Quantcast
Food

31 Incredible Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is incredibly popular and for good reason. It offers many health benefits, has a delicate taste and is widely available. It's also an extremely versatile oil with a number of uses you may not be aware of.

Coconut oil is incredibly popular and for good reason. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Here are 31 clever uses for coconut oil.

1. Protection From Sun

Coconut oil may protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause wrinkling, brown spots and raise your risk of skin cancer.

In fact, one study found that it blocks about 20 percent of the sun's UV rays (1).

However, keep in mind that it doesn't provide the same amount of protection as conventional sunscreen, which blocks about 90 percent of UV rays.

Another study estimated that coconut oil has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 7, which is still lower than the minimum recommended in some countries (2).

2. Increase Your Metabolism

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are fatty acids that are quickly absorbed and can increase the amount of calories you burn (3).

Controlled studies have shown that MCTs can significantly boost your metabolic rate, at least temporarily (4, 5).

One study found that, on average, 15–30 grams of MCTs increased calorie expenditure by around 120 calories over a 24-hour period (6).

3. Cook Safely at High Temperatures

Coconut oil has a very high saturated fat content. In fact, about 87 percent of its fat is saturated (7).

This feature makes it one of the best fats for high-heat cooking, including frying.

Saturated fats retain their structure when heated to high temperatures, unlike the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils.

Oils such as corn and safflower are converted into toxic compounds when heated. These may have harmful effects on health (8).

There is no reason to fear the saturated fats in coconut oil. New studies show that they have no link to heart disease risk.

4. Improve Your Dental Health

Coconut oil can be a powerful weapon against bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria in the mouth that causes dental plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.

In one study, swishing with coconut oil for 10 minutes (known as oil pulling) reduced these bacteria as effectively as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash (9).

In another study, swishing daily with coconut oil significantly reduced inflammation and plaque in teenagers with gingivitis (inflamed gums) (10).

5. Relieve Skin Irritation and Eczema

Research shows that coconut oil improves dermatitis and other skin disorders at least as well as mineral oil and other conventional moisturizers (11, 12, 13).

In a study of children with eczema, 47 percent of those treated with coconut oil had major improvements (13).

6. Improve Brain Function

The MCTs in coconut oil are broken down by the liver and turned into ketones, which can act as an alternative energy source for the brain (14).

Several studies have found MCTs to have impressive benefits for brain disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer's (15, 16, 17).

Some researchers recommend using coconut oil as a source of MCTs to increase the production of ketones (14).

7. Make Healthy Mayonnaise

Commercial mayonnaise often contains soybean oil, added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

However, it's easy to make your own mayo with much healthier ingredients, including coconut oil or olive oil.

Recipe number two on this list uses coconut oil as one of the fats for a healthy homemade mayonnaise.

8. Moisturize Your Skin

Coconut oil makes a wonderful moisturizer for your legs, arms and elbows.

You can use it on your face as well, although this isn't recommended for those with very oily skin.

It can also help repair cracked heels. Simply apply a thin coat to your heels at bedtime, put on socks and continue on a nightly basis until your heels are smooth.

9. Fight Infections

Virgin coconut oil has strong antibacterial properties that can help treat infections.

One study found that it helped stop the growth of the intestinal bacteria Clostridium difficile, commonly known as “C. diff," which causes severe diarrhea (18).

It also appears to fight several other bacteria and yeasts—an effect generally attributed to lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil (19).

10. Increase Your HDL Cholesterol

Coconut oil has been shown to raise cholesterol levels in some people.

However, its strongest and most consistent effect is an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is known as the “good" cholesterol (20, 21, 22).

One study of women with abdominal obesity found that HDL increased in a group consuming coconut oil (22).

In contrast, women consuming soybean oil had a decrease in HDL cholesterol (22).

11. Provide Relief from Insect Bites and Stings

Coconut oil's anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve the pain or itch caused by insect bites or stings. It may also reduce swelling and decrease risk of infection.

To try this, gently rub a small amount onto the bite and cover with a bandage.

12. Make Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate

Homemade dark chocolate is a delicious way to get coconut oil's health benefits.

Just remember to store it in the refrigerator or freezer, since coconut oil melts at 76 F (24 C).

Here's a delicious recipe for sugar-free dark chocolate candy bars made with coconut oil.

13. Reduce Belly Fat

Coconut oil may help reduce belly fat, also known as visceral fat, which is linked to increased health risks such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (21, 22, 23).

In one study, obese men lost 1 inch (2.54 cm) from their waist fat by adding 2 tablespoons (1 oz or 30 ml) of coconut oil to their diet (21).

Another study looked at women on calorie-restricted diets. Those who took 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day had a decrease in waist size, while the soybean oil group actually had a slight increase (22).

