The word ‘oil’ might have had a bad reputation in the past, but right now oils are spearheading a health revolution all on their own!
Virgin olive oil has solidified its place as a staple in kitchens both private and professional alike, and vegetable, sesame and other plant-based oils have made their mark in the culinary world as well. But coconut oil is blazing through its other counterparts and earning rave reviews, all in good reason - its inherent benefits for us, both inside and out. Versatile is this oil’s first, middle, and last names, be it for cooking, beauty, health, or even general home improvements. It’s no wonder that some can even name up to 200 of the everyday uses for coconut oil!
We won’t be naming hundreds of coconut oil’s wonderful applications, but we are going to give you tons of good reasons why you should stock your pantries with it.
What About Coconut Oil?
First, coconut oil is about 90% of saturated fats. High saturated fats often related to the raised in LDL cholesterol level - the bad cholesterol, which then increases the risk of heart disease. The good news about coconut oil is that the saturated fats in it are predominantly medium-chain fatty acids, making a healthier choice. Medium-chain fatty acids also known as the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) provide a wide range of health benefits. Instead of being stored as fat, the MCT in coconut oil helps in enhancing our metabolism to burn even more calories.
In the aspect of heart health, coconut oil is beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis. It gives us a better lipid profile as it reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol in our body. Almost half of the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. The high lauric acids in the coconut oils are effective in fighting viruses, bacterial infections and fungal infections.
- As a creamer in your coffee
For many of us, a day is not kicked off right unless we have a steaming cuppa soon after dragging ourselves out of bed; perhaps with a cube of sugar or two and a generous heaping of creamer to perfect that daily dose of caffeine indulgence, if that’s up your alley. Here’s a healthy, yet yummy thought: why not switch the processed, high-fat creamers for coconut oil?
Stir, or blend in a teaspoon of coconut oil well in freshly-brewed coffee for a smooth yet rich drink that will certainly perk you up at any time of the day due to its energising properties.
- As a butter/oil replacement
Substitute your regular oil/butter use with coconut oil! Coconut oil is praised for its stellar role in adding flavour to both savoury and sweet recipes. Due to its high smoke point, it’s a good alternative when you need to cook in high temperatures. Use it to coat skillets beforehand too for easier clean-up after!
It’s great for sautéing vegetables, and for baking due to it adding moisture and a decadent richness to whatever recipe that calls for it, all while keeping your body happy and healthy. Some also swear by it as a delicious spread for toast, with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nuts on top.
As a replacement for butter and oil in cooking and baking, the suggested ratios are usually 1:1, but feel free to adjust according to your own preference.
Ultimately, when it comes to whipping up some tasty dishes using coconut oil, the sky’s the limit – from making your own mayonnaise and salad dressing with it as a base, to granolas and blending it with smoothies – experiment to see how you best enjoy coconut oil in your meals.
- As a skin moisturiser
Do commercial moisturizers available dry your skin out instead of providing round-the-clock suppleness? Look to coconut oil for a natural way to moisturise. According to celebrity nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder, it provides real and deep moisture, while strengthening underlying tissues and removing dead skin cells that can give the skin an awful flaky texture.
Coconut oil is also full of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, so it helps heal damaged tissues while slowing down signs of ageing! Used as the sole source of sun protection by millions of people in the tropics, coconut oil also provides natural protection from sunburn and skin cancer without blocking beneficial UV radiation. Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial functions, coconut oil is also able to prevent infections that exacerbate cracked heels, eczema and acne too. It’s also great as a massage oil, when combined with essential oils of your choice. Your skin will thank you!
- To treat damaged hair
Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that will drink up the moisturising goodness of coconut oil – it also prevents sun damage and dehydration for the hair. Coconut oil is a favourite go-to natural hair conditioner that is extremely nourishing, keeping hair soft, shiny and strong. The lauric acid in coconut oil also adds protection against hair damage too. Although its role in stimulating hair growth has been met with contradicting results, coconut oil still slides into the haircare role perfectly. You’ll never have a hair out of place again!
- Make your own beauty goodies!
Get a little crafty with coconut oil by making your own homemade beauty goodies that smell as yummy as they look! Coconut oil is great as a base for making soaps as it helps add hardness to the soap, and helps break down grease and oils. It’s also great as a lotion; a few drops of essential oils of choice whipped into it helps to throw in a lovely hint to the light sweetness of coconut oil.
- Cleans makeup brushes
The oil removes the grime from your tools while protecting the bristles. Dip the brushes into (liquid) coconut oil and use a tissue to remove the product. Rinse off the oil with warm water and baby shampoo.
- Helps in weight loss
Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat in the world, with 90% of its fatty acids being saturated – but the good news is the type of fatty acids it has, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), is burned off as energy instead of being stored as fat. One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5%, totalling about 120 calories per day.
Coconut oil also helps in balancing hormones that reduce stress and anxiety - two primary causes of belly fat! It also acts as an appetite suppressant – when the fatty acids are metabolised, they transform into ketones, which are believed to have an appetite-reducing effect.
- Supports healthy thyroid function
Coconut oil has a saturated and stable fat structure, and the uniqueness of it and its particular fat balance is beneficial to the thyroid. The MCTs in coconut oil assist in the conversion of cholesterol into pregnenolone, which is one of the building blocks for the synthesis of hormones responsible for healthy thyroid function. Thyroid function is extremely crucial – it regulates our breathing, heart rate, cholesterol levels, and nervous system just to name a few, so keeping it in tip-top shape should be at the top of our health agendas.
Coconut oil is a health powerhouse – it’s also able to reduce seizures and Alzheimer’s and even reduce the risk of heart disease! So for beauty both inside and out, coconut oil is the way to go.
But wait! What about the other everyday uses of coconut oil that are not related to personal grooming or lip-smacking meals? Don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too.
- Polishes wooden floors & furniture
Wood polish keeps wooden floors and furniture looking shiny, sleek and clean, a crowning achievement for any home! Unfortunately, the synthetic material does not last. Coconut oil is a good alternative – mix with lemon juice for a shine booster for wood polish that is easy to make and smells much better than your regular store-bought wood polish. Coconut oil by itself is great for leather polishing too.
- As a homemade laundry detergent
A brilliant idea by Wellness Mama suggests using grated leftover bar soap and coconut oil for a detergent that keeps your clothes clean yet smelling fresh.
- Greases up squeaky hinges and chains
Lubricate hinges, from doors to scissors with coconut oil to get them in proper working order, while getting rid of the annoying squeaking that comes with it. It works well for bicycle chains too, and even getting zippers unstuck.
- Gets gum out of your carpet
We all know how difficult it is to separate gum from whatever surface it decides to attach itself to – coconut oil is here to save the day! Apply it to the spot and allow to sit for a while before sliding off. This works well for removing the sticky residue that stickers and labels tend to leave behind upon being lifted too.
The list above is by no means exhaustive - from home, beauty, to food, coconut oil has a variety of uses and we’ve barely touched the surface. For a longer read, check out the 28 health benefits of coconut oil here. We'd love to hear how coconut oil helps you!