It was not so long ago that the health world was warning people against oil and condemning saturated fats. However, in recent years coconut oil has been in the spotlight for all the right reasons, being branded as a “good” fat. All kinds of recipes have exploded onto the scene, from cakes to curries, including the oil as an ingredient.
Coconut oil fats contain metabolism-boosting medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and lauric acid. Nearly 50% of the fat in coconut oil is in fact lauric acid, a so-called miracle compound. Your body converts this lauric acid into monolaurin, which has been proven by studies published by the National Institute of Health to have antimicrobial, antiviral and antiprotozoa properties.
When baking with coconut oil instead of butter or oils, the substitution ratio is simply 1:1, so for every cup of butter, use one cup of coconut oil. The thing that makes cooking with coconut oil great is that it can be heated to high temperatures without oxidation thanks to its unique composition of fatty acids, which are about 90% saturated.
Coconut oil has been proven to have a whole range of health benefits. It has been found to improve heart health, increase metabolism rate, promote lean body mass, manage type 2 diabetes and support the immune system.
Whilst the health benefits of coconut oil are gaining mainstream awareness, this little wonder oil actually has a whole heap of other benefits and uses. Here are 7 amazing uses for coconut oil you never knew.
1. You can use it to make toothpaste
Sounds odd, but you can use this oil (which is solid at room temperature) as a toothpaste, fighting cavities and tooth decay. Studies have shown that coconut oil is a natural antibacterial and antibiotic, which is great for minimizing tooth decay and improving oral health. A simple recipe can be made by mixing together half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of coconut oil. Add 30–40 drops of peppermint oil for that much loved, minty fresh taste. As coconut oil is a solid, you may need to microwave it for a few seconds until it’s pourable for easy mixing. If you keep it in an airtight jar, it will happily last for up to six months without needing refrigeration.
2. Feed it to your four-legged friends
Whilst we all know that chocolate is not a treat for your dog, coconut oil is! Coconut oil is bit of a wonder product for cats and dogs, helping to clear up skin conditions, keeping coats glossy, deodorizing smells and eliminating bad doggy breath.
3. It’s an energy booster
You can add a teaspoon of coconut oil to your smoothies, not only for added flavor and filling but as a great energy boost. Coconut oil is made of medium-chain fats that break down easily, giving a quick boost of energy.
4. Use it as a hair and scalp treatment
Coconut oil is fantastic for your hair. Apply it to dry hair and you’ll transform your locks, treating split ends and deeply nourishing hair, and let’s not forget the delicious, yummy smell! Just rub a small amount in between the palm of your hands and smooth over your hair. Don’t just put it on your palms but rub it all over the backs of your hands too, that way you can apply the coconut oil in a 360 degree manner and not overload hair with the oil.
5. It can be used as a moisturizer
Coconut oil isn’t just good for your insides, it’s great for your skin too. Did you know you can use coconut oil to help soothe chapped skin and lips and moisturize dry patches, such as feet, hands and elbows? You can even use it post-shave for silky, smooth skin.
6. Use it as an eye makeup remover
Coconut oil makes an excellent makeup remover for the eyes. Simply pop a little bit of coconut oil onto a cotton pad, and gently wipe the eye area. Make sure you rinse it off after as it’s quite oily. Whilst removing your eye makeup, you’ll be nourishing the delicate skin around the eyes. It can also be used on sensitive eyes and it also removes waterproof makeup!
7. It acts as an insect repellent
One of the most widely used ingredients in insect repellent is DEET and although it is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it isn’t great for your skin, can cause eye irritation, and provoke rashes and sores on the skin. However, I would never advise someone to not protect themselves against mosquitoes, especially in countries with malaria or dengue fever. For a natural and homemade insect repellent, mix together 10 parts coconut oil to one part lemongrass or peppermint oil for a skin-friendly, anti-bug spray.
8. Homemade deodorant
Shop-bought deodorants work by blocking your pores with aluminium salts, hence blocking the route for sweat to exit your body. They don’t actually reduce the amount of sweat, but instead make the skin acidic and therefore stop the bacteria on the skin feeding off the sweat. Nice!
For a simple, homemade deodorant recipe combine ¼ cup of melted coconut oil with 1/8 cup of cornstarch, 1/8 cup of arrowroot powder and one teaspoon of baking soda. Pop it into an empty deodorant container or a small mason jar and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Keep the deodorant at room temperature as then the coconut oil will be soft enough to apply on your armpits.
9. Nursing mothers can use it as a nipple cream
Instead of lanolin cream, breastfeeding mothers can use coconut oil to sooth nipple irritation. For a simple cream, melt together two teaspoons of cocoa butter, one teaspoon of olive oil and two teaspoons of the magic ingredient – coconut oil – and mix well. The coconut oil will help promote healthy skin regeneration and act as a moisturizer.
Featured photo credit: Nacu via morguefile.com