The Many Uses of Coconut Oil
By Leah Lancione
For years, health experts have touted the benefits of extra virgin olive oil. But now it seems that the more we read the more apparent it is that coconut oil is the overachiever. This health food is versatile because it can be used for cooking, natural health and beauty treatments, as well as medicine. Uses range from coffee creamer, body moisturizer, wrinkle reducer, cooking oil and more. According to author and Exodus Health Center founder Dr. Josh Axe, “Coconut oil contains three unique fatty acids in lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid that are some of the rarest in nature. These medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) have tremendous health benefits and are easily burned as fuel for energy and have anti-microbial properties.” Dr. Axe has published his favorite uses and cures for coconut oil on his website www.draxe.com
Studies show the many benefits of coconut oil include balancing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, aiding digestion, balancing hormones and even revving the metabolism, to name a few. Coconut oil is the best choice for cooking or frying food at high heat because, unlike olive oil and some other oils, it remains stable and doesn’t oxidize when heated to a high temperature and it is comprised of healthy saturated fats. Coconut oil in solid form will transform to liquid at temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit with all healthy and nutrition properties remaining the same in the liquid state. Coconut oil should be stored in a cool, dry place; refrigeration is not necessary but acceptable.
Many cooks prefer coconut oil and nutritionists have described it as “the healthiest oil on earth” because it contains no trans or hydrogenated fats, it is gluten- and GMO-free and contains no dangerous chemicals. Here are 10 of Dr. Axe’s favorite uses for coconut oil:
- Coffee creamer: add a spoonful of coconut oil to coffee to replace a nondairy artificial creamer or to replace dairy creamer.
- Healthy popcorn topping: pop organic corn kernels in coconut oil and then drizzle a touch more of melted coconut oil and sea salt.
- Replacement for nonstick cooking spray: add a teaspoon of coconut oil to a pan when frying or on the inside of a nonstick dish, cake pans or sheets before baking.
- Substitute for unhealthy fats in baking: use the same amount of coconut oil as called for with butter, margarine or vegetable oil.
- Natural throat lozenge: use coconut oil in place of store-bought lozenges made with artificial colors and flavors. Swallow 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil three times a day to ease a sore throat or cough.
- Skin moisturizer: coconut oil can moisturize your face because it absorbs easily and is nongreasy. At room temperature coconut oil is a solid that will melt quickly when it comes in contact with your hand. Use a pea-sized amount and rub in a circular motion on your face. Let it sit for five minutes and then wipe clean.
- Wrinkle reducer: dab a touch of coconut oil around the eyes to fight aging or leave oil on overnight to soak in.
- Makeup remover: dab a small amount of coconut oil on eye makeup to liquefy it and then wipe off easily by rubbing in a circular motion. Coconut oil will not irritate the eyes.
- Lip balm: instead of using commercial lip balms that are often packed with unhealthy (and potentially toxic) ingredients, combine two tablespoons of coconut oil with two tablespoons of beeswax and one tablespoon of shea butter in a nonstick saucepan. Warm slowly until melted. Allow the balm to cool and set for six hours before using.
- Cellulite solution: to fight stubborn cellulite, mix one tablespoon of coconut oil with 10 drops of grapefruit essential oil and massage in a circular motion in the affected areas.
According to health.com coconut oil also has properties that are valuable in health and beauty activities including:
- Shaving cream: to avoid razor burn or ingrown hairs, use pure coconut oil by dabbing a small amount in your hands and then apply to face, under arms, legs or bikini area before shaving. Note: shave outside the shower to prevent slippage.
- Hair moisturizer mask: melt coconut oil by running the jar under warm water. Then, apply a small amount to wet strands of hair or where needed to repair split ends, prevent fly-aways, add shine or combat frizz. Twist hair into a bun, let it sit for five minutes and then rinse and style.
- Body oil: Apply a quarter-sized amount right after a shower and let it sink into warm skin. The light tropical scent will linger after applied.
- Cuticle softener: Swipe a small amount of oil onto each cuticle and allow it to sink in, strengthening nails and hydrating the cuticle skin.
- Body scrub: Mix half a cup of sea salt or sugar with an equal amount of melted coconut oil and then rub it over rough patches of skin to remove dead skin cells and moisturize.
Coconut oil is also a remedy for many household problems or perfect for many daily chores. According to motherearthliving.com try these applications:
- Homemade deodorant: Mix one-fourth cup baking soda with one-fourth cup cornstarch. Then, add six tablespoons coconut oil and mix in with a fork. Apply to eliminate odors.
- Stain remover: Mix one part coconut oil with one part baking soda for a natural stain remover for upholstery and carpets. Apply mixture to stain and let sit for a few minutes before wiping it away.
- Furniture polish: To make wood furniture really shine, combine one-fourth cup melted coconut oil, four tablespoons distilled white vinegar and two teaspoons lemon juice in a spray bottle and shake well. To use, spray on wood and wipe with a clean cloth.
- Insect repellent: mix eight ounces coconut oil with 40-50 drops peppermint essential oil and apply to skin to repel pests.
There are countless other uses for coconut oil from makeup and hairbrush cleaner, rust reducer and baby ointment and diaper rash guard and more. The next time you visit your local grocery or health food store, pick up a jar of coconut oil. Just make sure to choose certified organic, cold-pressed and extra virgin.