I’ve said before that I am with coconut oil like the dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is with windex:
I use it for everything because it is one of the most versatile and healthiest substances on the planet!
In fact, it has a wide array of health benefits, hair and skin uses, and uses around the home. I was using it a decade ago before it became popular and widely available in grocery stores. If you want to try it, grab a free jar of fair-trade organic coconut oil from Thrive here.
Here’s why I love it:
Coconut Oil Benefits
This tropical oil is rich in beneficial fats like lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides that benefit the body.
Here are some of the many benefits of coconut oil:
- Coconut Oil for Hair– This nourishing oil has been used for centuries in hair and its unique fat composition makes it especially beneficial for certain hair types. It can be used as a hair mask, oil treatment, or in homemade hair products.
- To Moisturize and Nourish Skin– The same properties make coconut oil great for skin as well. Many people find that it is an effective natural moisturizer. Its natural antioxidant properties make it great for stopping wrinkles and skin irritation.
- Digestive Help– The high concentration of beneficial fats in coconut oil make it helpful for digestion. Its antimicrobial properties can help fight irritation and infection in the gut from Candida.
- Great Source of Healthy Fats– Over 50% of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid- the same substance present in breast milk. In fact, coconut oil is the richest source of lauric acid after breastmilk.
- Metal Boost– MCTs are also well known for their ability to contribute to focus and mental performance. Adding coconut oil to a drink in the morning can help improve mental performance all day.
- Hormone Support– Getting the wrong kinds of fats can create havoc on hormones. Coconut oil contains specific fats that support the body’s natural hormone production.
- Immune Support– The MCTs (including lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid) have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it beneficial for immune support.
These beneficial properties of coconut oil make it a superfood and a powerhouse of uses in cooking, beauty recipes, natural remedies and around the home.
Coconut Oil Uses
There are really endless ways to use coconut oil in your cooking, your home and on your body, but these are some of the many ways we use it:
Uses for Coconut Oil in Cooking and Recipes
- A great cooking oil with a high smoke point. Great for baking, stir-frys or as a dairy free replacement to butter.
- Added to foods or smoothies daily for energy
- As a coffee creamer when emulsified into coffee (The only way I’ll drink coffee)
- In homemade Mayo without the high PUFA vegetable oils
- To season cast iron skillets
- It’s high Lauric acid and MCFA content helps boost metabolism when used in foods
- In healthy brain boosting snack for kids like Coconut Clusters
- In a filling and energy boosting Brain Power Smoothie
- Mix a tablespoon with a tablespoon of chia seeds for an all-day energy boost (do NOT take this at night!)
- As a replacement for vegetable oils in any recipe or in cooking
- In coconut based grain free granola recipes
- In homemade meltaways (like candy)
- Many use it as an anti-aging facial moisturizer
- Use to make coconut cream concentrate for a brain boosting snack
Coconut Oil Health Benefits and Uses
- It has been shown to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium
- Internally as part of the protocol to help remineralize teeth
- Is an immediate source of energy when eaten that isn’t stored as fat
- Can help speed weight loss when consumed daily
- Can help improve sleep when taken daily
- When used in food, it may support healthy thyroid function
- Some studies show that it can help improve insulin levels when consumed regularly
- Topically, it help skin heal faster after injury or infection because of its beneficial fats
- When used consistently on skin it can help get rid of cellulite
- Some evidence shows that the beneficial fats in coconut oil can help with depression and anxiety
- When taken regularly, it can boost hormone production
- Can relieve the pain of hemorrhoids when used topically
- Can boost circulation and help those who often feel cold
- Internally during pregnancy to help provide baby necessary fats for development (especially when taken with Fermented Cod Liver Oil)
- There are entire books dedicated to the potential of saturated fats like coconut oil to help avoid Alzheimer’s
Coconut Oil Beauty Uses
The same properties that make it beneficial in cooking and recipes make coconut oil beneficial for hair and skin:
- On the skin as a basic lotion
- With other oils as part of an oil cleansing regimen for beautiful skin
- Whipped with shea butter for a soothing body balm
- In homemade lotion bars with other beneficial ingredients like shea butter
- In homemade deodorant– its natural antibacterial properties make it helpful in fighting odor.
