Healthy Oils from the South Pacific
Islanders lead some of the healthiest lives possible, surrounded by nature, away from all the pollution that is characteristic of modern-day existence.
The people of the South Pacific have been relying on oils such as virgin coconut oil and palm oil for many of their beauty and dietary requirements.
Here is a breakdown of some of the healthy oils from the south pacific.
Virgin Coconut Oil
All through the South Pacific region, virgin coconut oil is known as the elixir of life. It has been used for generations by South Pacific islanders because of its numerous healing properties.
Virgin coconut oil is loved by these people not only because of its therapeutic properties but also for its aromatic flavor that can enhance the taste of any sort of meal.
Generally speaking, the whole diet of the people of the South Pacific has changed drastically over the past century or so. As modern civilization took over, there was a shift away from the traditional consumption of fruit, fish, and coconut, towards processed goods from abroad.
South Pacific islanders have historically focused on a high fiber, low-fat diet. Coconut, in all forms, was a major component of this diet. Their low fat, high fiber diet allowed the islanders to remain physically fit, lean, and active!
Furthermore, in the South Pacific, virgin coconut oil has regularly been used in beauty and skin-care procedures. While the islanders are slowly moving towards high-calorie imported goods, the modern world is slowly coming to terms with all that virgin coconut oil has to offer.
Virgin coconut oil is the preferred form of coconut oil because it is 100% unrefined and organic. It has a rich, nutty flavor that allows it to improve the flavor of anything you’re cooking with it.
There are many health benefits of coconut oil when it comes to cooking. Perhaps the greatest of these benefits is that virgin coconut oil does not break down into harmful free radicals even when exposed to high temperatures. This is because of the presence of medium-chained fatty acids or MCT’s. In fact, virgin coconut oil is far less susceptible to oxidation as compared to other vegetable oils that you can opt for.
As such, you can use virgin coconut oil for frying, roasting, sautéing, and even baking!
In fact, the best thing you can do is substitute margarine, butter, or vegetable oil, with virgin coconut oil, no matter what recipe you’re cooking. Virgin coconut oil can enhance the taste of fish, meat, vegetables, and can be used in all sorts of curries, stir-fries, pies, and any other delicious dish you wish to make!
In fact, all over Asia, coconut oil is regularly used in curries and is a staple! If you want to go all healthy, you can even sprinkle some coconut oil on top of any salad before eating it. Since coconut oil is suitable for baking, you can substitute it in place of butter or vegetable oil in recipes for muffins, biscuits, cakes, and even pancakes. The nutty flavor of the oil will most likely enhance the taste of your baked goodies!
Furthermore, if you regularly consume healthy smoothies, you can even use coconut oil in those as a way of regaining strength.
Virgin Coconut Oil and MCT’s
Virgin coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume. There is some misconception surrounding coconut oil. Some people, for example, assume that because of its high saturated fat content, it is actually not healthy.
While it is true that coconut oil does possess a certain degree of saturated fat (which isn’t good for the heart as it can raise cholesterol levels), what makes coconut oil superior to other oils is that it has an even higher concentration of a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides or MCT’s.
MCTs have shorter chain lengths compared to saturated fats from other sources, particularly animal sources, such as butter or beef.
Shorter chain fats are typically absorbed and then metabolized far differently than longer chain fats. It is this unique structure of fats and molecules that makes coconut oil far healthier to consume than any other oil. For centuries, the South Pacific islanders have been using virgin coconut oil as part of their health and beauty regimes.
Virgin coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer. It has softening, emolliating, and protective properties. It is also superior to an off-the-counter moisturizer you would buy from a store because it doesn’t have any harmful chemicals or preservatives. Store-bought moisturizers typically have preservatives meant to make the product last longer. These preservatives become very harmful for your skin in the long term.
In fact, lately, many organic beauty products have been marketing virgin coconut oil as a makeup remover and moisturizer. Because it is all-natural, it is free from all sorts of harmful chemicals, unlike store-bought makeup removers, and its oily texture easily removes all makeup and dirt from your face.
Virgin coconut oil is also great for your hair. It can condition the hair, give it volume, fight dandruff and give you long and lustrous locks, so long as you use it regularly. Once a week should be enough, perhaps. You can even mix virgin coconut oil with honey or egg yolk to make a moisturizing hair mask. Virgin coconut oil boasts of a molecular structure that allows it to be easily absorbed by your hair and skin.
The beauty industry is slowly recognizing the many benefits of virgin coconut oil and is using it as a key ingredient in hair care products, lotions, soaps, and massage oils. Virgin coconut oil is the best variety of coconut oil to purchase because it is free from all solvents, contaminants, pesticides, and preservatives, making it safe and healthy to consume and to apply topically.
