Coconut oil has become a popular product for better health, weight loss, and beauty for good reason.
Studies have proven that coconut oil offers a host of health benefits that range from improving people’s skin to enhancing the fullness of their hair, even weight loss!
If you’ve never used coconut oil before, you may have questions like: What are the benefits of coconut oil? How safe is coconut oil for skin? Can I use it on my hair? Can I use coconut oil for weight loss? What other coconut oil uses are there?
Keep reading to discover the many health benefits and uses of coconut oil.
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts.
Because it contains very high levels of healthy saturated fat, about 90%, it has been the subject of several public health advisories against eating it regularly in the past. However, new research has shown no link between saturated fats and heart disease. (1, 2)
The saturated fats in coconut oil go by the official term “medium chain triglycerides” (or MCTs). Science confirms that diet-based fatty acids, such as the ones in steak or cheese, are of the long chain variety.
Basically, your body metabolizes the medium chain type differently than it does the long chain kind. (3)
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains:
- 120 calories
- 14 grams of fat
- 12.5 grams of saturated fat
- 0.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 0.8 grams of monounsaturated fat
Coconut oil does not contain sodium, cholesterol or carbohydrates.
By adding coconut oil to your diet, you will increase the amount of healthy fats that you are giving your body. Coconut oil also helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
If you don’t like the smell of coconut, then you may struggle to use it. Coconut oil supplements are available if you can’t handle ingesting the oil. By taking the supplements, you’ll still enjoy the coconut oil health benefits.
Here are the Top 5 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil:
#1 – Coconut Oil Helps Weight Loss
When it comes to coconut oil and weight loss, studies show that the substance is pretty effective. In particular, it can decrease abdominal obesity in women. It also aids your body’s metabolic rate. (4)
Research proves that different foods affect the body differently. At a more basic level, coconut oil helps you lose weight by:
- Increasing your energy levels
- Decreasing the feelings of hunger
- Enhancing your body’s ability to burn fat
- Balancing your hormones
To achieve raising your metabolic rate, coconut oil eases stress on the pancreas, which helps you burn more energy. One study determined that those who took 15 to 30 grams of MCTs each day saw a 5 percent increase in their energy, and this allowed them to burn about 120 more calories. (5)
#2 – Coconut Oil Helps Reduce Belly Fat
Several studies have shown that people who take coconut oil along with proper diet and nutrition lose more belly fat than those that use other kind of fats, like soybean oil. (6)
In one study with overweight men, 30 grams of coconut oil for 4 weeks reduced waist circumference by about 1.1 inches! (7)
Even though study participants didn’t lose weight much weight overall, the circumference of their bellies did shrink when taking coconut oil for weight loss.
#3 – Coconut Oil Reduces Hunger Cravings
There have been many studies involving medium chain fatty acids that show that they increase the feeling of fullness and help you eat less, compared to other fats. (8)
It’s not totally clear why this phenomenon happens, but it possibly has something to do with the way coconut oil fats are metabolized. (9)
What is clear is in study after study, people who ate a higher amount of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) ate over 200 fewer calories on average. (10)
#4 – Coconut Oil Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol
Because coconut oil is high in natural saturated fat, it assists your body in its efforts to convert the LDL, or bad, cholesterol into the good kind. (11)
Good cholesterol supports a healthy heart, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
Studies show that coconut oil may reduce inflammation and arthritis flare-ups. Coconut oil’s high antioxidant levels give your body relief from these ailments. (12)
#5 – Coconut Oil May Help Fight Cancer
According to some experts, coconut oil can even help your body fight cancer. Two elements in coconut oil support this claim. (13)
One cancer-fighting element is the presence of ketones in the oil. Researchers have discovered that tumor cells are unable to use the energy in ketones.
Instead, they gain their energy through glucose. Because of this, it is thought that a ketogenic-based diet could help cancer patients overcome the disease.
The second cancer-fighting element goes back to medium chain fatty acids, which kill certain kinds of bacteria. When these types of bacteria are present, the risk of developing stomach cancer increases. In research studies that involved the chemical induction of cancer, coconut oil was able to stop the disease from forming.
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Take A Day?
If you’re just starting out using coconut oil as a supplement, begin slowly to give your body time to adjust.
Start with about 1 tablespoon a day. If you take more than that, you may experience stomach problems.
