By Christy Milan

Warm breezes, sandy beaches and the salty sea; these are the things I think of when I smell the scent of coconut. I love the smell and the benefits it gives me too. It seems that lately coconut everything can be found lining the store shelves. Coconut water, flour, oil and protein powders have flooded the market since the health food industry began marketing it. This led to big companies putting these healthy ingredients into their products. By now everyone thinks it’s just a hype to sell things and there will be another product in a few months that totes the claim it works wonders. Anyone can see the possible benefits online, however, by now we are so barraged by marketing ploys that we doubt the product or simplicity of the effects.

The reality of it all is that coconut oil has been used for centuries for many health and beauty regimens. In India coconut oil is part of the Ayurvedic medicine. This alternative practice of healing is 5000 years old. In Panama the locals enjoy a drink of coconut oil that is said to protect them from illness and help them recover from sickness. Coconut oil is the first medicine to be given in Jamaica, for whatever illness is contracted. It is also regarded as being beneficial to the heart. In the Philippines, the oil is used for burns, scrapes and bruises. It can also be massaged into aching joints and sore muscles. The use of the oil in hair gives it shine, thickness and protects hair color even in old age.

Different kinds of coconut oil are available, leading to more confusion of which is the best healthy alternative. Some versions include, organic, virgin, cold pressed, wet-milled and fractionated. The manufacturing or extraction method used can keep the healthy ingredients intake or can destroy them.

Medium-chain fatty acids are the ingredients that make coconut oil unique and worth adding to your diet.  Minimally processed natural coconut oil contains four types of good saturated fats, yes good. They can increase metabolism, increase good cholesterol and are great sources of energy. These are just some of the health benefits that are attributed to good quality coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil has only two medium-chain fatty acids, with one of the most beneficial acid, lauric acid, being removed. It is also more processed than other kinds of coconut oil. For this reason, this coconut oil is not a good choice. The top coconut oil that can provide the most benefits is wet milled fermented, heated, virgin coconut oil.

I began my personal research into coconut oil when I discovered I was vitamin D deficient. That seemed crazy to me considering I was in the pool all summer and lived in one of the sunniest places in the country. My interest in natural health led me to coconut oil long before it became a healthy alternative for anything. I wanted to research it myself and see if it works. I have used coconut oil for several issues. Such as:

• Tanning oil

• Toothpaste with baking  soda/ whitener

• Moisturizer

• Lip balm

• Face cleanser

• Make-up remover

•Recipes- On toast, in coffee, smoothies

• Hair conditioner

     I use the best coconut oil I can find and now there are many brands to choose from. Even local stores now carry coconut oil. My experience has seen many benefits to my health and even years later I still use coconut oil as a regimen every day. I prefer a natural solution and coconut oil is a whole food source that provides additional benefits. Not to mention the smell of this luscious oil recalls summer. I can treat myself to a little of the tropics and still feel good that it is natural and pure. Go out and try some for yourself, maybe that is just what you need, a scent of the tropics.