It’s said to help with weight loss, hair health, heart health and even brain health . . . could this possible be THE wonder food of our lifetime?! Well, you know the saying that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Well, let me clear up some things for you about the ever popular coconut oil.
For starters, there are two main ways we use coconut oil, internally and externally. It can be consumed/eaten and it can be applied to the body. Coconut oil is made by actually pressing or extracting the liquid out of the white part of the coconut referred to as the “meat.” Most of the calories in coconut oil come from saturated fat (84%) while only 14% for olive oil and 63% for real butter. This helps you understand why at room temperature coconut oil hardens quickly into a solid while olive oil never does and butter at room temp looks a bit soft.
People consume coconut oil in many ways such as a high heat cooking oil, a substitute for butter or oil in recipes, to coat meat or poultry items before seasoning, in bullet-proof coffee, and in smoothies . . . a personal favorite! People also use coconut oil externally in many ways such as: for hair health, skin care, and for oral hygiene (but not necessarily swallowed). While there are studies and claims that support the many benefits of coconut oil, there are others that are inconclusive or require more research. And some of what is out there may be a bit far-fetched or hyped up for marketing purposes.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat (medium-chain triglycerides or MCT). To be clear, not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut oil is considered to be a more healthy fat source when consumed in moderation, and is said to be absorbed differently by your body compared to longer-chain fats found in vegetable oils, dairy products and fatty meats.
When it comes to consuming coconut oil, be aware that it does raise both your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This can lead one down a rabbit hole of opinions on heart health, brain health and overall organ health. However all things considered, it’s really about quantity and frequency. So even though our bodies need healthy saturated fats, you don’t want to overdo them. Be consistent with your diet and moderate the intake of all food items, coconut oil included.
As far as external uses, coconut oil has shown to help with some skin conditions and has been found to prevent wrinkles and sagging while also helping with dryness and flaky skin. When it comes to hair care, coconut oil has been shown to help with faster, longer and thicker hair growth while reducing protein loss and nourishing the hair with its many vitamins and essential fatty acids. There are also claims that it helps with dental health!
Bottom line, coconut oil does appear to have many beneficial uses and applications and I do personally recommend it based on my experience but be smart and use it sparingly. Anything healthy can be overused resulting in unhealthy and unwanted side effects.