The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

by lydia on May 22, 2010

If you know me at all, you know about my obsession with coconut oil. There are numerous health benefits you can get from consuming coconut oil.  Coconut oil has been of immense benefit to my health. Today, I’d like to share some of my experience with coconut oil. 

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Last summer I began taking coconut oil every day, starting out by trying to get 2 Tbsp. in per day. I slowly upped that amount to between 3-6 Tbsp. per day, of course forgetting to get enough some days so the higher amount on some days was helpful. Within 2 months, I ceased having horrible pains during my monthly ovulation (otherwise known as mittelschmerz), as well as significantly reduced symptoms of PMS. I also began to sleep better and lost 6 lbs without changing much else. Additionally, I found I had much more energy and felt more even through the day, without having those afternoon lulls. I ended up running out of coconut oil once and didn’t get around to picking up some more for another month or so, and some of my symptoms unfortunately returned. As soon as I went back on the coconut oil, I felt great again. That’s simply my own personal experience with it, there happens to be much in the way of science to explain why coconut oil is so beneficial as well.

The main resource for me in my discovery of coconut oils benefits was the book,  ‘Eat Fat, Lose Fat’ by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. One of the key components they recommend in the diet they promote is healthy fats and one of them is coconut oil taken much like a supplement. Here is a brief  list of facts on coconut oil straight from the book;

  • The body can use coconut oil for energy more rapidly and efficiently than any other fat source. Special fats in coconut (called medium-chain fatty acids, MCFA’s) are not normally stored in your body as fat. Instead, they’re quickly converted to energy, making coconut ideal for weight loss.
  • Small amounts of the MCFA’s in coconut oil are used in the complex processes that enable cells to communicate with each other.
  • Coconut improves thyroid function in people with hypothyroid disease.
  • People in countries where coconut is an important part of the diet have lower rates of heart disease and cancer than Americans. For example, a 1996 report by the National Cancer Institute lists Thailand (with the highest coconut consumption of any country in the world) as having the lowest cancer rates for both men and women out of the 50 countries studied. (No other coconut-eating countries were included in the survey.) Inhabitants of the Philippines have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world, according to a study published in the Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine, 1992.
  • Coconut oil is currently used in infant formulas and hospital invalid foods because it confers special health benefits. It’s also used in sports drinks to help athletes produce lean body mass.
  • The fats in coconut help fight infections of all kinds.
  • Some dieters have even reported that coconut oil has helped them get rid of cellulite!
Those are some pretty compelling reasons to consume coconut! I have also gleaned quite a bit from another coconut advocate, Bruce Fife, namely  in his book, ‘The Coconut Oil Miracle‘. I’d highly recommend checking out any of his books on coconut if you are seriously interested in incorporating coconut into your daily diet. On his site he states that modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.

  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.

  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.

  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.

  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.

  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.

  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.

  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.

  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.

  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.

  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.

  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.

  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.

  • Helps relieve symptoms
    associated with gallbladder disease.

  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.

  • Improves digestion and bowel function.

  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.

  • Reduces inflammation.

  • Supports tissue healing and repair.

  • Supports and aids immune system function.

  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.

  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.

  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.

  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.

  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.

  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.

  • Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do.

  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.

  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).

  • Reduces epileptic seizures.

  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.

  • Dissolves kidney stones.

  • Helps prevent liver disease.

  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.

  • Supports thyroid function.

  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.

  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.

  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.

  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.

  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.

  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.

  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.

  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.

  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.

  • Provides protection form damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation form the sun.

  • Helps control dandruff.

  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.

  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.

  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.


    (source) and;

    An awesome link for an article by Bruce Fife.

Finally I’d like to discuss this question that comes up a lot when I am sharing the glories of consuming coconut oil; how do you get that much coconut oil in your diet per day? Hopefully, this list of ideas will be of inspiration to you.

