Health fad aside, coconut oil is genuinely a multi-purpose, beneficial and healthy addition to your life; be it in cooking or as a part of your beauty regime! There is an astounding amount of evidence detailing all the amazing properties coconut oil has and I urge you to click on the links below if you’re curious.
This post is quite sciencey and I’ve done it this way to emphasize to the sceptics that all of this information about coconut oil has been obtained from clinical trials and valid medical research however if you just want to know what it’s good for, and not why, stick with it and focus on the take home message at the end of each paragraph. Most of the following info is from the second link at the bottom of this article.
It’s affordable and it works.
My first point is that it can be affordable, virgin coconut oil is slightly more expensive (and better for you) but you can also get less expensive coconut oil in certain supermarkets – just make sure it’s not hydrogenated! I usually have two big pots lying around: one in my bedroom and one in my kitchen.
One of my proudest converts to coconut oil is my mum! She loves expensive products and always keeps up with the latest anti-aging/miracle skin and hair care creams and never believed coconut oil would produce good results, but now she uses coconut oil on her hair and skin every week and swears by it!
I dyed my hair blonde earlier this year and the quality and texture is ruined; so the other day I was complaining about how straw-like it felt, and mum started lecturing ME to start using coconut oil more. I couldn’t believe it!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s solid at room temperature but the melting point is around 24 degrees Celsius so it will melt in the palm of your hand.
It doubles as a moisturiser and antiseptic cream.
The most well known use is definitely in skin care. It is an excellent moisturizer and has no adverse effects as it supports the natural chemical balance of your skin. Because it’s completely natural and soothing, it’s amazing for skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis as it can kill fungi, bacteria and viruses and provide a chemical barrier between your skin and the air, preventing dust and dirt from entering the wound. Coconut oil is also an antiseptic and has been proven to be effective with pain relief.
It heals damaged hair.
It’s great as a hair mask as well; again I only use it once or twice a week because you need a couple of hours in the morning/evening where you don’t have to see anyone and you can wash your hair afterwards, but it’s fantastic. I play waterpolo at uni and cover my hair with coconut oil before I put my swim hat on to act as an extra barrier between my hair and the chlorinated water. It leaves your hair feeling softer, nourished, thicker and shinier and is a cheap substitute for branded hair masks. I have very curly hair and have found that using a bit of coconut oil mixed with a bit of conditioner and water really helps to tame the frizz and coaxes my hair into nice ringlets, though too much coconut oil leaves it looking greasy.
I recently learnt that it provides essential proteins that heal damaged hair, promotes hair growth by limiting protein loss and protects against dandruff, 3 more reasons to start using it!
Coconut Oil in food and cooking.
In terms of eating coconut oil, I use it to fry and bake as it’s one of the only oils that maintain its beneficial properties at high temperatures (due to its short and medium chain fatty acids, it can’t be oxidised and doesn’t go rancid therefore it’s great for preservation as well, it’s smoking point is around 182 degree Celsius) and it doesn’t have a strong flavour. It’s a great addition to homemade desserts or a frothy coffee as it has a thick, silky texture and hardens up when cold.
It’s a quick release energy which provides you with a healthy, sustainable boost so good to eat before exercising or mental challenges. Coconut oil has been proven to be a better source of energy than glucose: the small fats travel straight to the liver from the digestive system and so are much less likely to be broken down into lipoproteins and deposited into fat cells. The fats in coconut oil are converted straight into ketones which are an alternative source of energy.
Even though it’s an oil, it’ll balance your cholesterol and decrease your chances of getting Heart disease.
This is where it gets slightly more sciencey but please give it a read as I’ve tried to explain things simply. The fats in coconut oil are mostly saturated and monounsaturated medium chain triglycerides (MCTG), to put that simply, they are small, unreactive fats. Long chain triglycerides (LCTG) are what you normally find in animal and dairy fat, and saturated versions of these can increase bad cholesterol, however with MCTG, the saturated fat content within coconut oil is actually very beneficial as your body metabolises it differently.
It definitely doesn’t contribute towards heart disease and may even protect against it by increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL’s) and increasing the ratio of good to bad cholestorol thus decreasing risk of atherosclerosis (blood clotting). Coconut oil can aid in weight loss by speeding up your metabolism, help diabetes sufferers by maintaining insulin levels, improve thyroid function as the fats can be easily converted to hormones, improve the function of the liver, heart, pancreas and many more organs by improving the absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream, protects the body from cancer-causing, aging free-radicals and has anti-inflammatory properties.
It’ll help you loose weight.
For those of you interested in its weight loss properties, coconut oil stimulates the metabolism due its quick release of energy and increases thermogenesis (when your body burns calories by producing heat), leading to more calories being burned. Win, win!
It can be used to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s.
IMPORTANT: if you know anyone with Alzheimer’s, please feed them coconut oil! One of the consequences of Alzheimer’s is chronic inflammation (swelling) of the brain which interferes with glucose metabolism (breaking down sugars for energy) therefore starving brain cells causing them to degenerate and die. Ketones (which are the products of coconut oil metabolism in the liver) are an alternative energy source and are able to feed the brain regardless of this defect and therefore keep brain cells alive. Clinical studies have shown significant cognitive improvement 90 minutes after eating coconut oil compared to other oils in Alzheimer’s patients. It’s also been proven that the positive effects of eating coconut oil last a lot longer than any other treatments and it can be used as a preventative measure.
And if you weren’t persuaded already…
Some of the lipids in coconut oil have been proven to kill some gram-positive bacteria and it has been proven really effective against candida as well (bacterial and yeast infections). If you haven’t figured out already that it is well worth making coconut oil a part of your diet, please please please check out the links below, the first is slightly more general and easy to read, however the second is an A-Z of all the medical research that’s been done and will blow your mind with the long list of health benefits it has.
Sorry if I’ve sounded like a preacher in this article, but I’m so passionate about preventing illness (as well as curing it) and strongly believe that if everyone made a few little changes in their lives, as a race we would be healthier, happier and have longer, more fulfilling lives.