Are you getting all the health benefits you possibly can out of coconut oil?
It’s not the “bad seed” it was once thought to be due to its high saturated fat content. In fact, just the opposite is true.
Coconut oil, it turns out, is one of the healthiest things you can eat. It’s also useful for many other things, from skin care to gum health!
Look for unrefined, virgin coconut oil. “Extra virgin” really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to coconut oil. It’s the same as virgin, and refers to coconut oil that has been expeller-pressed from the meat of mature coconuts.
Unrefined coconut oil has more of a coconut aroma, so if that bothers you, try the refined kind, which is also better for people with potential allergies. Stay away from fractionated (liquid) coconut oil, which has had its lauric acid (the most valuable part!) chemically removed.
Here are a few ways you can use coconut oil:
1. Coffee drink
I love to start my day with a “coconut latte” made with coffee and about a tablespoon of coconut oil. Blend it on high for 20 seconds, and it froths right up like a real latte — but it’s vegan and much better for you than using milk!
I also use single-source coffee, because blends can contain mold. It’s best to use the highest-quality coffee you can find.
Because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil has a high smoke point — so it’s excellent for stir frying and other types of cooking that involve high heat.
Other types of oil can break down during the cooking process. It’s best not to cook with extra virgin olive oil, for instance, because it has a low smoke point. If it gets hot enough to smoke, that destroys extra-virgin olive oil’s (EVOO) heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Olive oil is far better used right out of the bottle on salads, where its subtle flavor adds a lot to the texture and taste of your veggies. EVOO with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar on your salad is much better for you than any dressing out of a bottle — tastier, too!
3. Help with thyroid function
Coconut oil is about half lauric acid, which is very nourishing to the thyroid.
New research shows a link between consumption of polyunsaturated fats (such as those in canola, soy, and other types of common vegetable oils) and under-active thyroid. This may be contributing to the obesity epidemic, since these PUFAs are in most processed foods.
Soy oil appears to be the worst culprit, and unfortunately it is the most widely used oil in processed foods — including just about everything from mayonnaise to marinated meats.
The best way you can avoid soy oil and other PUFAs is to make your own food from scratch and eliminate processed foods altogether. It’s not as hard as you might think! Homemade foods are a great way to incorporate coconut oil, as well as other healthy fats such as grass-fed butter (or ghee) and EVOO.
4. Boost metabolism
If you’re trying to lose weight, coconut oil can help! Several studies show that its medium-chain fatty acids can be especially beneficial when it comes to fat loss, particularly belly fat.
Coconut oil is actually thermogenic, meaning it tends to make our bodies burn almost as many calories as it contains. This is good news for those wanting to slim down!
5. Better gut health
Coconut oil helps decrease inflammation and repair tissue. And because it is antimicrobial, it can help promote a healthy gut by inhibiting pathogenic microorganisms while allowing beneficial ones to thrive. It can help clear up candida, fungi, parasites, and viruses while helping to restore beneficial gut flora.
6. Oral health/brighter smile
Have you ever tried oil pulling? It’s an ancient Ayurvedic detoxification technique that involves swishing oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Done daily, it can even whiten your teeth after a few weeks!
Coconut oil works very well for oil pulling, or you can try sesame or sunflower oil. Because of its antimicrobial properties, coconut oil is the best choice if you have gum problems or bad breath.
Swish the oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes, and then be sure to spit it out. You don’t want to swallow, because all the toxins the oil has removed from your body are now in the oil.
Spit it in the trash when you’re done, because if you spit it into the sink on a regular basis it could clog your pipes. Rinse with warm water or saltwater afterward.
7. Skin care
Since coconut oil has only one ingredient, you don’t need to worry about it containing a laundry list of things you can’t pronounce — and no petroleum products or cancer-causing chemicals.
It works well for moisturizing your skin and keeping it soft and supple. The only drawback is that it can exacerbate comedones (blackheads or whiteheads) in some people, so if you have oily skin, you might want to use something else on your face. You can still use coconut oil on the rest of your body, though.
Also, if you have skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, coconut oil can make the irritated patches worse.
If you do suffer from these conditions, it helps a lot to eat Micronized Purple Rice, which helps your body heal itself from the inside. Lots of people with eczema or psoriasis have seen big improvements with MPR.
8. Homemade sugar scrub
We all know how bad sugar is for us when we eat it, but sugar scrubs are delightful for cleansing your skin in the shower.
Store-bought ones can be pretty pricy. Homemade ones are much cheaper, and can be even nicer! Just mix a cup or so of coconut oil with an equal amount of sugar and add 2 or 3 drops of essential oil such as lavender, grapefruit, lemon, or mint.
You can gently melt the coconut oil by placing the jar in warm water for a few minutes, without getting it hot enough to dissolve the sugar. That makes it easy to mix up.
Put it in a pretty jar with a ribbon on it — makes a wonderful homemade gift!
Do you use coconut oil?
If so, how, and what kind of results are you seeing?
Let me know in the comments below!
Photo credit: mealmakeovermoms via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND