Chantelle is passionate about food and natural medicine. Her blog, www.nakedcuisine.com is all about exploring and celebrating the goodness of food through wholesome paleo recipes that maximize nourishment and supporting her local food system. She sees healthy eating as a gateway into the body and spirit as well as an opportunity to take a proactive approach to holistic wellness. Chantelle has studied in the fields of nutrition, herbalism, yoga and cooking. She is a passionate mama working at trying to create a better world for the next generation.
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Article originally published on Root and Sprout here
Coconut oil has made the journey from villain to victor in the health food world.
How did such a drastic change come about? What made people change their minds about the numerous benefits of coconut oil?
This story is tied in with the saturated fat myth that to this day runs rampant spreading misconceptions.
Coconut Oil And The Saturated Fat Myth
The myth that saturated fats makes you fat, came about in the late 1970's. People were led to believe from health authorities that foods high in saturated fat were to be avoided. Foods such as butter, egg yolks, animal fats and, of course, coconut oil.
The premise behind this notion is that saturated fat would raise LDL cholesterol, which in turn would clog the arteries and lead to heart diseases. Many studies were done, however they all had one fatal flaw.
The studies showing a link between saturated fats and heart disease were also grouping trans fats into the same category. Trans fats are fat molecules which have literally been transformed, such as the hydrogenation process vegetable oils undergo to become margarine.
Trans fatty acids can be linked to heart disease and other health problems, but it certainly isn't fair to put naturally occurring saturated fats in the same category.
Since the hay day of the saturated fat myth, more and more scientific evidence is being released to prove just the opposite. Many indigenous cultures around the world value saturated fats for their nourishing properties.
Take a look at the Inuit of Northern Canada, they used to survive harsh winters eating mainly seal blubber and fish. Modern science is starting to see that the diets of our ancestors were far more balanced, you didn't have any incidence of the diseases we are facing today.
Ancestral diet has a huge role to play in this, and as you can see, our ancestors weren't afraid of a little fat.
Over 50 Coconut Oil Uses - Some Might Surprise You
1. Coconut Oil for Cooking
2. Coconut Oil as a Substitute for Butter
Use coconut oil to replace butter in recipes, you can make anything from pie crust to brownies, rich sauces and curries. The flavor isn't overbearing but you may get a faint tropical taste, most recipes that use any spices will cover up the taste of the coconut oil.
3. Great for Vegan and Paleo
4. Nutritional Food Booster
Add coconut oil to smoothies to make the nutrients in your fruits and vegetables more absorbable and also aid in balancing blood sugar. If you're eating steamed veggies, be sure to generously coat them in coconut oil and good sea salt as the fat soluble vitamins will absorb far more efficiently (3).
5. Make Decadent Chocolate Treats
6. Stimulant Free Appetite Suppressant
Take a tsp. of coconut oil before meals to feel more satiated. This may be because of the way fats are metabolized in the body. Science has revealed that ketones (that are produced when you consume coconut oil) can lead to increased appetite reducing effects. (5, 6, 7)
7. Helps to Balance Hormones
8. More Energy and Boosts Metabolism
The MCT's (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut oil create a sustained energy release for long term energy and also help boost metabolism and speed fat loss (10). Medium chain fatty acids aren't stored as fat in the body, they are utilized immediately by the liver as a source of energy (11).
9. Balances Blood Sugar
Coconut oil releases over the course of many hours in the body, providing a solid energy source to help sustain blood sugar levels. A 2010 issue of the "Indian Journal of Pharmacology" published an animal study which discovered a diet supplemented with coconut oil led to improved glucose tolerance levels, as well as decreasing total cholesterol levels. Researchers said attributed effect to the presence of lauric acid, an MCT, in coconut oil (12). No more roller coaster ride once you've incorporated this healing fat in your day to day life.
10. Boosts Brain Function
Studies show the powerful effects coconut oil has on brain health (13). We can see it is incredibly useful in treating and preventing Alzheimer's as well as just helping the average person to feel sharper and more alert.
11. Treating Cold Sores
The anti viral compounds in coconut oil help to heal cold sores faster and also provide pain relief (14).
12. Soothes Sore Throat
Melt a tsp. of coconut oil in hot lemon water to soothe an itchy irritated throat. This will differ from person to person and most evidence was anecdotal.
13. Treament for Ear Aches and Infection
14. Treatment for Candida Overgrowth
Candida Albicans is a yeast and a parasite which steals vital energy from the body. The lauric acid in coconut oil helps kill off candida. (16)
15. Increase Immune Health
Roughly half the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a substance that converts into monolaurin, a monoglyceride which can annihilate lipid coated viruses (17), gram-negative bacteria and protozoa. Making it an effective treatment for ailments such as herpes virus, giardia lamblia, HIV and measles just to name a few.
16. Coconut Oil for Better Digestion
Taking coconut oil with a meal can help digestion as it lubricates the digestive tract allowing digested food to pass through much easier.
17. Fights Parasites
Lauric acid in coconut oil is anti parasitic, anti fungal, anti viral and anti bacterial, it helps create an inhospitable environment for those nasty parasites (18).
18. Effectively Heals Burns
You can use coconut oil to heal burns faster and provide instant soothing relief (19).
19. Treating Ulcers
Coconut oil helps to rebuild the gut walls and provides a mucilaginous effect to aid in easily digesting and passing food (20).
20. Getting Rid of Lice When Combine With Anise Seed Extract
One study showed that combined these are more effecting than the common lice treatment permethrin (21).
Coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation in animal testing (22). Researchers also found that coconut oil has moderate analgesic activity and can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
22. Reduces Fever
The same study as mentioned above also showed coconut oil to be effective in reducing fever. Ayurveda also deemed coconut oil to be a cooling oil long before modern medicine entered the scene.
23. Boosts Testosterone and Reduces Swollen Prostate in Animal Studies
One of the best foods for healthy hormones, not only is coconut oil useful in regulating the thyroid and adrenal glands but it's also been found to lessen the incidence of prostate cancer (23).
24. Furniture Polish
Yes you can actually use coconut oil to shine your wood furniture, it's likely less expensive and far less toxic than the commercial wood polish.
25. Leather Polish
Shine you shoes with a dollop of coconut oil on a dry rag for an all natural, petroleum alternative.
26. Use on Your Pets to Keep Fleas Away
Just as coconut works for humans to kill lice, it also works on animals to get rid of pesky critters.
27. Make Your Own Baby Wipes
Either use a half of a paper towel roll or reusable fabric and soak them in a mixture of 1 C hot water, 1 TBS coconut oil and 1 TBS Castile soap. This is a great baby wipe solution that it both a disinfectant and has a soothing, moisturizing effect.
28. Natural Diaper Rash Treatment
Even if you're using amazing homemade baby wipes, the little ones can still get diaper rash, coconut oil is soothing and effective at relieving discomfort for your little one.
29. Massage Oil
Try warming the coconut oil in a double boiler with your favorite essential oils, this makes for a luscious spa like massage experience.
Apply coconut oil to warts daily and cover with a band aid. As mentioned above, the coconut oil is exceptional at infiltrating fungal infections and over the course of a month the warts should disappear.
31. Body Scrub
Combine equal parts sugar and coconut oil, you can add your favorite essential oils and use this as a body scrub while in the shower.
You can use coconut oil on your entire body as a moisturizer, it's great for nourishing the skin and preventing acne. Many people use it to prevent wrinkles as a facial moisturizer.
33. SPF Coconut Oil Blocks UV Rays by 30%
So lather up before heading to the beach, you'll still be able to absorb beneficial vitamin D from the sun, which isn't the case with regular sunblock (24).
Coconut oil is a wonderful alternative to petroleum based lubes. Though it should be noted that if you're using latex condoms, coconut oil has the potential to weaken the latex, so instead opt for polyurethane.
35. Athletes Foot
Apply coconut oil to feet daily after a shower, for an extra anti-fungal effect mix in a few drops of tea tree essential oils (25).
36. Conditioning Hair Treatment
As a pre-shampoo hair treatment, coat hair in coconut oil the night before a morning shower (make sure to wear a shower cap to bed) concentrate the oil on the ends for super silky locks.
37. Lip Balm
Next time you run out of chap stick, try melting 1 1/2 Tbs of coconut oil with your favorite essential oils and 1 tsp of beeswax. Fill the chap stick tube with the melted oil and allow it to come to room temperature before using.
Applying coconut oil directly to hemorrhoids helps alleviate swelling and soothes pain.
Try a scalp treatment with coconut and rosemary essential oil to treat dandruff, simply massage the combined oils into the scalp and allow it to seep in overnight. Wash hair as usual in the morning and repeat until the problem subsides (26).
Amazing that something so simple could be so effective in calming the inflammation associated with shaving.
41. Mosquito Bites
Apply directly to any bug bite to help soothe the itch and relieve swelling.
42. Makeup Remover
Coconut oil is an impressive eye makeup remover, it dissolves gucky mascara in an instant leaving your skin moisturized and clean.
43. Sunburn Relief
Ayurveda an ancient Indian medicine system, states coconut oil to be a cooling oil, it can provide great relief to burning itchy skin. Another great sunburn remedy is apple cider vinegar mixed with water, sprayed on the skin and allowed to dry. Apply coconut oil after ACV for even greater relief.
Both internally and externally, coconut oil is excellent for treating acne. From the inside it helps to balance hormones associated with causing acne. Externally you can apply it to pimples for the anti bacterial effects as well as reducing swelling and redness.
45. Shaving cream
If you want to completely avoid razor burn try using coconut oil instead of shaving cream.
46. Stretch marks
Treat stretch marks and scars with coconut oil when the pores are open after a bath or shower. You can also apply coconut oil to your belly to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
47. Perineal Massage During Pregnancy
Starting about a month before giving birth, massage the perineum with coconut oil to prevent tearing or necessity of episiotomy .
48. Eyelash Treatment For Super Lush Lashes
Apply a little coconut oil to your lashes before bed, this is especially useful if you wear eye makeup as it can cause hair loss and breakage over time.
49. Homemade Coconut Oil Soap
You can easily make your very own soap with just 3 ingredients and a crockpot check out this excellent photo tutorial for full instructions over here.
50. Cuticle Softener
Massage coconut oil into dry, hang nail prone cuticles, your nails will thank you.
51. Varicose Veins
Apply coconut oil daily to varicose veins and massage in really well, anecdotal reports show this to be an excellent method for dealing with varicose veins naturally.
52. Season Your Cast Iron
Use coconut oil to season your cast irons pans, once you've washed and dried them add a touch of coconut oil to keep them non-stick and rust free.
53. Start a Fire
Forget about bringing that jug of gasoline on your camping trip. Instead try soaking a few cotton balls in coconut oil and using them as a fire starter.
54. Save Money and Buy in Bulk
It takes a very long time for coconut oil to go rancid and now that you know how awesome it is you're going to want to use it a lot!
Medium Chain Triglycerides
We should also note that countries with an abundant consumption of coconut are amongst some of the healthiest people on the planet today. It's no accident that Kitivan people of Papua New Guinea consume ample amounts of coconut yet have zero incidence of modern ailments we see today (27).
Our current state of health in North America is ravaged with anxiety over fat, with obesity becoming an epidemic and heart disease close behind, people are looking for something to blame.
The ironic thing is fat does not make you fat. MCT's (Medium Chain Triglycerides) in coconut oil have been shown to increase energy expenditure and metabolism by up to 5% in a twenty-four hour period.
A study done on 6 healthy men given medium chain triglycerides vs. long chain triglycerides found that the men consuming MCT's ate almost 300 calories less per day than the other group (28).
MCT's are also being used as a therapeutic treatment for reducing seizures associated with epilepsy. Researchers have found a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates helps to greatly reduce seizures (29).
Like I mentioned above, coconut oil is extremely useful for people with Alzheimer's disease, specifically the MCT's which the liver breaks down into ketone bodies that the brain uses as fuel. One study showed immediate improvement with mild forms of Alzheimers after consumption of MCT's (30).
Athletes take concentrated MCT oil for increased stamina during workouts and to ensure they stay lean.
The various uses of coconut oil, medicinal and otherwise are so pervasive that everyone should have this super food in their cupboards. If you want to see even more benefits check these out as well Make sure to purchase pure, extra-virgin organic coconut oil to reap the full benefits. Any other uses you can think of? What's your favorite way to include coconut oil in your life?