Benefits of Coconut Oil

Last fall I started a new love affair.

With coconut oil.

Unfortunately, throughout the years it’s received a bad rap due to it’s high saturated fat content and has been labeled “unhealthy”.

But is it unhealthy?

Let me just say – heaven’s no! While it may be full of saturated fat, coconut oil is fantastic and has so many great uses. And while I am not making any health claims about it I do want to to tell you some of the benefits of using coconut oil.

First off – The Fat

Yes, coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat. But about 2/3 of them are Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well into the body. These “medium” sized fats are important because our bodies actually metabolize fatty acids depending on their size. Medium chain fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and can actually help protect against heart disease. This medium chain triglyceride, or lauric acid, is also used in the body to produce something called monolaurin which is an antiviral and antibacterial monoglyceride that helps protect us from things like colds and flu virus’s.

I also found an interesting quote from a Dr. Ray Peat Ph.D., (physiologist who has worked with progesterone and related hormones issues for over 30 some years) And while this quote doesn’t quite boast the benefits of coconut oil, it’s being said that changes have been made in our hormones due to the increase of polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, canola oil, soy and flax oil) we now consume.

Their [polyunsaturated oils] best understood effect is their interference with the function of the thyroid gland. Polyunsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body is generally exposed to increased levels of oestrogen. The thyroid hormone is essential for making the ‘protective hormones’ progesterone and pregnenolone, so these hormones are lowered when anything interferes with the function of the thyroid. The thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol, so cholesterol is likely to be raised by anything that blocks the thyroid function (http://www.efn.org/~raypeat/efatox.rtf)

A Quick Side Note on Why We Need Saturated Fat in Our Diet

For many reasons actually.

First off, saturated fat constitutes about 50% of our cells. It helps to maintain good cellular structure by making sure the walls of our cells are not to thin.

It also helps our bodies absorb calcium which can play a vital role in the health and strength of our bones.

And “Saturated fatty acids are needed for the proper utilization of omega-3 essential fatty acids because omega-3’s are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats (particularly organic virgin coconut oil)” (source)

Secondly – Some Benefits

While I make no claims myself, here are a few ways coconut oil can be used as modern medicine via The Coconut Research Center

  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause different things like candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Provides quick energy.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. (important when trying to balance insulin levels and hormones!)
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Contains important nutrients our bodies need

Thirdly – It Rocks

Above all else I have found coconut oil to be extremely tasty (depending on the brand some are more flavorful than others) and versatile. I use coconut oil in so many different ways; everything from baking to frying to face lotion.

It has a melting point of 76 degrees which means when it’s warm out, it’s a liquid. Here in chilly Michigan winter, it’s definitely solid! So to use for baking you may substitute both oils and butter/shortening with it! I also have found that because it is slightly sweet and has a great flavor, I can usually reduce the amount of sugar I add to anything I bake.

How I’ve used coconut oil

While this oil has so many more uses, here’s what we use it for:

  • Chapstick – great for dry and chapped lips
  • Face lotion – I always put on a light layer after showering
  • On eczema – because of it’s anti-fungal properties
  • On my pregnant belly – seemed to help the itching!
  • As a diaper rash ointment – works better than anything I’ve tried
  • Hair gel/conditioner – while not perfect for me, it’s worked wonderfully in a pinch
  • I use it when making nourishing fudge and most of my baked goods
  • I also put a tablespoon or two into smoothies
  • I also make a great cold/flu fighting garlic herb butter with it

I would be very lost without this oil in my house now. It’s one of my most favorite things in my pantry!!

So do you use coconut oil? What’s your favorite use?

Other sources of information

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.

Comments

  1. Thanks for all these awesome, informative posts! I’m fairly new to your site (I emailed you recently) but I’m just loving it.

    I just recently bought some coconut oil, so I’m glad you’ve made some more suggestions here on how to use it. I didn’t know I could use it as a face lotion. Sweet!

    Too bad it’s so darn expensive, though. Yeesh!

  2. Question: I just checked, and my coconut oil isn’t virgin. Is it still good? (I’m clearly new around here)

  3. I love coconut oil, especially for baking. I don’t really like the flavor of coconut so it took a while for me to get used to the slight flavor of the virgin kind but I stuck with it and but now I hardly notice.

    I had been buying small containers but they can be pricey so just today I went a bought a big gallon from Mountain Rose Herbs, they have one of the best prices I have found. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

  4. We love coconut oil. I have been using it for most of my baking for the past couple months. I got a really good deal on some, so it was less expensive for me than organic butter, and I love all the wonderful health benefits! :)

  5. Just printed this to take to my OB/GYN on Monday. I’ve been talking to him about WAPF, and he even bought a copy of Eat Fat Loose Fat.

    My favorite brand of coconut oil – for the taste- is from Mountain Rose Herbs. There IS a taste difference.