  • Eat it off the spoon when it’s not solid nor liquid, in just a tiny dip of raw honey. Mmmmm, goes down easy! Great to keep your blood sugar stable through the night, eat it right before bed if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night.
  • Drink it in some hot tea, or in smoothies.
  • Use it as a coating for coconut macaroons, just dip macaroons in melted oil and place in freezer to quickly firm up. (it could be plain oil, or have flavorings added.)
  • Put some in some nut balls.
  • Use some in your coffee.
  • Try some in hot chocolate (ooh can’t wait ’til winter again).
  • Try it in certain stir fries when the flavor of coconut is desirable. Use it in curries, or in coconut soups, namely my most favorite of all, Tom Kai Gai.
  • Make some chocolate bark, melt chocolate and coconut oil, maybe equal parts, but 2 to 1 chocolate to coconut oil would be more tolerable for most, pour over shredded coconut, nuts, and/or dried fruit and let harden.
  • Add some to coconut ice cream, I have a wonderful chocolate coconut ice cream recipe that uses a third cup of coconut oil and it makes about 3 good sized servings.
  • Mix it with almond butter and spread on your morning toast.
  • Coconut oil candies would be good if you don’t mind having the sugar, there are several recipes in ‘Eat Fat, Lose Fat‘. I am also working on using it as an icing alternative for certain things, like cookies over the holidays and so forth. Instead of chocolate covered strawberries, why not coconut oil dipped strawberries with just a touch of honey in the melted oil before dipping. (I think I will be trying that one soon!)
  • Substitute it for vegetable oils in recipes, or blend it with other more liquid oils, such as olive and sesame to make salad dressing.
  • Substitute it for butter, or half it with butter in your baked goods.
  • If you make homemade Larabars, coat them in coconut oil and refrigerate – this is gonna be my new favorite! Heck even if you use store bought larabars, dip them in coconut oil – yum!  And why not add some oil to the actual larabar itself and cut back on the dates and sweetness a bit.
  • Make date candy, chop up dates, mix with shredded coconut and stir in coconut oil, place spoonfuls into mini muffin tins lined with parchment or buttered for easily removal. I’m on a roll, shall I continue………..I am working on a recipe for a more healthy version of an Almond Joy bar, that will include coconut oil. Stay tuned if you’d like to try that deliciousness!!
  • Again mix with some kind of nut butter to dip celery or apples in. Or even better yet, get your hands on some COCONUT BUTTER, you can eat that by the spoon, no problem. (I found myself in the cupboard with a spoon quite often when I first discovered this wonderousness!)
  • Whip up some hot chai tea and add a big ole spoonful! Hey why not put it in your latte or cappucino?
  • Cook your pancakes in it, instead of the ever so horrid rancid vegetable oil. Or in your soaked porridge or oatmeal -num num num!
  • Melt some into some rice pudding at the end of the cooking time.
  • Pop your popcorn in the expeller pressed oil.
  • Mix it half and half with butter and spread it on warm homemade muffins.
  • Puree some into a recipe for popsicle molds.
  • If you are wanting to lose weight, take a Tbsp. in hot tea or warm water, or eat it on a spoon 30 minutes before your meals. (If you weigh less than 130 pounds you can take up to 3 tablespoons a day for weight loss or a therapeutic affect to help with health conditions, if you weigh more than 130 pounds,  4 1/2 tablespoons per day, and if you weigh more than 180 take up to 6 tablespoons per day.


Other ways to use coconut oil are; on your skin as a moisturizer. Gargle with it, in hot water, as a great mouth rinse especially if you have sore gums or even a sore throat. Use it as a makeup remover, namely eye makeup.  Use it as massage oil. Put some in your hot bath, or a foot bath. Here are several more posts from my friend Jessica’s blog, Delicious Obsessions; 52 Uses for Coconut Oil, 122 Uses for Coconut Oil, 115 Real Food Coconut Oil Recipes, 21 Non-Toxic Coconut Oil Skin Care Recipes

 

Virgin coconut oil, tastes very much like coconut, but the expeller pressed does not, so that would be a good kind to use more for sauteeing and stir frying. But if you like the taste of coconut, which I very much do, go for the virgin. I hope you find this post encouraging, inspiring and helpful!

