Formerly shunned for its high saturated fat content, people everywhere are embracing this healthy fat by both consuming it and using it topically. It’s even earned “superfood” status by nutrition experts and healthcare professionals all over the place…and for good reason! Let’s dive right in:
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of fat that are digested quickly and known for their great energy and metabolism-boosting effects. Lauric acid is the main form of MCT in coconut oil. It has been shown to be antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind!) in the body, which improves those cholesterol ratio numbers. It can promote healthy thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, and help fight off yeast, candida, and fungus.
The long story short is that coconut oil can boost your metabolism while providing you with awesome energy. And, because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, it can reduce inflammation which is always a good thing. You may even experience enhanced “brain power” after using it since MCTs can have a pretty strong positive effect on cognitive function. Triple win!
How Do You Use It?
The uses for coconut oil are endless. It’s an amazingly versatile healthy fat.
Uses in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, you can use it as an added fat, or for cooking. It can be used in place of other oils or butter at a 1:1 ratio. Do note that it’s a liquid above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and a solid below that, and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Keep a jar in the pantry, one in the bathroom, and any extras (it’s a good idea to buy in bulk) in storage, wherever that may be.
The first time you try coconut oil, you might be pleasantly surprised at how sweet and nutty it is. Consider all of the treats you could make even tastier by replacing vegetable oils in recipes with melted coconut oil. If the bitterness of kale has kept you from singing its praises, one of the first things we’d recommend trying is sautéing it in coconut oil. Unbelievable! Just chop the kale, toss it in boiling water for about 20 seconds, rinse it with cold water, then add it to a pan with a few tablespoons of heated coconut oil, tossed it around, and add some tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce). The bitterness of the kale will be gone!
Once you start, you may find yourself using coconut oil for practically all of your cooking! Because you can use it when cooking at high temperatures, try stir-frying vegetables in it, sautéing apples or pears in it for a bedtime snack, “fry” your almond crusted pork chops in it, and yes, it counts as the fat in your bedtime snack when you add a heaping tablespoon of it to your nighttime cup of tea. It keeps your blood sugar stable while you sleep, which means you wake up in the morning rested.
For folks who find it beneficial to go dairy free, it doesn’t take long for coconut oil to quickly become a good friend. You can use it for pretty much anything you’d use butter for. Try cooking your eggs in it, and melting it over veggies. You can use it in your coffee instead of cream or butter. You can melt it and add it to smoothies. And, it’s probably the only thing in the kitchen that when you’re done using it, you can rub it all over your face, hands and legs. Speaking of…
Keep a container of it in your bathroom and use as a moisturizer and makeup remover. You can also put it in your hair as a leave-in conditioner. If you’re out of shaving cream, you can use coconut oil in a pinch, or if you need after shave to keep the rash away, smooth some coconut oil on the face as well. If you’re experimental, use it as the main ingredient in both homemade toothpaste and deodorant.
Word on the street is that coconut oil is a fantastic natural remedy for diaper rash. It is also an amazing moisturizer, beneficial for your skin and hair, as well as on babies’ skin. It helps relieve eczema and psoriasis (if using it for this, don’t forget to determine the root cause which is more often than not, gluten or dairy.
You may have also heard of oil pulling, an age-old remedy used to clean teeth and gums. There are claims that coconut oil whitens your teeth if you swish it around your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Since it’s antibacterial, it’s good for keeping bad breath, gum inflammation, cavities and such away, while at the same time making your smile brighter.
There are so many other topical uses, entire books have been written about them!
Which Kind is Best?
As is the case with most things, the quality of the coconut oil makes all the difference. Make sure you’re picking up unrefined, organic, virgin or extra-virgin (either way—[unlike olive oil] extra-virgin doesn’t have any added health benefits when compared to virgin).
Rule of thumb: unrefined things are always better for you than refined things. The refined varieties may be cheaper, but are typically treated with bleaches, deodorizers and have gone through a chemical hydrogenation process that has changed the molecular structure of the oil and rendered it a trans fat. Yuck!
Also note that it doesn’t always clarify on the front of the jar so the best way to find out if it’s refined or unrefined is to flip it over and check out the ingredients list. (You’re looking for the words “unrefined”, “virgin”, or “extra virgin.”)
Also good to know: coconut oil has a shelf life of at least two years! This means you can buy it in bulk and because of its versatility, if for some odd reason you get sick of using it for one particular purpose, you can easily find a different way to use it up!
Where to Buy It
Coconut oil is everywhere these days! To save on cost, it helps buying it online in bulk.
Trader Joe’s has an excellent organic, virgin coconut oil that may be the most reasonably priced we’ve found. It’s so popular that they’re often sold out of it, but the nice thing is they sell this one online too.
Whole Foods has their 365 brand which is another decent one that, again you can get online.
Oh the versatility of coconut oil!
Hopefully we’ve convinced you in one way or another to introduce this healthy oil into your daily routine and embrace it in several areas of your life!
Do you have any favorite uses for coconut oil? Where have you found the best deals? Leave your comments below and help others get ideas!