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To say that I love coconut oil would be an understatement. If you asked me what one food I always have on hand, it would be coconut oil. I have two quart jars of coconut oil (one refined and one virgin) on my counters at all times. So, why do I love coconut oil so much? Well, because it has so many health benefits and a wide variety of uses, plus, it tastes good!

Health Benefits

Let’s start off with the health benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil, along with other saturated fats, used to be shunned because of their supposed link to heart disease. Because of all of the negative press that saturated fats have received over the last century, it is taking a long time to re-educate the general populace that saturated fats are actually good for you and are not the cause of heart disease. Coconut oil’s popularity is growing quickly, but it’s not quite back into the mainstream diet … yet. What’s even more promising is that the scientific community is beginning to acknowledge the potential health benefits of this oil. Coconut oil has been reported to:

  • Have anti-microbial properties and help kill viruses, bacteria, yeasts, parasites, and fungus
  • Support proper thyroid function (especially helpful for hypothyroid)
  • Provide a boost in energy
  • Stimulate metabolism and increase thermogenesis (fat burning)
  • Aid in digestion and improve the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients
  • Support insulin levels and help regulate blood sugar
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Help prevent heart disease
  • Stimulate healing when applied as a topical treatment to wounds and bacterial skin infections
  • Boost brain function, especially in those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Control dandruff
  • Help prevent wrinkles and sagging skin

This is far from a comprehensive list of all of the health benefits of coconut oil, but as you can see, coconut oil has many potential benefits when incorporated into a healthy diet.

What Makes Coconut Oil So Magical?

Since the middle of the 20th century, saturated fat has been portrayed as a the bad guy. This all started when vegetable oils made their debut on the market as a “healthier” option, and traditional fats like butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, etc., were shunned. This was the same time that the “experts” began telling us that saturated fats increase cholesterol, which in turn increases heart disease. Hmmm … where has that “good” advice gotten us? We are now in a national health crisis as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other preventable diseases are at almost epidemic proportions. Yet, most people don’t eat saturated fats (because they have been told that they’re bad for them), so it’s pretty obvious that saturated fats are not the cause.

Turns out that saturated fat is actually an essential nutrient that is needed for the body to maintain proper cellular function. Coconut oil has the highest amount of saturated fats, at 92%, but well over half of those are made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). One of the main things that makes coconut oil so healthy is that it is nature’s most abundant source of these special fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are metabolized much differently in the human body than long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), which is what most vegetable and seed oils consist of. Contrary to the advice that you will hear from most mainstream physicians, MCFAs do not raise cholesterol levels and they actually have been shown to help protect against heart disease. As more people learn the truth, they will see that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease — why people with higher cholesterol levels have actually been shown to live longer than those with lower levels! See my post on The Saturated Fat Myth for more info on this topic.

Lauric Acid

Now that we know about MCFAs, let’s take it a step further. There is one very important MCFA found in coconut oil and it is called lauric acid. Coconut oil contains about 50% lauric acid. Where is the best place to find lauric acid outside of coconut oil? Mother’s breast milk and it is there for a very important reason. Lauric acid is critical for immune development and function. It is not only needed by babies and growing children, but it is also essential nutrient for all humans in that it helps keep our immune systems functioning properly. In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon recommends that people with compromised immune systems should consume between 20 and 25 grams of lauric acid per day, which is the equivalent of 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil. Most researchers state that 3.5 tablespoons per day is the optimum dose for adults, regardless of whether your immune system is compromised or not.

What Kind of Coconut Oil Should I Buy?

There are two main types of coconut oil: virgin and refined. It is important to note that unlike the olive oil industry, there are no standards for “virgin” and “extra virgin” coconut oils. The term “extra” is simply a marketing term and does not indicate higher quality. There really is no such thing as “extra virgin” coconut oil.

Virgin coconut oils are going to retain the scent and taste of coconut. They will be made from fresh coconut meat (called non-copra), either through the process of drying the fresh coconut and then pressing out the oil, or a process called “wet-milling”, where the oil is extracted from the fresh coconut meat without drying it first. Virgin coconut oil is very shelf-stable and typically has a shelf life of two years, but if kept in a dark, cool, dry place, it will most likely last much longer.

