The Benefits Of Coconut Oil

The Benefits Of Coconut OilI first learned about the benefits of coconut oil from Melissa Costello, Tony Horton’s personal chef. I stopped using vegetable oils and started using only olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil. The more I read the more I learned about all the benefits of coconut oil. For many years we’ve been led to believe that coconut oil wasn’t good for us. We were told that saturated fats are bad for us and since coconut oil has saturated fat it must be bad for us. Just like all these years that they have been saying that avocados are bad for us because of all the fat, but now we have found out that it’s the healthy fat that matters.

Tropic Cultures Have Found the Benefits of Coconut Oil

If you look at tropical cultures that use coconuts and coconut oil in their diets, you find that they do not have clogged arteries or heart disease. They are lean and healthy. According to Dr. Oz, coconut oil is “one fat that diabetics can eat without fear. Not only does it not contribute to diabetes, but it helps regulate blood sugar, thus lessening the effects of the disease.”

Prior to 1970, Americans used coconut oil. However in the 70’s and 80’s the Food and Drug Administration warned against using coconut oil due to it’s high saturated fat content. Little did we know that it contains healthy saturated fat. Around this time companies started to replace coconut oil with trans fats. This is also around the time we started seeing a rise in obesity.

Health officials have been telling us that saturated fats (or trans fats) lead to heart disease, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer’s. So, for many years Americans watched their saturated fat intake and yet we still had all these same problems. What we’ve come to find out is that all saturated fats are not the same. Some saturated fats are naturally occurring, while others are man-made. You can probably guess which ones are better for us :). Yes, ones that occur naturally like coconut oil. You still need to limit these oils, but choosing more natural oil over man-made oil is always a better choice.

What is hydrogenated oil? Hydrogenation is a chemical process that takes a vegetable oil and submits it to high-heat, over 400 degrees. Hydrogen is then bubbled through it for several hours in the presence of a metallic catalyst, such as nickel or aluminum. The hydrogenation process destroys any biological activity by causing the carbon atoms to bond differently which changes its molecular structure so that it will have a greater shelf-life. This process turns the oil into a solid at room temperature and can be found in many foods to help preserve them. That’s great for manufacturers, but not for the consumer. You’ll find hydrogenated oils in just about everything processed like frozen waffles, cereal bars, crackers, cookies, dressings, dips, non-dairy creamers, breads, tortillas, and the list goes on and on.

Another one of the benefits of coconut oil is that it is a rich natural source of medium-chain fatty acids which are easily digested and immediately burned by your liver for energy. Medium-chain fatty acids also help speed up your metabolism, and help your body use fat for energy instead of storing fat, which can help you become leaner. Apparently in the 1940’s, farmers used coconut oil, which was cheap at the time, to fatten up their animals. However, instead of the animals gaining weight they got leaner, more active, and hungry.

 The Benefits of Coconut Oil

1. increases metabolism and improves energy levels

2. supports thyroid function

3. promotes weight loss

4. improves calcium and magnesium absorption in the body, which benefits bone and dental health

5. improves your skin when applied topically

6. helps in your digestion

7. supports the immune system

How your body gets the benefits of coconut oil

Almost 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is from a naturally occurring acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin in the body, and this has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It disrupts the lipid membranes in organisms, like fungus and bacteria, and destroys them. Without a plentiful source of lauric acid, the body can’t produce monolaurin so all these benefits are lost.

Unsaturated fats are what are mainly involved in heart disease, not naturally occurring saturated fats like coconut oil.

How Can I Get the Benefits of Coconut Oil?

You can use coconut oil in your cooking in place of most other oils.

1. Use it for stir frying and high heat recipes instead of extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil should not be used at high heat only medium heat, so if you’re sautéing.

2. You can use coconut oil in your baking. Substitute it for the grapeseed oil in the vegan chocolate chip cookies I shared in a previous post.

3. Substitute coconut oil in fudge recipes, pudding, cakes, soups, pie crusts, salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, smoothies for extra protein, the list is endless.

palm oil tree
Palm Oil Tree

In case you’ve heard of palm oil and are thinking that it’s the same as coconut oil, it isn’t. Coconut oil and palm oil come from two different species of palm trees.

Coconut oil tree
Coconut oil tree








One thing you might want to know about coconut oil if you haven’t ever used it is that normally when you buy it, it will be solid. You want to gently melt it before you use it in most recipes. In the summer sometimes your coconut oil will be in liquid form and sometimes in solid form depending on the temperature of your house.

It’s also great as a moisturizer and it’s great to use on your hair. Many people also use this to do oil pulling. This is where you take about 1 Tbsp of coconut oil and swish it all around in your mouth for about 20 mins. Then spit it into a baggy or the trash. This is get the plaque off your teeth and you’ll be amazed at the benefits to your gums. Be prepared for the dental hygienist to ask you what you’ve been doing. The benefits of coconut oil and uses are endless.

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