14. Protect Your Hair from Damage

Coconut oil can help keep your hair healthy.

One study compared the effects of coconut oil, mineral oil and sunflower oil on hair.

Only coconut oil significantly reduced protein loss from hair when applied before or after shampooing. This result occurred with damaged as well as healthy hair.

The researchers concluded that the unique structure of lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil, can penetrate the hair shaft in a way that most other fats can't (24).

15. Massage Your Newborn

Massaging newborns with oil has been shown to promote normal weight gain and growth.

One study suggests that coconut oil may be the best type of oil to use for this purpose.

Premature babies who were massaged with coconut oil for 30 days gained significantly more weight than those massaged with mineral oil for the same time period (25).

Read page 1

16. Decrease Hunger and Food Intake

The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil may help reduce hunger, leading to a spontaneous decrease in calorie intake (3, 26, 27).

In a small study, men who followed a high-MCT diet took in fewer calories and lost more weight than men who ate diets with low or medium MCT content (27).

17. Improve Wound Healing

One study found that rats whose wounds were treated with coconut oil had a reduction in inflammatory markers and increased production of collagen, a major component of skin. As a result, their wounds healed much faster (28).

To speed healing of minor cuts or scrapes, apply a little bit of coconut oil directly to the wound and cover it with a bandage.

18. Boost Bone Health

Animal research suggests that the the antioxidants in virgin coconut oil may protect bone health by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage bone cells (29, 30).

A 6-week study of rats showed that the group receiving 8 percent of their calories from coconut oil had significantly more bone volume and improved bone structure (30).

19. Make a Nontoxic Insect Repellent

Some essential oils may be a natural way to keep bugs away and avoiding bites and stings.

However, rather than applying these oils directly to your skin, they need to be combined with a carrier oil.

In one study, combining Thai essential oils with coconut oil provided more than 98 percent protection from the bites of certain mosquitoes (31).

20. Combat Candida

Candida albicans is the fungus responsible for yeast infections, which commonly occur in warm, moist areas of the body such as the mouth or vagina.

Test-tube studies suggest that coconut oil may help fight candida infections (32, 33).

Researchers found coconut oil to be as effective as fluconazole, the antifungal medication typically prescribed for candida infections (33).

21. Remove Stains

Coconut oil can be used to get rid of stains, including spills on carpets and furniture.

Combine one part coconut oil with one part baking soda and mix into a paste. Apply to the stain, wait 5 minutes and wipe away.

22. Reduce Inflammation

Several animal studies show that eating coconut oil provides strong anti-inflammatory effects (34, 35, 36).

Human studies suggest eating coconut oil may reduce markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, especially when compared to highly unsaturated oils (37, 38).

23. Natural Deodorant

Sweat itself has no smell. However, the bacteria living on your skin can produce undesirable odors.

Coconut oil's strong antibacterial properties make it a great natural deodorant that contains no chemicals.

Here is an easy recipe for an effective natural deodorant made with coconut oil and other natural ingredients.

24. Quick Energy Source

Coconut oil contains fats called medium-chain triglycerides, which are digested differently than the long-chain triglycerides found in most foods.

These fats go directly from the gut to the liver, where they can be used as a quick source of energy that won't raise blood sugar levels (3).

25. Heal Ragged Cuticles

Coconut oil can be used to improve your cuticles, including hangnails.

Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil to your cuticles and massage for a few moments. Do this several times a week for the best results.

26. Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis is characterized by pain and immobility of the joints due to inflammation.

Animal research suggests that antioxidants called polyphenols found in coconut oil may be able to relieve some symptoms of arthritis.

A study of arthritic rats found that treatment with polyphenols from coconut oil reduced swelling and several inflammatory markers (39).

27. Make Your Wood Furniture Shine

Coconut oil may help keep your furniture looking shiny and well-cared-for.

In addition to bringing out the beauty in natural wood, it seems to act as a dust repellent. It also has a pleasant, delicate aroma, unlike many commercial furniture polishes that contain strong fragrances.

28. Remove Eye Makeup

Coconut oil is a gentle and effective eye makeup remover. Apply with a cotton pad and wipe gently until all traces of makeup are gone.

29. Improve Liver Health

Animal research has found that the saturated fats in coconut oil can help protect the liver from damage due to alcohol or toxin exposure (40, 41).

In one study, mice treated with coconut oil after exposure to a toxic compound had a decrease in inflammatory liver markers and increased activity of beneficial liver enzymes (41).

30. Soothe Chapped Lips

Coconut oil makes an ideal natural lip balm.

It glides on smoothly, leaves your lips moist for hours and even provides some protection from the sun.

Here's an easy recipe for making your own lip balm with coconut oil.

