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WATCH: The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be used in a variety of dishes including Asian fare, cakes, candies and salad dressings. It also helps stimulate thyroid function, normalize blood sugar levels, decrease seizures and improve chronic fatigue.
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Coconut (Cocus nucifera) is the largest known seed on planet Earth. This fruit of the coconut palm tree is a member of the Palmaceae (Palm) family. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is named kalpa vriksha -- "the tree that supplies all that is needed to live." An ancient saying from the South Pacific is "He who plants a coconut tree plants vessels and clothing, food and drink, a habitation for himself and a heritage for his children."

Coconut oil was once considered a detrimental food for the heart due to the saturated fat content, but it is now known to contain fat that is beneficial in preventing heart disease. In countries where coconut oil is a primary fat, there are low rates of heart disease. According to The Weston Price Foundation, coconut oil contains a unique group of saturated fats known as short and medium chain fatty acids or MCY (medium chain triglycerides) like lauric acid, caprylic acid and myristic acid. The molecules of coconut oil are much smaller than most other fats and need less enzymatic activity to be broken down into fatty acids. This also enables coconut oil to be more easily digested, help the liver produce energy (rather than fat) and help increase metabolism. In fact, some find that consuming 2-4 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil per day promotes satiation and decreases cravings for carbohydrates and sweets.

Coconut oil is easily digestible -- so much so that it is often added to infant formulas and fed to infants and children who cannot digest other fats. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiprotozoal.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but becomes clear liquid oil at temperatures greater than 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius. It is also very stable, resisting oxidation like most other oils. It can be stored -- even unrefrigerated -- for many months. If you need it to liquefy, simply place the sealed jar of oil in a pot of hot water for a few minutes. Coconut oil can be used in a variety of dishes including Asian fare, cakes, candies and salad dressings. It also may help stimulate thyroid function, normalize blood sugar levels, decrease seizures and improve chronic fatigue.

Look for coconut oil that is unrefined and neither bleached, deodorized or hydrogenated. Select oils that smell and taste of coconuts.

According to traditional folklore, coconuts are under the dominion of the moon; they correspond to the element of water and the energies of purification, love, spirituality and intuition. Look below for a Coconut Snow Balls recipe that uses this delicious plant.

Coconut Snow Balls
1 cup raw coconut oil
6 to 8 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon Celtic salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unsweetened, dehydrated, grated coconut
¾ cup hemp seed

Blend the honey, salt, vanilla and coconut butter together well. Add the coconut. Form into one-inch diameter balls. Roll in hemp seed. Chill in the freezer. Serve cold. Makes about 20 balls.

Join me for a workshop on "Healing Herbs and Raw Food," July 7 to July 10 at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York: Exploring the edible and healthful properties of local plants, dosages, safety issues and herbal preparations. How to use herbs, foods and essential oils to improve common health conditions such as insomnia, fatigue and depression, immunity, energy, sexuality, addiction and longevity. We will take walks around the Omega property to identify and taste local growing plants. 800-944-1001 or 845-266-4444