Coconut oil has been used extensively in tropical countries and has recently become popular in the United States, but what most of us don't realize is that it had also been popular in the United States until the 1970s. A strong propaganda campaign was initiated in the 1970s by the corn and soy oil industries against coconut oil. Coconut oil was considered harmful for the human body due to its high saturated fat content until this last decade when people began to question the claims of the propaganda. The claims against saturated fats have been determined to be false and thus coconut oil's popularity has increased again.
Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat known to man, with almost 90% of the fatty acids in it being saturated. However, new data is showing that saturated fats are harmless. Many studies that include hundreds of thousands of people prove that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a myth. Also, coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill saturated fats like you would find in cheese or steak. Instead, it contains Medium Chain Triglycerides which are fatty acids of a medium length.
Most of the fatty acids in the diet are long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source energy or turned into ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
The health benefits of coconut oil are numerous. They include boosted immune system, weight loss, stress relief, hair care, skin care, cholesterol level maintenance, proper digestion, regulated metabolism. It also provides relief from heart disease, kidney problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength...whew!!!
Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid. When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. So coconut oil has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.
So all of that is really super cool, but how do I use coconut oil in my everyday life? Here are the main ways that my family uses coconut oil.
1) Cooking - I use coconut oil in place of other oils or butter in my cooking, especially anytime I am sautéing anything. I also occasionally put a small spoonful of it in my coffee or tea. Ingesting it aids in digestion, weight loss, immune system function, etc.
2) Skin care - Coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer and also helps with wrinkles and aging skin. So put away the lotions filled with harmful chemicals and give it a try! It can help fight off athlete's foot and diaper rash too and can be used as an effective sunscreen.
3) Hair care - My two girls and I love to use coconut oil on our hair. It's one of the best natural nutrients for your hair. It's an excellent conditioner, moisturizer for your scalp and helps to keep your scalp free from lice and lice eggs. We rub a small amount on the ends of our hair after washing and/or rub a small amount into the scalp area.
4) Dental care - Coconut oil helps to develop strong teeth and stop tooth decay. I take a small spoonful and let it melt on my tongue and then swish it around in my mouth for 10-20 minutes. The hardest part for me is letting it melt in my mouth. For some reason it just feels kind of gross. It can also be melted by putting it in a cup and running it under warm water first and then use it like a mouthwash.
Next up I plan to make my own homemade deodorant using coconut oil as the base. I've heard that coconut oil with baking soda, cornstarch and essential oil is a nice replacement for store bought, chemical filled options. I'll let you know how it goes!
These are the main ways that I have incorporated coconut oil into our household. There are many other ways to use it and many many more benefits than what I've included in this post. I would love to hear how you are using it. Please leave me a comment or send me an email.