For decades, The American Heart Association stated that coconut oil was high in saturated fat and raised “bad” cholesterol levels. Despite these claims, coconut oil is making a comeback bigger than Betty White did in 2010.
Coconut is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood” thanks to its unique combination of fatty acids that are truly beneficial to your health. While most people assume that oils are best for consumption, they can actually have a myriad of other uses that go beyond the kitchen.
Aside from making my popcorn with coconut oil, I love using coconut oil for my hair, face and also for oil pulling.
Oil pulling? “What’s that?”, you may ask. Well, stay tuned because we got a list of things that can make you go nuts for coconuts.
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What Makes Coconut So Special?
Before we go into the many uses of coconut oil, it is important to understand the science behind this unique botanical nut.
According to WebMD, coconut oil is made when the white “meat” inside the nut is pressed and 84% of its calories come from saturated fat. The American Heart Association states that eating foods high in saturated fats raises the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn puts an individual more at risk for heart disease and stroke.
While the AHA is not wrong in making these statements, it is important to analyze the saturated fats in question along with other factors that contribute to the overall health of an individual.
When looking at saturated fats, which are fats that are solid at room temperature due to their chemical build, it is important to understand the different kinds that exist. Like fatty meats and butter, coconut oil contains saturated fats. Despite this, coconut oil has a high content (just about 40%) of a specific medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) called lauric acid.
When comparing and contrasting these fatty acids, it rings true that not all fatty acids are created equal when looking at their properties and effects. Unlike other fatty acids, or saturated fats, lauric acid increases the blood levels of cholesterol bound to high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and an increase in HDL cholesterol has been linked to a reduced risk in heart disease.
If you are interested in reading more about the science behind coconut oil, check out our article on coconut oil to get a more in-depth guide to understanding it.
So, What Can I Do with Coconut Oil?
When analyzing coconut oil and its unique set of properties, there is no denying that this is a remarkable organic product. While many of us in the western world don’t see coconut oil as a typical everyday product, it is a completely different story when you are in a tropical climate.
When I was living in Bali, Indonesia in the winter of 2019, not only was I astonished with how people opened up a coconut with a machete, but I was also amazed by how many uses people got out of this drupe.
Coco-hair, Don’t Care
Firstly, coconut oil is great for moisturizing your hair and in turn preventing dandruff and split ends. Anyone who has been on a beach for an extended period of time can attest to the fact that salt water and sunlight can truly take a toll on your hair.
Instead of purchasing multiple deep-conditioning treatments at a salon, coconut oil can be used as a substitute thanks to its high content of Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble nutrient that has natural antioxidant effects that have been linked to stimulating hair health and growth.
Although more research is needed, many claim that Vitamin E can be used to keep a scalp moisturized and prevent hair follicle cells from breaking down and dandruff from occurring.
Additionally, studies have examined a correlation between Vitamin E intake and reduced hair loss. Despite needing more backing, this is a claim any of us can get behind.
Finally, Vitamin E has been shown to help with restoring shine oils in hair that are lost as a result of damage caused by chemicals, heat or other styling products.
Thanks to the high content of Vitamin E in coconut oil, it can be used to moisturize, repair and revamp your look simply through daily application.
Your New Favorite Moisturizer/Acne Treatment
One word that many see when reading about the benefits of coconut oil, is the fact that it has “anti-inflammatory” properties. Why should we care?
Well, many different kinds of skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis are characterized or caused by chronic inflammation. In order to prevent or treat these problems, antioxidants are needed since they stabilize free radicals in the body and neutralize atoms that play a part in inflammation.
Coconut oil not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but it also eases inflammation along with improving the status of antioxidants.
Furthermore, animal studies have explored this notion and found that virgin coconut oil improved the antioxidant status and prevented oxidative stress.
Moreover, coconut oil’s ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and high content of lauric acid have lead to it being used to treat acne. Not only has coconut oil showed us that it can help with reducing inflammation, but it also has antimicrobial properties that effectively kill bacteria and fungi.
Overall, coconut oil can be used to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, which is a sure way to keep your skin looking healthy and refreshed.
Move Over Mouthwash, Here Comes Coconut Oil
In order to keep skin healthy, it is important to reduce the presence of “bad” bacteria, which can be achieved by simply applying coconut oil. The same goes for keeping your gums and teeth healthy, which can have over 350 kinds of bacteria present at any given time.
Utilizing coconut oil in your dental care routine is called oil pulling and it has been shown to reduce the amount of “bad” oral bacteria, which contribute to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
Oil pulling is performed through the same method utilized with mouthwash and most people swish the oil around in their mouths for 15-20 minutes. Incorporating coconut pulling into your daily regimen is easy and economical.
Coconut oil is a product that can be used in the kitchen and the bathroom, which is efficient when considering the overall consumption of goods by an individual.
The Bottom Line
Coconut oil has a distinct set of chemical properties, which allow it to have benefits on heart, hair, skin and dental health. Through its ease of use, coconut oil can be used by individuals of any age in any part of the world, thus making it an eco-friendly choice for many. Truly, this is a nut that is all it’s cracked up to be.
Our Favorite Coconut Recipes
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