This post contributed to Fight Back Fridays.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

jul May 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

yum! And you forgot to mention that it is an excellent personal lubricant. Not trying to make anyone uncomfortable hehe, but it’s much more natural and nice than those nasty expensive things you buy…and less embarassing to buy too!

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lydia May 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Ha – yep it’s true, I thought of that too!!

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Phil May 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Lol. “Massage oil” kinda covers it at a stretch, Jul.Anyways, what would I know..I just read it on an ebay sellers listing….

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Phil May 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I read somewhere that lauric acid has something to do with elevating growth hormone levels, too. Can’t find it again tho..I might be getting some more next week. I’ll eat 3 a day (tho I know you recommend more Lyds)…and I’m gonna use a little for shaving and face too :)

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lydia May 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Actually 3 is good for you Phil!! I have used it to shave with before, but mostly use it as a moisturizer after shaving…….it’s good stuff!!

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Sheila August 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Sold. Sold, sold, sold. I’m going to go find some, Lydia! Thanks…

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Lydia August 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Oh awesome Sheila!! :)

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Meg August 23, 2010 at 12:02 am

I am certainly getting myself some, on your recommendation (once my paycheck comes in ;-) )

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Suzanne September 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

I always cook in coconut oil — even meats, fish and spicy dishes. It gives foods a Thai or an Indian flavor so it makes me feel like I’m going out for dinner every night. Yummy…

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City Share September 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Wow, that’s some list of health benefits. I really need to start getting more in our diets. Do you take cod liver oil too? I think I need to read that Eat Fat, Lose Fat book. It has been popping up all over my reading lately. Thanks for the great post.

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Kathy Sullivan February 5, 2011 at 2:35 am

LOVE coconut oil. I was trying to figure out how to leave a comment on your photo on FB but could not so followed your link here. Other recipes: there is a delicious recipe for Coconut Almond Chicken at http://www.swansonvitamins.com. Tropical Traditions has recipes as well. MMMMM.

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Amado Romane June 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

Great post.I’m very enjoy it.Thank you very much!

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kate June 12, 2011 at 8:08 am

Just have to say thanks for this great information. This is what I was searching 4. Thanks Yahoo

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Emma @ Craving Fresh January 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm

This is a fantastic post. Thanks Lydia. I’ve just linked it to the Peppermint Coconut Bark recipe I posted today from Smart Sweets. http://www.cravingfresh.com/2012/01/smart-sweets-winner-plus-peppermint.html

Cheers,

Emma

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Lorraine April 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

When you say you take 4 or 4 traspones a day irá when you cook ir jointed The teaspoons just plain like your taking medicine ? Can I just take the teaspoons a day?

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Emilie Roush January 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Hi, I saw this post in Pinterest. I am interested in the part about taking coconut oil for “therapeutic benefit” when trying to lose weight. I am 190 lbs. and have lost 95 lbs in the last year. 6 tbl of coconut oil is about 84 grams of fat per day without even counting food. How does this help in weight loss? I am genuinely interested because I’ve heard about about it but this one aspect of it has always confused me.

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Anonymous March 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Alisa March 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Mary January 14, 2014 at 10:56 am

Perfect article. My dental hygenist uses it every day in the shower to cleanse her mouth. She suggested that we buy some for my daughter who had trauma to a tooth. I started using it yesterday myself and can’t wait to see the results.

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Dahlia March 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Hello!

I just purchased some organic coconut oil. I was wondering if it works the same way? Do I heat it and wait for it to become semi-solid? I was a little unclear about that part. Thanks!

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lydia March 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Hi Dahlia,

Depending on what you are using it for – you can warm it up a bit if you need to. For frying I just scoop out a hardened bit, for smoothies and baking I melt it first. When the weather warms up it will automatically remain in a liquid state.

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diana March 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

I use it on toast but I am trying to be glutin free i have hypothyroidism so I had it in coffee and made coconut curry chicken and caul in never used that much per day i am fatigued all the time I will up it and see

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