorb into the skin and thus facilitate seepage or absorption of other oils (such as essential oils) and herbal extracts through the skin when mixed into it.It is easily absorbed through the skin’s pores and thus is used as carrier oil. Furthermore, being one of the most stable oils, it doesn’t go rancid, nor does it let the other oils, herbal extracts, or medicines spoil inside of it. It does not alter the properties of the oils and herbs mixed within it. It also protects the herbs and oils from microbial or fungal interactions. Coconut oil is expensive in several countries; however, in tropical countries its cost is low enough to make it affordable as carrier oil.

Buying Coconut Oil

There are primarily 6 varieties of coconut oil: pure, refined, virgin, organic, fractionated and extra virgin (this is most debated form as there are no standards on virginity and it is unclear as to what qualifies as extra virgin oil). When you want to buy coconut oil, first of all, you need to decide why you need it and where you are going to use it. Your choice should be based on your need, like whether you want it for edible purposes or as a carrier oil to be used in aromatherapy, for massaging, for weight loss, or for medicinal purposes. Below is a list of such purposes and the type of coconut oil to buy.

Purpose————–Preferable Type to Buy

Cooking—————-Refined

Weight Loss———–Virgin

As a Carrier Oil——-Virgin, Fractionated

Good Health———-Virgin, Organic

Massaging————-Pure, Refined

Hair——————–Pure, Refined

Medicinal uses——–Virgin, Virgin Organic

Furthermore, before you buy coconut oil, you should keep in mind that for edible and therapeutic uses, refined oil is the best as it is hygienic and clean. Unrefined oil is good for external applications like hair care and skin care.

How to use and store it?

Unlike most other oils, coconut oil has a high melting point – about 24 to 25 degrees Celsius or 76-78 Fahrenheit. Therefore it is solid at room temperature and melts only when the temperature rises considerably. It is often in this form, and obviously, don’t keep it in your refrigerator.

If you are using coconut oil for topical purposes, especially hair care, just melt the oil (if it is solid) by keeping the bottle in the sun or soaking it in warm water. You can also take some oil out and put it in a small bowl and heat the bowl over a flame (don’t use a microwave). Then, take the oil on your palm and apply it to your hair. If you want to use it for internal consumption, simply replace butter or vegetable oils with coconut oil in your recipes. Remember, you don’t need to completely switch to coconut oil, because then you will lose the other benefits of more traditional oils and dairy products.

In colder countries, coconut oil comes in good, broad containers. However, if you get it in a pack (tetra-pack or plastic pouch), after opening the pack, be sure to keep the oil in containers with tight lid and broad mouth so that you can scoop it out with a spoon if it solidifies. Keeping it sealed or lidded is necessary because there are other admirers of coconut oil (ants, cockroaches, other insects and rodents just love it!).

I don’t like the taste of coconut oil. What should I do?: Try using it in a variety of different recipes. However, if you get nauseated after eating coconut oil, don’t force yourself to eat it. As can happen with any food item, your body may be allergic to coconut oil and it is best not to consume it.

Where to buy from?: Pure and refined coconut oils are easily available in most grocery stores, especially in tropical countries. For other varieties, you may need to search in larger department stores or drug stores. In countries which do not produce coconut oil, like the US, Canada, and most of Europe, you will need to visit big grocers or grocery stores in localities which have higher populations of people from India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and coastal Africa. Obviously, you can order it online as well and have it delivered wherever you live.

Which brand to buy?: When you are buying coconut oil in packs, go for the reliable and reputable brands. Read the contents carefully and check the manufacturing date (although it has a long shelf life, fresher is still better).

How much to pay?: The price of coconut oil depends on many factors such as its availability (cheaper where it is produced and more costly in other places, and it is even more expensive when ordered via phone, Internet etc.). The price is also affected by demand, variety (the refined one costs the least, followed by the fractionated, the virgin, the organic and the organic virgin coconut oils), brand, and quantity (buying in bulk costs a little less).

How much to buy? Buy only as much you can consume in few months, because despite the fact that coconut oil does not go rancid for a long time, it is not wise to store it unnecessarily. You will get better results with fresh coconut oil.

Composition of Coconut Oil

More than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats (Don’t panic! It’s not as bad as it sounds, read to the end of this review and your opinion may change), along with traces of a few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Virgin coconut oil is no different from this.

Saturated fatty acids: Most of them are medium chain triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well in the body’s systems.

  • Lauric acid is the chief contributor, representing more than 40% of the total, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin. Lauric acid is helpful in dealing with viruses and diseases.
  • Capric acid reacts with certain enzymes secreted by other bacteria, which subsequently convert it into a powerful antimicrobial agent, monocaprin.
  • Caprylic acid, caproic acid and myristic acid are rich in antimicrobial and antifungal properties

Unsaturated fatty acids: Polyunsaturated fatty acids- linoleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids- Oleic acid

Poly-phenols: Coconut contains Gallic acid, which is also known as phenolic acid. These polyphenols are responsible for the fragrance and the taste of coconut oil and Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in these polyphenols.

Derivatives of fatty acid: Betaines, ethanolamide, ethoxylates, fatty esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides and polyol esters.

Derivatives of fatty alcohols: Fatty chlorides, fatty alcohol sulphate and fatty alcohol ether sulphate

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals such as iron.

Hope this will be of some help to you. Got any suggestions? Your comments are welcome! You may also share this information with your friends. Thanks!