You may hear a lot of people say that you should always avoid refined coconut oils, but this is not true. Refined coconut oil is perfectly safe to eat and is great for those who may not like the taste or scent of coconut. It’s also handy when you’re making something that you need a neutral tasting or smelling oil in. The key when looking for refined coconut oils is to make sure that the brand you are purchasing from has not used any chemicals, solvents, bleaches, or deodorizers when processing the coconut oil. The brand I purchase uses a steam deodorizing technique that yields a delicious, neutral-flavored oil, without the use of anything harmful. Processing information should be available on each brand’s website, and if it’s not, they should be able to provide that to you if you call or write them.

How Do I Use Coconut Oil?

This is my favorite, and most frequently asked question, when I am discussing the topic with others. There are literally hundreds of uses for coconut oil. The best, and easiest, way to start using coconut oil is in your cooking and baking. Use it as a replacement for unhealthy vegetable oils in recipes. Use it to fry and saute. Add it to smoothies, tea, or coffee (I love it in my herbal coffee — yum!). Make healthy candies or coconut oil fudge. Spread it on your toast like you would butter (and I have nothing against butter — it’s a good fat too!). Or, if you’re like me and enjoy the taste of coconut oil, you can just eat it off the spoon!

In addition to dietary uses, coconut oil also has a wide variety of other uses too. Some uses include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair conditioner
  • Makeup remover
  • Massage oil
  • Diaper cream
  • And more!

There are literally hundreds of ways that people use coconut oil for more than just cooking and baking. If you’re in need of some new ideas, check out my post 122 Uses for Coconut Oil. It is probably one of the most versatile products that I have in my home! I hope you’ll check it out, if you haven’t already!

About Delicious Obsessions

Head-shot-1Jessica Espinoza is a real food nut, coconut oil enthusiast, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. Jessica began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she has been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. She loves to show people how making even small changes in their diet and food selections can make a huge difference in their lives. Visit her site at www.deliciousobsessions.com, or visit her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.




Article References:

Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig. Newtrends Publishing, Inc., 1999

Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil“. CoconutOil.com

The Virgin Coconut Oil Book. Brian and Marianita Shilhavy. Sophia Media, 2012.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat. Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. Plume, 2004

Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. Dr. Mary Enig. Bethesda Press, 2000

About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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13 Responses to Health Benefits of Coconut Oil – Guest Post

  1. Wendy says:

    I’ve been using coconut oil for years, but I never knew that its just the process for refining the oil that you have to be weary of. I’ve just stayed away from it completely.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Misty says:

    I love coconut oil and have used for many years now. I have been using the DoTerra line and find myself wanting to explore with another option of Coconut Oil.

    • Amanda says:

      Nutiva is organic and you can get a big container of it at costco. I use that on a day to day basis, and Tropical Traditions Black Label for my daily intake. (They do blogger reviews so you might check them out). Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Heidi says:

    I have never used it before, but will look for it the next time I’m at the store. This was a very enlightening post! Thank you!

  4. amanda says:

    I use a lot more coconut products than before. I forgot deodorant when we went to my inlaws and i used some coconut oil they had there and surprisingly it worked!

  5. BarbaraT says:

    So, which brand do you use. Looks like you’ve done a fair amount of research and know your coconut oil 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      I am loving the Organic Nutiva brand coconut oil that I can get at costco because it is a good quality and affordable. I LOVE Tropical Traditions black label coconut oil, but its a bit more pricey. Hop over to Delicious Obsessions and see what Jessica says!

  6. Roz says:

    I love coconut oil and loved this post! I don’t think many people realize how useful the coconut is. Imagine that it was once considered unhealthy because of saturated fat! (haha). Shared with my Facebook readers. 🙂

  7. […] have written a lot about coconut oil over here at Delicious Obsessions, but today, you can find me over at my friend Amanda’s blog. She writes the Natural Living Mamma site, which is an amazing blog with lots of great information […]

  8. […] Coconut oil is also in the category of  ”what can’t this amazing thing do?”. Coconut oil has wonderful saturated fatty acids and alpha linoleic acids (ALA) that are wonderful at nourishing, repairing, and rejuvenated tortured and abused skin. Its moisturizing, nourishing, regenerating, and antimicrobial benefits make it perfect for the skin. You can even make whipped coconut oil to make it feel like lotion. […]

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