  6. I adopted my son, and so I was not able to breastfeed. However, I raised him on the goat’s milk version of the baby formula in the back of Nourishing Traditions, which includes the coconut oil. When he grew out of the formula, I translated the nutrients to regular smoothies with berries and yogurt. I scramble his eggs in coconut oil, and he is now 3 1/2 years old. He has NEVER been sick a day in his life, he’s about the size of an average 5 year old, wears a size 13 shoe, and has never had a growing pain EVER. I really love the coconut oil…I believe it has contributed greatly to his outstanding health. My friend also makes an AWESOME raw fudge with it. I love it!!!!

  7. I looooooooooooove coconut oil! And coconut anything. Being grain-free (and nut-free and legume-free), coconut is my go-to sub all the time.

    Go to http://www.amazon.com and look for Nutiva coconut oil. A big (54 oz.) jar is only about $20. Totally affordable! And that’s my favorite.

    I’m doing a post on fats on Feb. 15 when I launch my “30 Day Eat More Fat Challenge” and I will link back to this post! :)

  8. Oh my. I did NOT know that about vegetable oils, cholesterol, and thyroid function. My infertility knowledge started when I was told my thyroid was busted. Looking back at my family history, how we ate growing up (not terrible, but lots of things out of boxes and cans), the connection with oils makes a LOT of sense.

    I’ve been using coconut oil for a while now. I use it for my skin, especially in the winter. It’s the only kind of ‘lotion’ that actually releives the dry cracking. I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast too and it didn’t occur to me to put some coconut oil in there, that’ll be perfect to increase fat content! I already put in 4 eggs in the carafe for my husband and I to share.

    Thanks so much!

  9. I started using coconut oil a while back and love it as well. I’m slowly starting to use it more and more in my cooking… it’s just so expensive on my budget…even in bulk. I am very overweight, have been since I was about 6, and ever since I was that age I remember all the craze being low fat and fat free (in high school it was all about carbs). My parents, trying to help us, had us on the diet the doctor recommended which was pretty low in fat and it never worked.
    Even as an adult I followed that pattern, never losing the weight, dealing with pcos and never feeling my hunger truly satisfied. Now that I stopped obsessing about fat and concentrate on good carbs my health is so much better. I have lost about 16 pounds without real dieting (only a drop in the bucket, but getting there) and I have to attribute it to eating real fats. Obviously everything should be done in moderation, but if we Americans just stopped obsessing about our food making us fat and started enjoying real food as fuel, we would be a much thinner, healthier nation (in my humble opinion… I’ll get off the soap box now… sorry :-) )

  10. what a fabulous love affair to have!
    I try to get as much as I can of this good stuff into us. love it!
    great blog – I’ll be back!
    xx

  11. I have been adding coconut oil to my families diet lately. I had my jar sitting on the counter the other night when I accidently poured boiling water on my hand. I immediately put in under cold water and my husband sprayed it with a burn spray. Then I remembered that I had read somewhere that coconut oil was good for sunburns. So we washed the burn spray off and put the coconut oil on it and it took the sting out and my hand never blistered.

  12. Yes, I LOVE IT! i use it in many of the ways that you do. my 9 yr old daughter has really bad ezcema so it became her primary moisturizer last year (we’ve since added a new “concoction” that i make w/beeswax, jojoba oil and olive oil). but i use coconut oil in place of all butter/oils in baking, for sauteing, melted in smoothies, and it is great the cook popcorn in! yum!
    thank you for this great post w/more info about the benefits … =)
    emily

  13. Stephanie T. says:

    I too, LOVE coconut oil. We were introduced to it almost 3 years ago, but I didn’t start really using it in just about everything for about a year. Now I can’t get enough of it! I bake with it just about exclusively. We top veggies in that AND my homemade butter. I scramble our eggs in coconut oil. I make my own “Mary’s Oil Blend” from Eat Fat Lose Fat and drizzle that in with my meats and other things that just need a bit of fat in the pan. I add it to smoothies. I top our warm, soaked cereal with it in the mornings. Use it for making popcorn, kettle corn, caramel corn. It makes the most WONDERFUL cookies and brownies.I could go on and on…

    And I have to ditto what Julie said above -“There IS a taste difference.” I have only ever used EVCO so I really don’t know what “expeller pressed” EVCO tastes like (supposedly less of the coconutty flavor). I have tasted CO from several sources and found my favorite and what I deemed to be the freshest was from Wilderness Family Naturals. It is a bit pricey for a gallon (which is the only way to buy it at our house since we use it in everything), but the flavor was by far the best that I have ever tasted.They had a booth at the Wise Traditions Conference 2009 and were letting people “sample” their coconut oil before they bought. It was amazing. Check out their selections of coconut oil here: http://www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com/category/coconut-products-coconut-oil.php

  14. I love coconut oil! I make my own deodorant with coconut oil, corn starch and baking soda, and essential oil (usually lavender or tea tree). It only takes a little bit of deodorant and the coconut oil makes it melt onto my skin for easy application.

  15. chukwu hilda says:

    pls i like to eat coconut seed itself but i cant now becos am on drugs and i heard it inhibits the action of the drug.pls help am confused

    donielle Reply:

    @chukwu hilda, I’m sorry but I don’t have much advice for you. You’ll have to check with your doctor.

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