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An Introduction to Coconut Oil and Its Uses

Updated on October 28, 2016
Coconut oil can be remarkably beneficial both when eaten and when applied topically.
Coconut oil can be remarkably beneficial both when eaten and when applied topically. | Source

Coconut oil can be a remarkably beneficial product – both internally and externally. Whether you incorporate it as an ingredient in your favorite recipes or you apply it topically as part of your beauty regimen, you might be surprised to learn just how many uses there are for coconut oil.

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is created via a process similar to that used to create olive oil. The main difference, of course, is that coconut oil is derived from the meat of the coconut, rather than the olive. A variety of different manufacturing processes can produce coconut oil, some that rely on pre-dried coconut and others that use raw coconut. Coconut oil will take the form of a soft solid below 76 degrees, but will easily melt into a liquid at higher temperatures. It can be safely stored at room temperature, with no need for refrigeration.

Coconut oil will have a soft, creamy consistency at room temperature or below.
Coconut oil will have a soft, creamy consistency at room temperature or below. | Source

Topical Uses of Coconut Oil

One of coconut oil’s most popular and effective uses is as a skin moisturizer. In fact, many find that it actually works far better than today’s over-priced and over-processed name brand moisturizers. The primary reason for this is that most of the skin moisturizers available for sale rely on some type of petroleum jelly, which tends to clog the skin and leave it feeling greasy and smothered. In addition, most moisturizers contain water, which only makes your skin feel moisturized for a short time. Once that water evaporates, your skin will often be even more dehydrated than it was before.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, will provide a healthy, natural and fast-absorbing source of moisture that benefits your skin’s health in the long term, and can even help reduce the appearance of shadows and wrinkles under the eyes. In fact, some have found it to prevent stretch marks as well, and to help fade ones that have already appeared. Many use it on their lips too, instead of Chapstick – and even on their nails for a younger, healthier look. Coconut oil also works as well or even better than expensive makeup removers and shaving creams.

Coconut oil is also popular as a substitute for ordinary hair conditioner, and is particularly useful at helping prevent frizz and split ends. In addition, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that coconut oil makes an effective substitute for sunscreen as well, blocking 20 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce
Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce

Coconut oil makes an amazing moisturizer for the hair and skin.

 

Coconut Oil in Cooking and Baking

You can use coconut oil as a substitute for other types of oil in many dishes you bake or cook. Many chefs and bakers like using coconut oil because it has a very low smoke point compared to most oils, which means that it will not easily become damaged or unstable during cooking. It is also popular mixed into coffee instead of creamer to create a decadent treat.

One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 14 grams of fat and 12 grams of saturated fat. It is high in saturated fat, as you can see, but it does not contain any dietary cholesterol or trans fats. In fact, some studies have found that consuming coconut oil in moderation can actually help lower blood cholesterol levels. In addition, foods made with coconut oil tend to be more filling, leading to a decreased appetite and lower calorie consumption in those who eat them.

Many different delicious baked goods and other dishes can be created with coconut oil.
Many different delicious baked goods and other dishes can be created with coconut oil. | Source

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Studies are ongoing about many of the health benefits of consuming coconut oil, but research so far has discovered some intriguing potential benefits, to say the least. For example, one study found that women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil per day for three months carried reduced levels of fat on their midsections compared to women who did not consume coconut oil.

Other potential health benefits of consuming coconut oil may include:

  • Improved thyroid function
  • Prevention of harmful oxidation, which leads to typical signs of aging
  • Improved brain function for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease

Of course, not all benefits have yet been established without question, but again, research so far (on both these benefits and others) is extremely promising. Coconut oil truly is a remarkable product.

Do you prefer to consume coconut oil or to use it topically?

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References

Huffington Post: “Coconut Oil for Skin, Hair, Body: 6 Things to Know About the Super Ingredient”

Health Magazine: “10 Surprising Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil”

WebMD: “Coconut Oil”

Prevention Magazine: “10 Amazing Beauty Tricks With Coconut Oil”

Lipids: “Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity”

BMC Neuroscience: “Hypometabolism as a Therapeutic Target in Alzheimer's Disease”

USDA Agricultural Research Service: “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27: Oil, Coconut”

Pharmacognosy Reviews: “Potential of Herbs in Skin Protection From Ultraviolet Radiation”

WebMD: “The Truth About Coconut Oil”

Wellness Mama: “101 Uses for Coconut Oil”

Medical News Today: “What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil?”

Doctor Oz: “The Surprising Health Benefits of Coconut Oil”

Authority Nutrition: “10 Proven Health Benefits of Coconut Oil”

© 2015 CJMcAllister

What is your favorite way to use coconut oil?

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