Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits thanks to its unique mix of fatty acids.
While its benefits like fat loss and better brain functions make this oil a must-have in the kitchen, coconut oil uses go far beyond your cooking.
Coconut oil for hair and skin is already surging in popularity and many attest to its superiority to conventional lotions and creams. But that's not all there is to this superfood oil.
So What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is the edible oil extracted from the "meat" or kernel of a mature coconut. Coconut oil can be extracted using varying methods, which produces different oil types such as unrefined and refined.
At room temperature, coconut oil is solid, and it only begins to melt at 76F.
This makes coconut oil is shelf stable, making it perfect for both uses as skin care and in cooking.
Here are 11 ways you can use and benefits from coconut oil at home.
1. Use as a Healthy Cooking Oil
Coconut oil's high smoke point makes it suitable for all types of cooking and baking, especially for high heat cooking like frying and baking.
Coconut oil contains a specific type of fatty acid that sets this oil apart from the rest. Unlike others, 90% of the coconut oil is saturated, and 40% of which is lauric acid.
Lauric acid is a type of saturated fat known to be healthier thanks to its medium-chain triglyceride or MCT.
This MCT makes lauric acid easier for the body to absorb and bears additional health benefits.
This type of fat lauric acid makes coconut oil highly resistant to oxidation during high heat cooking. In simpler terms, coconut oil doesn't go rancid till it gets really high heat, unlike most other cooking oils (1).
The bottom line is coconut oil contains several types of fatty acids, including lauric acids and medium-chain fatty acids. Together, they make this tropical oil highly resistant to oxidation during high heat cooking methods.
2. Lose Weight and Increase Fat Burn
Believe it or not, exercising and decreasing your total calorie intake are not the only two ways to lose weight and burn fat.
Adding certain types of foods like coconut oil to your diet can affect your body hormones in ways that increase fat burn and fasten your metabolism.
The medium chain triglycerides such as lauric acids have a specific chemical structure that allows your body to absorb them whole. This makes these particular fatty acids more digestible.
This means your body gets to process them similarly to carbs and use them for energy.
This is how coconut oil can positively affect your metabolism as well as increase your calorie burn compared to that of longer chain fats (2).
This is also well proven by a study done on daily consumption of 15-30 grams of medium-chain triglycerides. The results showed 5% increase in calorie burn which is about 120 calories per day (3).
Using coconut oil in your cooking is a great way to boost your metabolism, lose weight and burn fat.
3. It May Help You Lose Belly Fat
Coconut oil may also help you lose belly fat.
And that's a great benefit. As we know, stomach fat is famously the most dangerous fat in the body, especially the deep visceral fat near your organs.
And it has been strongly linked to all sort of diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
If you have excess stomach fat, it's important you take steps to lose it.
Luckily, coconut oil may help rescue, thanks to its medium-chain fatty acids.
According to a study involving 40 female with belly fat obesity, coconut oil helped reduce their waist circumference when compared to taking soybean oil (4).
Another study with 15 women saw virgin coconut oil helped reduce their appetite more than when they took extra-virgin olive oil when mixed into breakfast (5).
Though some researches have promising results, the evidence is still limited and not yet conclusive.
Take it as a grain of salt, and you may just be pleasantly surprised of its added benefit like this belly fat reduction.
4. It Can Decrease Your Appetite and Increase Satiety
The fatty acids in coconut oil are known to decrease hunger and increase satiety.
This may be due to how the body metabolizes fat as opposed to carbohydrates.
Ketones or “ketone bodies” are made when fats are broken down for energy when carbohydrate intake is low. When the body is in a ketosis state, where it's breaking down fat and using it as energy, it can have a hunger reducing effect.
This was evident in one study done on 6 healthy men.
They were fed varying amounts of medium and long-chain fatty acids, and those who took most ate 256 fewer calories a day on average (6).
Another study with 14 healthy men saw a similar result. Those who ate the most amount of medium-chain fatty acids with breakfast had fewer calorie intake later that day (7).
5. The MCTs in Coconut Oil Reduce Epileptic Seizures
One of the powerful benefits of coconut oil is its possible function to aid treatment of epileptic seizures.
By limiting carb intake and increasing fats by a large margin, this diet produces the body the ketones from fat.
