I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
I’m finally switching to coconut oil! No more canola oil, no more vegetable oils, just coconut oil! Why? Because coconut oil is said to be the healthiest oil in the world!
Sadly it’s rarely used due to a misconception of its saturated fat content. However, it is now known that it’s actually good for you! So read on and then join me in switching to coconut oil!
About Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which is why it was believed to be unhealthy. However, it is now known that there is a difference in fat molecules.
All fats and oils are composed of fatty acids. There are two ways to classify fatty acids. The first is one that we are all quite familiar with, that is classification based on saturation. This would be saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
The second system is based on molecular length of the carbon chain that is within each fatty acid. These would be short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) This is the difference that makes coconut oil healthy.
Coconut oil is composed of mainly medium-chain fatty acids. (MCFA)
Most of the other fats and oils that we use are composed of long-chain fatty acids. (LCFA)
The difference being that MCFA do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and actual help protect against heart disease. MCFA gets turned into energy and benefits the body. LCFA stays a fat and causes problems.
Why Coconut Oil is the Healthiest Oil in the World:
Hair Care – Applied topically coconut oil is good for dandruff, lice, conditioning, and provides proteins for nourishing damaged hair.
Skin Care – Great moisturizer for all skin types. Delays wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. It is also great for psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. Due to its antioxidant properties, it helps prevent premature aging, skin cancer and other skin blemishes.
Heart Disease – Many people believe that since coconut oil is so high in saturated fats, it is bad for the heart. However the opposite is true – it’s actually good for the heart. This is because it is made of MCFA, unlike many other vegetable oils.
This means that coconut oil does not increase LDL levels unlike some other oils. It contains about 50% lauric acid which helps prevent things like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Weight loss – Sounds odd for something like oil, right? Along with having fewer calories then most oils and fats, it also has MCFA. As stated above, MCFA is turned into energy much like a carbohydrate, therefore helping burn body fat.
MCFA also increases metabolism, which of course also helps shed unwanted pounds. It also helps in keeping the thyroid and enzymes systems healthy.
Digestion – When used in cooking, coconut oil helps improve the digestive system which then prevents various stomach and digestion problems including IBS. It also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, and minerals.
Immunity – Coconut oil is great for the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin by the body which helps destroy lipid coated viruses such as herpes, influenza, and even HIV.
Infections – Since coconut oil has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, it is great against infections. It can kill viruses that cause measles, influenza, SARS, herpes, hepatitis, and so on.
It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, urinary tract infections, Pneumonia, and throat infections. Coconut oil is also good for things like ringworm, athlete’s foot, diaper rash, and thrush. Apply on infections to form a chemical layer to protect against infection. Time to put coconut oil in the medicine cabinet!
Liver – Helps prevent liver diseases since it’s easily converted into energy when it reaches the liver, which then reduces the workload on the liver and prevents accumulation of fat.
Kidney – Helps prevent kidney and gall bladder diseases. Also helps dissolve kidney stones.
Diabetes – Helps control blood sugar and improves secretion of insulin. Also helps in utilization of blood glucose thereby preventing and treating diabetes.
Bones – Coconut oil helps absorb minerals, including calcium and magnesium, which are needed for bones. Good for women who are prone to osteoporosis.
Dental – Calcium is also important for teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay so you can even use it as toothpaste!
HIV and Cancer – It is believed that coconut oil helps reduce viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients.
Short story on coconut oil – Contains lesser calories then other oils, fat content is easily converted to energy and it doesn’t lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Boosts energy and endurance. Doesn’t form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperatures like other vegetable oils.
Which Coconut Oil to Use?
There are a few different types of coconut oil: unrefined, refined, virgin, extra virgin, organic, expeller pressed, cold-pressed. What does it all mean?
Unrefined – The good stuff, still has it’s nutrients, still smells and tastes slightly of coconut. Smoking point of 350 degrees.
Refined – Deodorized and bleached. Smoking point of 450 degrees (it’s one advantage) Contain chemicals that are used in the refining process. (Note: Refined can also mean expeller pressed which is a good option so make sure you know how the coconut oil was refined)
Virgin – You definitely want virgin coconut oil. This means that it hasn’t been processed with all the yucky chemicals.
Extra Virgin – This is a bit of a myth, as there is no difference between virgin and extra virgin. So if one is cheaper then the other then by all means by the cheaper. They key is you want VIRGIN coconut oil, it doesn’t matter if it’s virgin or extra virgin.
Organic – Means it’s free of GMO’s, pesticides, and hexane.
Expeller Pressed – Means that it was refined the old fashion way with machines creating pressure on the coconut whereas other ways would use chemicals. Expeller pressed coconut oil will remove the flavor from the oil (good for someone who does not want the flavor or the chemicals) however, it does remove some of the nutrients.
Cold-pressed – Is a form of expeller pressing but at a lower temperature. The lower temperature means that the flavor is kept and there are more nutrients. Cold-pressed is the way to go, if you don’t mind the flavor.
I know, that’s a lot to take in… the main thing is you want no chemicals so either expeller or cold-pressed would do.
How am I using it? I use it for everything! In fact, I have a post just listing the many ways to use coconut oil! It’s a pretty versatile oil!
It is solid at room temperature so it can easily replace butter or shortening. However, it also melts at only 76 degrees so it can easily be used to replace oil in both baking and cooking recipes.
I also use it as a moisturizer for my skin. It’s even in my deodorant! Check out all the other uses for coconut oil here. I use Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the record but as I said any coconut oil will do, as long as it’s unrefined and virgin.