I am Coco – Loco

Cary, NC – Story by Kaynan Goldberg. Kaynan is CaryCitizen’s 12-year-old columnist on all things frugal, crunchy, healthy and green. She blogs at VeggiesGoCrunch. In this installment she continues her thoughts on the virtues of the coconut. Photo by Easa Shamih.

Cary, NC – Hi, everybody!  I know, I know – long time, no blog.  I’m not going to give you any lame excuses.  I have been lazy, but, hey, it’s summer!

Cure for the Crispy

Speaking of summer, my  friends and I went down to Jordan Lake (it’s about half an hour out of Raleigh) a few days ago and swam, splashed each other, walked around, etc.

It was a lot of fun – so much fun, I forgot to put sunscreen on.  For three hours.  Needless to say, I’m rather crispy today.

For some reason, the aloe stuff we got from Walgreen’s doesn’t like me, so I tried putting coconut oil on my burned face.  Aaaahhh, it felt good!  (Ironically, coconut oil can also be used as sunscreen, so if I had put it on before going to the lake, I could have saved myself a whole lot of woe.  Huh.)

Coconut Oil

Now, after my nice little story about lakeside fun and sun, it’s time for a super-serious post.  This post will be full of science-y…uh…stuff, and hopefully will make absolutely everything about coconut oil crystal-clear.  Or at least will make 60% of it a bit less murky.

First of all, what is coconut oil?  It is a white substance made from the meat of a mature coconut, which can be either dried or fresh when the oil is extracted.

Fresh meat results in a purer oil, which is practically sent from heaven, while coconut oil made from dried meat, or copra, is usually RBD’d – refined, bleached, and deodorized, and to be avoided at all costs!  It can even be hydrogenated, which means it is combined with hydrogen molecules to extend its shelf life.

Back in the 80’s, when people shunned coconut oil, hydrogenation was a big factor – hydrogenated coconut oil becomes a trans fat, and trans fats cause inflammation.  (More about fats in coconut oil in a second.)  Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, is never heated, or processed, really, beyond the bare minimum.  Sometimes the oil is extracted in a centrifuge machine – sometimes it is cold-pressed.  The oil is never bleached or refined, and it is never, ever hydrogenated.

MCFAs = Energy

Coconut oil used to have a bad reputation, thanks to it being 90% saturated fat.  But lately, people have been realizing that the fats in coconut oil are not bad.  They’re mainly medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are “essential fatty acids” and are used for energy.

MCFAs are digested differently from other fatty acids – they practically turn themselves into energy – and they’re only found in three known substances: human breast milk, horse milk, and coconut oil.  Coconut oil is even used in baby formula, because MCFAs are so important.

Aside from the great MCFAs, coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.  It boosts your immune system, and it helps your liver, too.

So, now you know why coconut oil is so amazing, but you probably don’t have any idea how much you can do with it.  Not only is it a good sunscreen (and sunburn remedy), it can be used:

  • To fry an egg or to make popcorn, or to cook just about anything
  • Instead of butter or veggie oil in baking, and it makes the best pie crust in the world.  Move over, Crisco!
  • To season your cast-iron skillet, if you have one.  And if you don’t, I’ll give you ten reasons why you should.  Or even better, I’ll save them for a new post!
  • To grease pans for baking – loaf pans, cookie sheets, et cetera
  • Energy booster – skip the Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy, and try a tablespoon of coconut oil!
  • And now, leaving the kitchen:
  • As a moisturizer when your hands are dry, or whenever, really
  • As conditioner for your hair for lovely, shiny locks
  • To remove makeup without burning your eyes
  • For eczema.  ‘Nuff said.
  • As toothpaste!  Yes, I did say toothpaste.
  • As mouthwash!  And yes, I did say mouthwash.
  • As deodorant!  And it does work, even after going roller skating all day.

And finally, my favorite application – acne treatment! As a twelve-year-old girl, I can honestly say even though putting oil on your face seems kind of backwards, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil, combined with the moisturizing effects, clear acne up quickly without drying your skin.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you thought I was crazy about coconut oil, there are total coco-locos out there with some pretty surprising suggestions about the stuff.

I’ve got to go make my sisters some popcorn and put some coconut oil on my sunburned face.  Bye!

(Note:  This is why my family buys coconut oil by the gallon.  Caveat emptor – once you try it, you’ll use it for everything!)

Read more from Kaynan’s blog here.

5 replies
  1. Janay
    Janay says:

    Wow, are you sure you are 12??? Anyway, I love your post and while there may not be a scientific explanation regarding coconut oil as a sunscreen, I can tell you that it absolutely works for me and my son. I think that diet also has alot to do with it, since we eat moslty veggies, and use coconut oil for cooking, moisturizing the skin, and take a spoonful sometimes. I totally agree that it makes the most amazing pie crust, plus baked french fries, fried potatoes, french toast, pancakes, well I could go on and on, it is so good. Tonight, I made a pot of beans and instead of a ham hock, (like I would use back in the day) I used a spash of coconut oil, delicous! anyway, I am all things cococut too, in fact after using it on my skin exclusively, all my friends keep telling me how great I look, hehehe……….

  2. Matt Young
    Matt Young says:

    We talked to our local coco-“nut”, Kaynan, and she told us that maybe this is in the “chicken soup as a cure for a cold category”. In her research, she found that coconut oil has been used in traditional tropical cultures for thousands of years as sun protection.
    She went on to say, “Now, I’m not going to go sit out in the sun from noon to 3 with no sunscreen except a little coconut oil. However, I’d rather use that then use the cancer-causing commercial sunscreen. I usually use all-natural sunscreen if I’m going to be at the pool for more than an hour or so. Please keep commenting and enjoy your summer!”

    – Matt, Managing Ed.

  3. Bryson Johnson
    Bryson Johnson says:

    We should all support a kid’s enthusiasm, curiosity and ambition to change the world! That’s what this is- a girl who doesn’t stand by letting or watching thing happen. What started as a leadership project for her martial arts school last year has developed into a movement! Check out veggiesgocrunch, and use it as a guide to assist young people in giving their level 10!

    Bryson Johnson
    Johnson’s Tiger Rock Martial Arts

  4. Susan C
    Susan C says:

    (You could use it as the base for a homemade sunscreen, but the active sunblocking comes from the zinc oxide.)

  5. Susan C
    Susan C says:

    Coconut oil CANNOT be used as sunscreen! Many sun products, which may not actually contain any coconut oil, have a coco-heavy fake pina-colada scent. But pure coconut oil, while it’s surely a great moisturizer, has absolutely no sunscreen capabilities.

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