If you live in a colder place where temperatures are below 24°C, your virgin coconut oil is likely to become solid. So to make it liquid again, you can warm the oil gently.
Palm oil, derived from the flesh of the palm fruit, is another one of the great oils that the South Pacific region has gifted us. The oil is extracted mostly by pressing and cooking. Palm oil differs from palm kernel oil because it has no major concentration of capric-myristic acids.
Palm oil has been in use for over five centuries now, in the South Pacific, but also in other places all over the world.
Palm oil composition includes – equal proportions of saturated as well as unsaturated fatty acids.
Currently, palm oil is not only used instead of other oils and margarine but is even included as a fat blend in a number of food products available.
Over the years, there has been a great deal of research on palm oil and its many nutritional benefits. Palm oil is, for the most part, a cooking oil, and is a far healthier alternative to any other vegetable oil, and even to butter and margarine.
There are many reasons why palm oil is probably superior to the oil you are currently using. Here are some of those reasons.
- Palm oil contains nearly negligible levels of cholesterol, particularly ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- Golden and red palm oil is rich in carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a strong anti-oxidant and Vitamin A.
- Linoleic acid is one of the constituent elements of palm oil. Linoleic acid is a type of fatty acid, which helps with the absorption of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from food.
- Palm oil is a natural source of vitamin E constituents, tocotrienols, and tocopherols. All of these three are together known for protecting against cancer and aging cells.
- Palm oil contains an ideal, healthy mix of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats are free from harmful trans fats and are therefore regarded as ‘good’ fats, some of the safest you can consume.
- Palm oil contains almost no trans fats, between 0 and 1%. Trans fats raise levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body and are therefore harmful. Most other oils go through a hydrogenation process meant to change the structure of the oil. Palm oil does not go through this process, and as a result, is completely healthy to consume. Since palm oil does not go through a hydrogenation process, it is one of the best oils for frying.
- Unlike palm oils, oils such as sunflower seed oil, corn oil, and soybean oil are unsaturated and tend to oxidize instantly. Palm oil doesn’t have this problem.
- Palm oil can be absorbed, digested, and utilized by the body more quickly than other vegetable oils. As it absorbs quickly, it also metabolizes quickly and gives you quick energy.
- A number of studies from the US, Europe, and Asia have found that consumption of palm oil does not make overall levels of cholesterol rise in the body.
- Other studies discovered that the concentration of Lipoprotein (found in the blood plasma), which is a potential risk indicator for heart disease, was reduced significantly when palm oil was used to provide dietary fat.
- Palm oil has the ideal balance between saturated, mono-saturated, and polyunsaturated fats. This balance is important if you want to improve the lipoprotein ratio in your body overall.
How To Use Palm Oil
Palm oil can be used in everyday cooking as a substitute for the vegetable oil or margarine that you typically used. It can also be added as a key ingredient to some of the ready-made foods you purchase from a grocery store.
Palm oil’s taste can be best described as ‘earthy’ and also somewhat savory. According to some people, palm oil tastes similar to pumpkin or a carrot. Palm oil is a staple in tropical and West African dishes. Similar to coconut oil, palm oil is also best suited to curries and other spicy foods.
Palm oil has a high smoke point – 450°F. As a result of this, it does not break into harmful free radicals when exposed to high temperatures. Palm oil is therefore perfectly suited for frying, roasting, baking, and even sautéing and remains entirely stable under heat.
Palm oil is often used as a raw material in peanut butter, Nutella, and other kinds of nut butters. It’s used as a stabilizing agent to ensure that the oil doesn’t separate and settle at the top of the jar. Palm oil is also commonly an ingredient in baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and bread, in protein bars, cereals, chocolates, creamers (tea and coffee), margarine, etc.
For a short period in the ’80s, people raised concerns about how tropical oils may not be all that great for people’s health. These concerns were put to rest after the realization that palm oil has a very low concentration of trans-fats. Today, palm oil continues to be used by food manufacturers in all sorts of products.
In addition to food items, palm oil is also an important ingredient in cosmetic products such as toothpaste, soaps, and makeup removers. These were some of the healthiest oils from the South Pacific.
Coconut oil and palm oil are both beneficial to consume as well as apply topically. They support heart health, skin health, and hair health. So if you have been relying on chemical products to keep your skin and hair glowing, it’s time to go all natural!
What are you waiting for? Grab your bottles of virgin coconut oil and palm oil today!