So I’m finally jumping on the coconut oil bandwagon. Its benefits are touted in articles all over social media, and I have friends who’ve been raving about it forever. I suppose I was reluctant to try it because anything with the word “oil” doesn’t sound very healthy (not to mention the high calorie count; one tablespoon has 130+ calories). Back in the days when everyone thought all fat was “bad,” coconut oil was seen as one of the worst (it’s all saturated fat). Now we know that coconut oil isn’t just “good,” but some have called it a “miracle oil.” Not only can you cook with it, add it to coffee or smoothie or use in place of butter, but it’s also a great moisturizer for your skin and hair (making it an economical alternative to pricey salon brands).
Last week, after again seeing an article on Facebook about it, I remembered to pick up a jar while grocery shopping. Much to my surprise, it’s sold not as an “oil” in liquid form, but as a solid. So it looks, and has the texture of, Crisco (basically has the consistency of lard). I put mine in my morning coffee and the heat quickly melts it into liquid. There really isn’t much of a taste, either… just a very mild “coconutty” flavor.
Here are some benefits to making coconut oil a daily staple in your diet (or your shower)…
- Helps Control Weight
Coconut oil helps speed up metabolism, which in turn causes your body to burn more calories throughout the day. It helps regulate thyroid and other important hormones, which can keep your endocrine system in balance, which helps keep the weight off. Coconut oil also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and limits insulin spikes (too much insulin can cause your body to store fat instead of burn it). This in turn can help ward off diabetes. One study found that consuming two tablespoons of coconut oil a day helps decrease abdominal fat, which is harder to lose, and contributes to heart problems.
- Improves Heart Health
Once thought to increase LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), coconut oil actually does the opposite. The lauric acid in it actually helps the heart and can increase HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” one).
- Boosts Your Immunity
Coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties… which means it can help your body better fight off cold and flu viruses, and can even help keep those dreaded yeast infections away (it controls candida)! It also has significant antioxidant properties! Oxidation of cells contributes to skin aging and organ damage, which the antioxidants in coconut oil combat.
- Great Moisturizer for Hair and Skin
It’s a great deep conditioner for your hair, and can help repair damaged strands while adding shine and moisture to dry tresses. And the antioxidants and natural fatty acids found in coconut oil not only add moisture to dry skin, but can help reduce the signs of aging! It also provides some protection from skin-damaging ultraviolet rays, so it can act as a sunscreen. It also makes for a great massage lotion and even a personal lubricant! We have a few more uses here.
One important caveat: try to buy organic, unrefined coconut oil (which is usually very easy to find). That way, you’ll cut down on exposure to toxic pesticides and chemicals, which can also be absorbed through your skin in addition to consuming it. Organic coconut oil is relatively cheap (around $20 a jar) and it’s quite the bang for your buck. I’ll be honest: I haven’t been using it long enough to know if I’m losing weight. But I can definitely say it curbs my appetite (so I’m less likely to snack), and it is a great moisturizer. So next time you’re grocery shopping (usually found in the “health market” or organic section), toss a jar of this healthy oil into your cart!