Monday, March 23, 2009

Coconut Oil - Good for you inside and out

Based on recommendations from a few of our readers, I just purchased my first jar of Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I had heard that coconut oil was a great moisturizer, but once I began researching a little further, I was literally amazed by the health benefits this oil offers. Since there are tons of great posts on the benefits of coconut oil, I have picked from my favorites and compiled a list of how this amazing (and economical) oil can help you both on the inside and out.

Why should you consume coconut oil?
The benefits of consuming coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti fungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia. As a result of these various health benefits of coconut oil, though its exact mechanism of action was unknown, it has been extensively used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicinal system.

Coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Health and beauty benefits of coconut oil include:

  • Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

  • Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight

  • Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.

  • Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

  • Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

  • Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

  • Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its anti fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

  • Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as they substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

  • Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

  • Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

  • Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

  • Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.

  • HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients.

  • Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged air. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.

  • Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue.

  • Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care.

  • Premature Aging: Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Consider how many beauty products (and containers) you could eliminate by having some coconut oil on hand. Organic virgin coconut oil can be used for all of the following:

  • All-over body moisturizer

  • Hot oil hair treatment, combined with equal parts extra virgin olive oil

  • Cuticle oil

  • Eye make-up remover (even works on waterproof mascara)

  • Body scrub, mixed with brown sugar or sea salt

  • Overnight foot treatment (slather feet & put on some cotton socks)

  • Face mask, mix with a little raw honey (for the antibacterial properties)

  • Deep conditioner for hair (click here for several recipes)

As far as eating coconut oil goes, my container recommends that you consume 3 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. Consider using coconut oil as follows:

  • As cooking oil (it has a high heat tolerance)

  • Like butter on toast or muffin

  • In your smoothie (I think mixing with some tropical fruits sounds yummy)

  • Some people just eat it by the spoonful

Other fun facts about coconut oil:

  • It does not get rancid like other oils and may be kept unrefrigerated for up to a year.

  • It melts at 76 degrees F. I love scooping out a bit and having it melt in my hand when I use as a moisturizer.
More research on coconut oil can be found here.

- Shannan

Sources: Organic Facts, Style 101, Eco Chick


maru said...

Nice post! We've been looking into using coconut oil for our little girl. She suffers with all over eczema and we're hoping that this will help if applied to the skin as well as taken orally. Which brand have you gone for?

Unknown said...

Thanks. I am using the Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I ordered it through I think I got the 54 o.z. jar for around $22. I divided it up so I could use some for cooking and some for skincare/haircare.

Thanks for reading!

Kristen's Raw said...

My favorite brand for coconut oil is by Wilderness Family Naturals ( It's the most amazing, freshest I've had.

To the person above, Maru, you might try hemp oil. This is from Manitoba Harvest's Website:

"My best friend has a baby and when little Marley was five months old she developed eczema all over her body. So my best friend asked me (Dr. Rachel) for a remedy for Marley's skin condition. I told her that eczema was a classic symptom of essential fatty-acid deficiency and drove her to the local Santa Barbara health food store for some hemp seed oil. I suggested my friend take the oil, since she was breast-feeding, probably had a efa deficiency herself, and I never thought Marley would take it. Well we put some in a spoon and held it out and Marley guzzled! it. My friend gave it to her everyday for three weeks and the eczema completely cleared up."

Check out for more info.

Cheers to coconut oil!!! I love using it in my desserts, especially Raw vegan cheesecake :)


Jessica said...

I spent 3 months living in Hawaii after college and I swore by Coconut Oil- it truly works to moisturize your skin and hair and smell the best! Coconut Milk is also a great product- if you heat it up, massage it into your dry hair, and wrap your head in saran wrap for 20 minutes, your hair will stay gorgeous for a week.
- Jessica

Hanlie said...

I love coconut oil! Thanks for posting such a comprehensive list of health benefits!

Annie said...

Great article about coconut oil and it's potential attributes that can help keep our bodies healthy inside and out.

Unknown said...

Been using coconut oil for my skin and hair for years already and it's really great. But I plan to change brands, though. Some of my friends recommend this: Has anyone ever tried if before? Any comments or suggestions?

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.