The only beauty product you need, really, is a jar of coconut oil and a few ingredients from your kitchen. This delicious-tasting oil is great for cooking because of its high melting point, allowing it to be used in stir-frys or other foods cooked and baked at higher temperatures without oxidizing. It’s also unique in its possession of a healthy saturated fat called lauric acid and its medium chain fatty acids, known for their tendency to be used directly as fuel by the body, rather than being stored as fat. Coconut oil also boasts of antibacterial properties and has a low molecular weight, allowing it to absorb silkily into skin and hair. Here are 10 healthy uses for this oil for the inside and outside of your body.
1) Apply coconut oil to split ends. The low molecular weight of coconut oil makes it an amazing leave-in conditioner. It also smells amazing.
2) Mix with baking soda and arrowroot for a DIY edible deodorant.
3) Mix with baking soda and peppermint oil to create your own, edible, chemical-free toothpaste. Next time you travel, baking soda and coconut oil are really all you need. They double as toothpaste, deodorant, moisturiser and face scrub, even shampoo.
4) Eat 2-4 tablespoons per day to banish fungal infections. A study by the University of Iceland found that coconut oil destroyed the cell walls of pathogenic yeast, like candida, resulting in their destruction. The medium chain fatty acids present in coconut oil exhibit amazing antibacterial properties.
5) Coconut oil can help decrease your belly fat. A peer-reviewed randomized control trial from Brazil found that subjects who consumed 30 ml of coconut oil over a 12 week period lost more body fat than subjects who consumed soy bean oil.
6) Coconut oil lowers LDL (bad) and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. The same Brazilian study found that the subjects who consumed the coconut oil had higher HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) after the 12 week period.
7) Coconut oil makes an amazing moisturizer and massage oil. It’s low molecular weight and the fact that coconut oil is solid at room temperature gives it a creamy consistency, which is great for providing lasting, anti-aging moisture to dry skin. It’s antibacterial activity helps combat S. aureus infections, which makes it a great emollient for eczema sufferers who are often prone to secondary skin infections. For these reasons coconut oil is a key ingredient in a variety of homemade body care products such as this one, or this one, or even this one.
8) Coconut oil is good for acne. A study by Yang et al (2009), showed that lauric acid, a fatty acid present in coconut oil exhibited antibacterial properties against p. acnes, the microbe responsible for pesky acne. Add some matcha green tea to coconut oil to banish zits while providing healthy moisture to skin.
9) As a substitute for butter or margarine. Because of its solidity at room temperature, coconut oil is an amazing substitute for butter or margarine for healthy baking. Try recipes like this brownie recipe, these date squares, or these cookies. You can use it to “butter” your toast. I love adding coconut oil to popcorn with a little sea salt for the best darn popcorn you’ll ever taste!
10) As a coffee additive. There’s always a new health craze around the corner. This one, touted by the Paleo Diet crowd, is about adding coconut oil and grass-fed butter to high-quality coffee instead of the usual double cream, double sugar. Called Bulletproof coffee, this practice claims to help kick-start your day with superior brain and metabolism function. I’ve personally never tried it (I’m happy with my almond milk, or even coconut milk coffees, thank you very much), but people report that having coconut oil for breakfast can help decrease mid-morning cravings, increase energy and reduce the amount of food eaten later in the day, aiding in weight loss. So, kudos to those adventurous, extreme health (coco)nuts out there!
*This article is not meant to serve as medical advice. For an individualized assessment, please visit a naturopathic doctor or book an appointment at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic.
Assuncao, M., Ferreira, H., dos Santos, A., Cabral, C., Florencio, T. (2009). Effects of dietary coconut on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting with abdominal obesity. Lipids. 44(7):593-601.
Bergsson, G., Arnfinnsson, J., Steingrimsson, O., Thormar, H. (2001). In vitro killing of Candida albicans by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 45(11):3209-3212.
Yang, D., Pornpattananangkul D., Nakatsuji, T., Chan, M., Carson, D., Huang, C., Zhang, L. (2009). The antimicrobial activity of liposomal lauric acids against Proprionibacterium acnes. Biomaterials. 30(30):6035-6040.