Coconut Oil, I love thee.

secret ingredient

Yesterday I teased that I would be writing a post about my new-found love: coconut oil! Specifically, unrefined virgin coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a wonderful alternative for so many things and has been used medicinally in other countries for centuries. I’ll get to the uses later. But first, a little nutrition lesson…

With heart disease rampant in the U.S., you’ve probably been told to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat. Coconut oil being one of them. In the past, studies have shown that coconut oil increases your risk for heart disease. The problem with those studies? They all used partially or fully hydrogenated coconut oil.

Hmmm. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what we don’t want to consume. Am I right?

Fast forward to more current studies (with a few older ones mixed in) and, while even unrefined virgin coconut oil still has a high saturated fat content, the argument that it increases your risk for heart disease almost disappears. If you look at places such as the Philippines, Thailand, or islands in the Pacific, they all have the lowest rates of heart disease related incidences (i.e. heart attack, stroke) with the highest consumption of coconut and coconut oil. In Sri Lanka, coconut oil was the primary source of fat for thousands of years, and in 1978 only one out of 100,000 deaths were attributed to heart disease. Since then, the consumption of coconut oil has declined, replacing it with polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn….

Heart disease rates have increased significantly.

Now, I’m not so naive as to think that’s the only indicator of heart disease, but thought the argument was interesting.

So why is coconut oil different from other oils? It’s in the fat molecule. Also called fatty acids.

Unlike other oils high in saturated fat, coconut oil possesses medium-chain fatty acids (most contain long-chain). For reasons related to how our bodies metabolize oil, that is why it doesn’t contribute to heart disease. Would you want to eat a ton of it every day? Like any oil, probably not. But I wouldn’t avoid it like the plague.

OK. Onto the good stuff!

So, what can I use coconut oil for??

Not only is virgin coconut oil excellent in baking (like in my biscotti recipe), but it’s also great in indian inspired recipes, when sautéing greens, and even in oatmeal!

I wanted to explore other uses for coconut oil, so as part of my plight to live a more minimal, simple life, I started to examine products I use every day. Starting with my face! A couple of months ago I tossed my expensive face wash for baking soda and loved it. So I decided to replace my very expensive night-time moisturizer cream with unrefined virgin coconut oil, and guess what? It’s AMAZING. I also use it as an eye make-up remover now.

Not only am I saving loads of money, but I also know exactly what I’m putting on my skin. No more weird ingredients I can’t say!

Not to mention the unintended, wonderful effect of thinking I’m at the beach every day. Talk about calming.

Here are 10 other uses for coconut oil you may not have heard of:

  1. Leave in hair conditioner
  2. Deodorant
  3. Chap stick (it has a natural SPF of 4!)
  4. Diaper rash
  5. Stretch mark cream
  6. Body moisturizer
  7. Bug bites (like mosquito)
  8. Goo Gone alternative (mix equal parts with baking soda)
  9. Insect repellent
  10. Stabilizing blood sugar for diabetics

What do you use coconut oil for??

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