12 Surprising benefits of coconut oil (plus best uses for holistic health)
09/16/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
12 Surprising benefits of coconut oil (plus best uses for holistic health)

Coconut oil used to get a bad rap because of its high amounts of saturated fat, a kind of fat thought to clog arteries. In fact, coconut oil is pure fat with around 86 percent of this being saturated fat. In contrast, butter clocks in at just 52 percent saturated fat!

But as consumer demand for plant-based foods increased, coconut oil has soared not just because of its unique coconut aroma, but also because of its reported health benefits. Even as the debate around saturated fat continues, numerous scientific studies and clinical trials find that the supposed health benefits of coconut oil are indeed all that they’re cracked up to be.

The many health benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil promises a lot of benefits that seem too good to be true at first glance, but don’t think that it’s just snake oil.

Years of scientific studies and a host of professional opinion back up this popular superfood’s long list of reputed health benefits and therapeutic effects, such as:

  1. Boosts metabolism – Several studies found that the fats in coconut oil can increase our metabolic rate. This means our bodies get to burn more calories and keep off excess fat.
  2. Kills bacteria – Lauric acid, a kind of saturated fat, has long been studied for its potent antibacterial properties. This is the main component of coconut oil responsible for treating external skin infections.
  3. Supports muscle development – Looking to put on some muscles? Start adding some coconut oil to protein shakes or homemade green smoothies! You can also take coconut oil in the form of supplements.
  4. Curbs appetite – People struggling to limit their portions during meals could benefit from taking coconut oil. Experts find that the fats in coconut oil can aid in controlling appetite and regulating hunger. No more sitting too long at the dinner table!
  5. Improves memory – In 2004, scientists demonstrated that coconut oil supplementation could improve memory problems in older adults. This brain-boosting effect could be attributed to the fats in the oil. In particular, the fats fuel brain cells to keep them in top shape.
  6. Supports heart health – The saturated fats in coconut oil aren’t as bad as critics make them out to be. This is because coconut oil’s saturated fats are unlike those found in animal products like butter and meat. In fact, studies found that saturated fats in coconut oil increase our good cholesterol. This cholesterol scours the bloodstream for bad cholesterol and eliminates it. More good cholesterol and less bad cholesterol mean better heart health.
  7. Moisturizes skin and hair – On top of reducing cholesterol, saturated fats in coconut oil also act as moisturizing agents. These fats lock in moisture to keep our hair strands from becoming brittle. Coconut oil also boosts the moisture and lipid content of the skin for a more radiant look.
  8. Enhances oral health – Coconut oil is the go-to product for oil pulling, an ancient dental technique that uses natural substances like oils to rid the mouth of acids and odor-causing bacteria. Studies found that the fats in coconut oil are great for reducing plaque that could lead to gum disease and dental caries.
  9. Balances hormones – Too much or too little of certain hormones could trigger a domino effect of health problems. In a 2012 study, scientists suggested that coconut oil is an excellent fat to consume during menopause as it helps stabilize estrogen levels.
  10. Reduces the risk of epileptic seizures – Saturated fats in coconut oil have been found to increase the number of ketone bodies in the blood. Ketone bodies are believed to have an anticonvulsant effect that can minimize the occurrence of seizures in epileptic individuals.
  11. Fights arthritic inflammation – Joint pain and inflammation due to arthritis can be debilitating in later life. But recent studies suggest that taking coconut oil can help ease arthritic inflammation thanks to its antioxidants. Chronic arthritis could sometimes occur alongside diabetes, but experts find that coconut oil supplementation also aids in the management of this chronic disease.
  12. Protects against osteoporosis – Osteoporosis, although not a direct consequence of aging, tends to affect people in later life. Recent studies suggest that coconut oil can increase the absorption of calcium, an essential mineral for bone health. Therefore, adding coconut oil to a balanced diet could help protect older adults from the threat of osteoporosis.

Best uses for coconut oil

Thinking of using coconut oil? The last thing that might come to mind is rubbing this edible plant grease over almost all surfaces, from dark underarms to the living room couch. Believe it or not, experts advise just that!

Thanks to its unique combination of natural fats, coconut oil makes for an indispensable cosmetic, cooking and household product. Take a look at some of the most common uses for coconut oil.

  1. Sunscreen – Instead of packing a bottle of chemical sunscreen for that next beach trip, grab some coconut oil instead. Studies found that coconut oil can block up to 20 percent of the sun’s harmful radiation.
  2. Cooking oil – Over high heat, some oils like corn oil create toxic compounds that could have harmful effects on our health. In contrast, saturated fats in coconut oil retain their structure even if heated to high temperatures.
  3. Skin ointment – Slathering coconut oil on inflamed and irritated skin relieves pain and itchiness. Emerging research indicates that coconut oil is more potent against skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema compared to other conventional creams, moisturizers and lotions.
  4. Mayonnaise – Processed mayonnaise often contains bad ingredients for health, such as soybean oil and added sugar. Instead of buying mayonnaise, you can use recipes like this to make a healthy coconut oil-based mayonnaise.
  5. Moisturizer – It’s time to ditch those chemical creams and moisturizers for a good old bottle of coconut oil. It’s a great natural moisturizer suited for daily use, but it also comes in handy for repairing cracked heels.
  6. Hair treatment – Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on hair care products and treatments, just slather some coconut oil onto your hair. Recent studies found that coconut oil reduces protein loss from the hair, thus keeping the strands strong and healthy.
  7. Insect repellent – Pesky mosquitoes and bugs that come out in the summer are no match for coconut oil. Just mix together coconut oil and a carrier oil and apply it onto the skin before going outdoors.
  8. Stain remover – To remove tough stains, combine one part coconut oil and one part baking soda. Mix to form a paste then slather it onto the stain. Let it sit for at least five minutes. The stain should then be easier to remove.
  9. Deodorant – Bacteria on our underarms can produce unpleasant odors. But luckily, coconut oil has natural antibacterial properties that can help stamp out these odor-causing bacteria. So instead of using those store-bought deodorant sticks and sprays, just use coconut oil daily.
  10. Cuticle conditioner – Frequent trips to the nail salon or constant exposure to the harmful chemicals in dish soap can damage the cuticles that protect both our nails and the surrounding skin from infection. To heal ragged cuticles, simply massage some coconut oil onto your fingertips, focusing on the cuticles.
  11. Furniture polish – You can also substitute coconut oil for commercial furniture polishes. These products often contain harmful chemicals that, if inhaled, could lead to health problems. Plus, coconut oil doubles as a dust repellent. Its aroma is also easier on the nose!
  12. Lip balm – Smearing some coconut oil onto chapped lips can protect them from further cracking and bleeding. Coconut oil also keeps the lips moist for hours at a time.
  13. Salad dressing – Coconut oil’s mild coconut flavor and aroma make it a delicious addition to homemade salad dressings.

Coconut oil is a staple kitchen ingredient hailed for its health benefits and therapeutic effects. To make the most of this superfood, incorporate it into foods or integrate it into a skincare regimen.







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