These ketones are what serves as the brain's main energy source in times of need. In fact, when blood sugar runs low, the body ups the production of ketones to secure the brain sufficient fuel.
Coconut oil can help with the availability of ketones thanks to its medium chain triglycerides feature (9).
The MCTs allow the liver to process the oil directly into the ketone body, which results in inducing ketosis.
This allows a bit more room for carbs in the ketone diet - a much-appreciated change.
Not only that, use of coconut oil in the keto diet has been linked to prevention of epilepsy seizures with far fewer side effects compared to prescription drugs.
Coconut oil helps with seizures in one additional way. Coconut oil's anti-inflammatory is known to help with brain inflammation caused by epileptic seizures.
6. Better Brain Function in Alzheimer's Patients
Alzheimer's disease causes 80% of dementia cases (10).
Dementia, most known as memory loss, impairs many other cognitive abilities including the ability to source glucose as fuel in parts of the brain.
Coconut oil's fat type, medium chain triglycerides are particularly helpful in Alzheimer cases due to their ability to turn fat into ketones (11).
The brain then can use the ketones as the main energy source, reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
Not just oil, coconut foods are said to be a brain food, improving the overall brain health, as well as chemistry and cognitive functions.
Add coconut oil to your daily meal plan by using it to bake, stir-fry, and marinade. It may lead to prevention of memory loss as well as reduction of dementia symptoms.
7. Moisturise and Nourish Your Skin
Coconut oil is excellent for your skin.
It can be used as an effective moisturizing lotion on all skin types including dry skin.
The natural antioxidants properties in coconut oil help moisturize the skin and prevent your skin from flaking and drying out.
It also aids treatment for various skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and extreme dryness.
Thanks to these benefits, coconut oil has been used as a base ingredient for many skin care products including lotions, creams, and soaps.
Thanks to antioxidant properties, this tropical oil has been said to prevent wrinkles and sagging of skin. Add this oil to your anti-gain skin regimen!
8. Coconut Oil for Hair
Another beneficial use of coconut oil is hair care.
To prevent dandruff and keep hair healthy, many apply the oil directly into the scalp on a daily basis.
According to one study, coconut oil's effects far exceed that of sunflower oil and other mineral oils.
Compared to the other oils, coconut oil showed a signification reduction in protein loss in hair and overall hair damages.
Researchers believe that lauric acids in coconut oil may bring these tremendous benefits and help penetrate the hair shaft in ways other fats can't (12).
9. Reduce Inflammation
Coconut oil's antioxidant properties have shown effective in reducing inflammation.
This was evident in few animal studies. Coconut oil was shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects.
Some human studies also support the findings. They found coconut oil may reduce markers of inflammation and oxidative stress especially in comparison to high unsaturated fats.
10. Natural Deodorant
Believe it or not, the cause of body odor is not the sweat itself. In fact, it's the bacteria on your skin that produces odors.
So it's not surprising antibacterial properties found in coconut oil can help reduce the unpleasant odors.
Combining coconut oil with few other natural ingredients, you can make yourself a natural odor-fighting deodorant with no harsh chemicals.
11. Great Source of Quick Energy
If your body were to describe coconut oil, it would be quick energy.
This greatest benefit and differentiator of coconut oil comes from its one unique feature: medium-chain triglycerides.
From fat loss to increased satiety, seizure treatment to dementia prevention, coconut oil's contributions to your better health is greatly indebted to its ability to metabolize fat fast and use it as energy.
Put simply, it serves as a quick energy source for your body and brain.
Compared to most fats' long-chain triglycerides, medium-chain triglycerides allow fatty acids to go directly from the gut to liver, where quick energy is made available without raising blood sugar.
Take Home Message
Out of many plant-based healthy oils, coconut oil has one of the highest numbers of uses and benefits.
Most of the uses are also practical and immediately applicable like its application as a moisturizer and hair cream.
For others, its benefits are invaluable and life-changing like its benefits as seizure prevention.
Whatever benefits you are after and however way you use your coconut oil, the best selection always starts with organic, virgin unrefined coconut oil.
It's one easy way to ensure you get the most out of your coconut oil and its benefits.
Also, if you intend to use your oil as a cream, store it in the room temperature as when its melting point is 76F.