It seems like we can’t talk about any sort of health or home issue without hearing how coconut oil can fix it. From squeaky doors and rust covered tools to teeth whitening and acne scars, everything has some sort of “cure” to be found in coconut oil. So, are the benefits of coconut oil really as awesome as everyone says? Or is this another case of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?”
Coconut oil’s secret is that it’s made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). These triglycerides are processed differently in the body, making them more likely to be burned off than stored as body fat. Studies have also found that it also raises good cholesterol. It has been said to help with heart health, prevent Alzheimer’s, aid in weight loss, and it makes for a great moisturizer.
If you ever talk to a coconut oil enthusiast, they’ll probably bring up the fact that coconut oil is proven to raise good cholesterol levels. However, it will also raise your level of bad cholesterol. It’s not known if the increase in the good outweighs the increase in the bad at this time, but that doesn’t mean there are no benefits to speak of.
In moderation, coconut oil is actually a healthy replacement for cooking with butter and lard. The American Heart Association states that you should only get 13 grams of saturated fats a day, that’s only 1 tbs of coconut oil. Otherwise, try to get most of your dietary fats from unsaturated sources, such as olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Here’s how to bake with coconut oil:
- In most recipes, you can replace butter with coconut oil at a 1:1 ratio. So, if you needed half a cup of butter, you need half a cup of coconut oil. Some people choose to only substitute half so that the coconut flavor isn’t as strong. So, you’d end up adding ¼ cup of butter and ¼ cup of coconut oil, rather than the half cup of butter the recipe calls for.
- If the recipe calls for salted butter, you’ll need to add salt in your substitution. You’ll need to add about half a teaspoon per stick of salted butter.
- Temperature and bake time will not change.
This claim has not been researched at all, so there is no scientific evidence to site as to whether it’s true or not. However, coconut oil does contain antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of disease, but you’ll get a bigger antioxidant boost from vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Since the MCT’s are processed differently, there are a number of claims that coconut oil is exactly what you’ve been missing in your weight loss plan. While diversifying the cooking oils in your diet is always a great option to get more healthy fats, there isn’t anything about upping your intake of coconut oil that will make you shed pounds faster. Actually, coconut oil is pretty high in calories (117 calories per tablespoon). If you plan on incorporating higher amounts of coconut oil into your diet, you’re going to have to cut back elsewhere.
One quick search of coconut oil on Pinterest and you’ll find thousands of possible uses and recipes for coconut oil body wash, face masks, and conditioners. While not every use you’ll read about is going to be a miracle cure, there are some uses that are widely used and praised.
Moisturizer: Using coconut oil as a moisturizer, especially in the winter months, has become increasingly common. This is really great for really dry skin, such as on the elbows or heels, and to keep your cuticles from cracking.
Makeup Remover: coconut oil is a great option for those who have skin that can’t tolerate the harsher makeup removers.
Conditioner: You might have noticed that several beauty brands have come out with coconut oil shampoos and conditioners. If you prefer the cheaper route, there are hundreds of concoctions for coconut oil conditioners on the web. Just plain coconut oil will help tame frizz and can improve scalp health.
So yes, the overall health benefits of coconut oil have been exaggerated a bit. No, it’s not the cure to Alzheimer’s or cancer and it’s not going to make you shed 50 pounds in a week. But if you’re looking to recreate your Grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and can’t bear to add that pound of lard to the recipe, or if you’re struggling to find a moisturizer in this dry, cold winter weather, you should definitely give coconut oil a try.