31. Make Homemade Salad Dressing

Commercial salad dressings are often loaded with sugar and preservatives.

Here's a great recipe for a coconut oil salad dressing that tastes wonderful and is made with nourishing ingredients.

Take Home Message

Coconut oil has several health benefits, but it also has many other clever and practical uses that you may not have considered before. Make sure to always have plenty of coconut oil on hand. You never know when you might need it.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Protein Shakes Can Help You Lose Weight and Boost Your Metabolism

5 Superfoods You're Probably Not Eating, But Should Be

The Science Behind the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

14 Reasons Why You Should Eat Kiwi

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular

New Mexico Tribes Step Up to Protect Land Before Fossil Fuels Vote

Native American tribes are voicing concerns and demanding input on regulations on fossil fuel development in a New Mexico county, in the latest wave of tribal voices growing louder on oil and gas development across the country.

Sandoval County, home to 12 Native tribes, will hold a final vote in January on a draft ordinance to regulate oil and gas development in the county. In packed public meetings over the proposed ordinance last week, tribal leaders called out the lack of tribal input in the draft ordinance and raised concerns over the ordinance's lack of protections for water, air and land resources.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

How to Talk to Your Relatives About Climate Change: A Guide for the Holidays

By Abigail Dillen

Most people who know me are too polite to question climate change when I'm around, but there are relatives and old family friends who hint at the great divide between their worldviews and mine. I think they sincerely believe that I would crush the economy forever if I had my way. On the other end of the spectrum are friends and family who are alarmed by climate and genuinely want to know what we and our elected officials can do about it. But no matter who's in the mix, it's hard to bring my work home for the holidays. Most of the time it feels easier to leave our existential crisis unmentioned.

Keep reading... Show less
Print Your City! The New Raw

3D Printing Turns Plastic Trash Into Public Furniture

Dutch designers are giving Amsterdam's plastic trash a second life by creating 3D-printed benches out of discarded plastic bags.

The "XXX" plastic bench, a collaboration between The New Raw and Aectual, made its debut in late October in the Dutch capital.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Chocolate Makers Agree to Stop Cutting Down Forests in West Africa for Cocoa

By Mike Gaworecki

At COP23, the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany that wrapped up last week, top cocoa-producing countries in West Africa announced new commitments to end the massive deforestation for cocoa that is occurring within their borders.

Ivory Coast and Ghana are the number one and number two cocoa-producing nations on Earth, respectively. Together, they produce about two-thirds of the world's cocoa, but that production has been tied to high rates of deforestation as well as child labor and other human rights abuses.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food

Why Thanksgiving Is the Perfect Time to Give Up Meat

By Peter Kalmus

Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It's a time out from the frenetic pace of life, a time for families to slow down and gather in the kitchen—to just be. It doesn't lend itself to the garish onslaught of commercialization. (You can sense the capitalist frustration and over-compensation in that oddest of add-ons, Black Friday). And for me, Thanksgiving was the perfect time to finally give up meat.

My journey to vegetarianism has been one of gradual awareness. In college, while living off campus, I discovered the wonders of cooking Indian food. Because the one cookbook I owned was from the Vaishnava tradition, my Indian cookery was strictly vegetarian. At a formative period of my life, I fell in love with the flavors of India. Those dishes never wanted for meat.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Red wolf in Randolph, North Carolina. Valerie / Flickr

Senate Republicans Push for Extinction of North Carolina's Red Wolf

Tucked away in the Senate report accompanying Monday's funding bill for the Department of the Interior is a directive to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct."

"Senate Republicans are trying to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the struggling red wolf recovery program," said Perrin de Jong, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It is morally reprehensible for Senator Murkowski and her committee to push for the extinction of North Carolina's most treasured wild predator. Instead of giving up on the red wolf, Congress should fund recovery efforts, something lawmakers have cynically blocked time and time again."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Pexels

Connecting With Nature Improves Minds and Moods

By Marlene Cimons

Twentieth Century German social psychologist Erich Fromm first advanced the notion that humans hold an inborn connection to nature. Later, it was popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life." In the ensuing years, support for the positive effects of nature has gained considerable traction, grounded in a growing body of research.

In recent weeks, at least four new studies have emerged adding more validity to what science repeatedly has revealed: Being around nature is good for us. The latest research shows that interacting with nature makes the brain stronger and soothes the psyche.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Trump administration has proposed increased entry fees at 17 national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park / Flickr

You Now Have More Time to Protest National Park Fee Hikes

Following widespread outrage, the National Parks Service (NPS) has extended the comment period for the public to weigh in on the proposed rate hikes at 17 of the most popular national parks across the country.

The comment period now closes Dec. 22, 2017. The original deadline had been set for Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!