To gain the most health benefits from coconut oil, take about 10 grams of it a day. (There are 15 grams in a tablespoon of coconut oil).
Be sure to purchase the extra virgin variety of coconut oil. Some producers refine or process the product to increase its shelf life. They do this by bleaching, chemically processing or overheating it.
When coconut oil is tampered with for longevity, its natural makeup changes. This could make the fats in the product less beneficial.
Uses for Coconut Oil
One of the easiest ways to use coconut oil is to cook and bake with it. Use it for salads, frying, baking, basically anywhere butter or oil is called for.
It offers the same cooking and baking properties as vegetable or canola oil, and remains more stable at high temperatures than other oils do. (14)
Here are some more popular ways to use coconut oil:
Coconut Oil for Skin
Did you know, you can replace your regular face cleanser with coconut oil? It’s an effective replacement because it naturally contains anti-fungal, antibacterial and moisturizing agents. (15)
Using coconut oil on your skin is also known to:
- Safely moisturize the skin
- Delay the onset of wrinkles and sagging skin
- Effectively treat psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis
Coconut oil is also a good body scrub and a nice alternative to hand cream.
Additional coconut oil benefits for skin include the product’s ability to work like a natural highlighter.
After applying your makeup, add a small amount of coconut oil over it. This will make your skin glow. At the end of the night, use the product to remove your makeup. It will even take off your waterproof mascara!
You can also use the substance to shave your legs. Because coconut oil features skin-soothing properties, it hydrates your legs and leaves them looking lovely and moisturized.
And if you’re shaving those legs in the shower, you might as well slather your body with a little coconut oil and skip the lotion later, saves you time and money. Just use a little though, or you’ll be slipping and sliding in the shower.
If you want a great Coconut Oil based handmade soap, here is one of my favorites: FelaShop Coconut Clay Soap.
Full disclosure, it’s my sister-in-law’s Etsy store. She makes all her soaps by hand and they’re the BEST!!
Coconut Oil Face Mask
To make your own coconut oil face mask, combine 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with 2 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice until the mixture is well blended.
Apply the mask to your face, and allow it to condition your skin for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep a towel handy to mop up the drips because it will soften and loosen up as it sits on your face.
To remove the mask, rinse with warm water.
Coconut Oil Hair Treatment
Try using coconut oil to condition your hair.
First, use a gentle shampoo to clean your hair. Then, depending on the length of your hair, warm 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in the palms of your hands. Apply the product to your hair shafts, and rub it into your scalp.
Place a shower cap over your head, and allow the coconut oil to nourish your hair for one to two hours. If your head or hair is especially dry, keep the cap on overnight. Once you’ve completed the treatment, wash your hair with your regular shampoo. Then, style it as you normally would.
A coconut oil hair treatment regime can keep dandruff from developing. It can also treat lice and prevent the little buggers from taking up residence on your scalp. And yes, it’s safe to use on your kiddos too, something to keep in mind during the school year!
Cooking with Coconut Oil
There are many different fats you can use in your daily cooking, and most of them have about the same calorie count, so why not swap out that butter or vegetable oil for a fat that will actually aid in your weight loss or weight management goals?!
Use it to cook:
- Vegetable-based dishes
- Baked goods
Also, try mixing it with yogurt or oatmeal.
When you’re cooking with coconut oil, keep in mind that it remains solid at room temperature, so if it’s cool during the winter where you live, then your coconut oil could become too hard to use. Organic coconut oil starts to liquefy when it reaches 76° Fahrenheit.
For convenience, consider heating the oil and pouring it into ice cube trays. Once it solidifies, the cube size is ideal for most recipes. An average coconut oil ice cube is 2 tablespoons, if you only need 1 tablespoon run hot water over a sharp knife then cut each cube in half.
Coconut Oil Smoothie
Try coconut oil in smoothies. It gives them a nutty taste as well as a creamy texture. Coconut oil in smoothies makes them rich and especially smooth.
Here is a video on how to add coconut oil to smoothies:
Other uses of coconut oil include taking advantage of its moisturizing elements by using it as a massage oil. Not only will the substance nourish the skin, but it also gives the massage an aromatherapy element due to its tropical smell.
From healthier skin and hair, to weight loss and better nutrition, coconut oil truly can be considered a “super food”.
Work it into your daily diet and beauty routine and reap the benefits of this amazing ingredient. Comment below with your favorite uses for this inexpensive ingredient.