- Coconut oil makes an excellent eye-makeup remover on its own
- It may help lighten age spots when rubbed directly on the skin
- To help increase sun tolerance and avoid burning when used internally
- As a naturally low SPF sunscreen on its own when used topically
- In basic homemade lotion recipes
- Add a couple drops of a favorite essential oil to make a delicious massage oil
- Mixed with equal parts sugar for a smoothing body scrub (use in the shower)
- Rubbed on lips as a natural lip balm or used in lip balm recipes
- In homemade slow cooker soap
- In natural Homemade Sunscreen recipes with other protective ingredients
- As a natural personal lubricant that won’t disturb vaginal flora
- As a natural shave cream and after shave lotion
- By itself as a great tanning oil
- Mixed with salt to remove dry skin on feet
- In natural homemade diaper cream
- By itself as a natural deodorant
- By itself or with baking soda as a naturally whitening toothpaste
- In homemade peppermint lip balm
- In magnesium body butter
- On cuticles to help nails grow
- Rub into elbows daily to help alleviate dry, flaky elbows
- To help avoid chlorine exposure when swimming
- As a completely natural baby lotion
Coconut Oil For Hair
- Can be rubbed into scalp daily to stimulate hair growth
- In homemade shampoo bars
- A tiny dab rubbed on your hands and then through hair makes a great anti-frizz treatment
- As an incredibly intensive natural conditioner- Rub into dry hair, put a shower cap on and leave for several hours before washing out with several rounds of shampoo
Coconut Oil Uses Around the Home
- In homemade soap for laundry
- In Homemade Natural Bug-Off Lotion Bars
- To make a simple homemade soap
- In clay and charcoal soothing soap
- A small amount can be rubbed into real leather to soften and condition (shiny leather only… test a small area first)
- To dilute essential oils for use on skin
- For pets struggling with skin issues when used externally
- In coconut oil dog treats
- On hands after doing dishes to avoid dry skin
- Mixed with catnip, rosemary, or mint essential oils as a natural bug repellent
Coconut Oil Natural Remedies
- In coconut oil pulling chews and oil pulling for oral health
- Rubbed on the inside of your nose it may help alleviate allergy symptoms
- The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties make it helpful topically to kill yeast or yeast infections
- The antimicrobial properties and beneficial fats make coconut oil a powerhouse in Remineralizing Toothpaste
- Can help sooth psoriasis or eczema
- Oil pulling with coconut oil and a drop of oregano oil helps improve gum health
- Can help improve cholesterol ratios
- Can help reduce appearance of varicose veins when used topically
- After initial heat is gone, can help speed healing of sunburn
- Blend a tablespoon into hot tea to help speed recovery from cold or flu
- It’s anti-inflammatory properties can help lessen arthritis
- Can reduce the itch of mosquito bites
- Can help resolve acne when used regularly
- A tablespoon melted into a cup of warm tea can help sooth a sore throat
- In homemade vapor rub
- Can be used internally and externally to speed recovery from UTIs
- In a salve for cracked heels
- One reader swears by using coconut oil to treat yeast infection. She suggests soaking a tampon in it and inserting the tampon for a few hours.
- Naturally clears up cold sores
- Ingesting coconut oil daily can help with allergy symptoms
- Ingesting coconut oil daily can increase mental alertness
Coconut Oil for Pregnancies, Babies and Children
- As a cloth diaper safe diaper cream (just rub on baby’s bottom)
- I’ve used in kids ears to help speed ear infection healing
- In place of Lanolin cream on nursing nipples to sooth irritation (also great for baby!)
- Nursing moms often take 3-4 tablespoons a day (and Vitamin D) to increase milk supply and nutrients
- To help sooth the itch of chicken pox or poison ivy
- To help avoid stretch marks during pregnancy
- Used directly on the perineum to help heal after birth
- To get rid of cradle cap on baby- just massage in to head, leave on for a few minutes and gently rinse with a warm wash cloth
- With apple cider vinegar as a natural treatment for lice that actually works
You can also check out my recipe list for many more recipes that use coconut oil!
Types of Coconut Oil
There are several choices when it comes to using this healthful fat.
Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil
Considered the gold standard. This type of oil offers the most of the benefits listed above. It is extracted from fresh coconut using a wet-milled fermentation process that protects the beneficial properties of the coconut. This type of coconut oil has been found to have the highest antioxidant levels. This process does use heat but studies show that it does not harm the oil or reduce nutrient levels. In fact, the heat may be beneficial and create a higher quality oil.
“Extra Virgin” Oil
The gold standard for olive oil but not coconut oil. This is produced by cold-pressing the oil and does not preserve the antioxidants as well:
In 2013, a study that compared “cold extracted virgin coconut oil” (CEVCO) with “hot extracted virgin coconut oil” (HEVCO) and standard refined coconut oil (CCO) was conducted in India, and published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology. This study, like many others, showed that virgin coconut oils actually lower LDL cholesterol, while raising the “good” HDL cholesterol.
This study also confirmed that virgin coconut oil produced with heat produced the highest amounts of antioxidants: “The antioxidant activity in the HEVCO group was 80-87%, 65-70% in CEVCO, and 35-45% in CCO.” The researchers went on to comment why heat is necessary to produce the highest amounts of antioxidants in virgin coconut oil. (source)
Refined Coconut Oils
Refined coconut oil is often tasteless and has no coconut smell. It is usually heated, bleached and deodorized. Healthy options are available but many refined coconut oils do not have the benefits of unrefined.
Fractionated Oil or MCT Oil
Fractionated oil or MCT oil is a liquid oil that does not get solid below 76 degrees like unrefined oil does. It doesn’t contain all of the beneficial properties of unrefined coconut oil but is higher in brain-boosting fats.
What Type to Use?
For external uses, expeller pressed, fractionated or other types of refined coconut oil will work, but for internal use, an unrefined organic oil is best.
Want to try it out? I love this organic virgin and fair-trade coconut oil from Thrive Market (which is like Costco online but for healthy products). Their coconut oil is 40% off retail. (And Thrive sells many other of my favorite healthy products at 30-50% off normal prices!)
A Great Coconut Oil Resource
Nutritional Profile of Coconut Oil
Part of the reason coconut oil is such a powerhouse superfood is its unique nutritional profile. It was avoided and shunned for years because of its 92% saturated fat content but recent research is showing this stigma was unwarranted.
Most of the fats in coconut oil are saturated but they are in the form of MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides, also called MCFAs), which affect the body differently than short and long chain fats. The MCTs are composed of:
- Lauric Acid– This beneficial fat makes up 40% of the total fat composition, making it one of nature’s highest natural sources. The body converts lauric acid to monolaurin, which is beneficial for immune function.
- Caprylic Acid– Another healthy fat with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
- Capric Acid– This converts to monocaprin in the body and has immune boosting and antimicrobial properties.
Benefits of MCTs
All of these MCTs are beneficial to the body. They are metabolized differently than longer chain fats, going straight from the digestive system to the liver. This provides a quick source of energy and brain fuel.
These rare oils are naturally free of cholesterol and hard to find in nature.
This may be part of the reason that coconut oil is so beneficial to the brain and for weight loss. It isn’t digested or stored in the same was as other fats and is more quickly available for use.
Coconut oil is also a decent source of several fat soluble vitamins (mainly A and K) as well as healthy polyphenols.
Allergic to Coconut?
So coconut is great, but many people are allergic or intolerant to it.
I’m often asked what alternatives there are to coconut products for those who are allergic. Those who can’t tolerate coconut may find these alternatives helpful:
- Oils: Instead of coconut, try using palm shortening or oil or animal based fats like lard, butter or tallow. These fats are solid at room temperature like coconut oil is and substitute well in recipes. In recipes calling for a liquid oil, avocado oil and sesame oil substitute well.
- Flour: Coconut Flour is a great grain-free high-fiber flour, but those who can’t tolerate it can experiment with almond flour, cassava flour or oat fiber.
- Milk: Coconut milk is a common alternative for those who can’t tolerate dairy products but pecan milk, cashew milk, and almond milk are good alternatives. Rice milk is also an option for those with nut allergies.
What other coconut oil uses have I forgotten? Share your favorites below!