Ingredient Spotlight: The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil

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Ingredient Spotlight:  The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil

People often don’t realize that simple ingredients already available in your kitchen or medicine cabinet can multi-task in wonderful ways. These ingredients have been used for centuries by many different cultures for a very good reason – they work!

There is growing scientific evidence of coconut oil’s many beneficial uses.  It has been found to contain healthy fats known as medium chain fatty acids (MCFA):

  • Caprylic acid
  • Lauric acid
  • Capric acid

Unlike the fats found in plant based oils, MCFAs are:

  • Easier to digest
  • Not readily stored as fat
  • Are anti-microbial and anti-fungal
  • Processed by the liver, which means that they are immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat

There have been over 1500 studies conducted to date that have taken a closer look at coconut oil’s benefits.  Here are just some of the benefits you can enjoy:

Skin Care

  • Massage oil: Coconut oil is an effective moisturizer on all skin types and unlike mineral oils, is unlikely to cause any adverse reactions when applied
  • Natural Skin Moisturizer: Works well as a moisturizer for your face. It absorbs quickly and is non-greasy.  Although it’s solid at room temperature, it melts quickly when rubbed between your hands.  A pea sized amount is all that is needed – apply to your face before going to bed
  • Anti-aging: The antioxidant properties of coconut oil are well known which can affect the aging process.
  • Treatment for skin problems: It also helps in treating various skin problems, including psoriasis, dermatitiseczema and other skin infections. For this reason, coconut oil forms the base ingredient in various body care products like soaps, lotions, and creams
  • Body Scrub: When mixed with coconut sugar or ground coffee beans, coconut oil makes a wonderful facial or body scrub that will help remove dry skin
  • Lip Balm: There are many commercial lip balms on the market which contain synthetic chemicals, dyes and fragrance. Given coconut oil’s moisturizing properties and that it has a natural SPF of 4, it makes a great balm for lips and is safe to consume
  • Cold Sore Treatment: Applying coconut oil several times a day to cold sores will help reduce healing time and pain.  This is due to lauric acid contained within the coconut oil which is effective at reducing the cold sore virus’s ability to reproduce

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Hair Care

  • Shampoo: Coconut, along with apple cider vinegar can cleanse your hair and is a gentle way to keep your hair soft and shiny
  • Conditioner: Coconut oil is excellent to use on dry, damaged hair because it actually penetrates the hair shaft, repairing and preventing damage from the inside out. Since coconut oil contains lauric acid, capric acid and vitamin E, it can restructure the hair, preventing protein loss and improving its shine.  Depending on the length of your hair, 1 – 2 tablespoons can be massaged into the hair from scalp to tips and left for about 30 minutes or overnight before being thoroughly rinsed out
  • Controlling dandruff: Coconut oil is also anti-fungal and therefore a great way to both treat dandruff and prevent its re-occurance. Massage a small amount into the scalp and leave for at least 10 minutes or even overnight and then shampoo out.

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Dental Care

  • Coconut Oil Pulling: In Ayurvedic medical practice, oil pulling is used to detoxify the mouth, killing bacteria and therefore bad breath, and it helps to boost the immune system. Pulling is very simple – just swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for about 15 minutes every morning upon rising.  Note:  pulling should not be used as a replacement for traditional at home care or regular visits to your dentist.  Pulling is best used as a supplement to your regular dental care
  • Toothpaste: Coconut oil can be added in equal parts with baking soda and a few drops of peppermint essential oil for a homemade toothpaste.

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Pet Care

  • Healthy coat: Cat and dog owners can give their pets coconut oil daily to help improve their overall health. The oil aids in digestion of food and is highly recommended to keep their coats healthy and luxuriant.  You can check with your veterinarian but generally cats can be given ¼ teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight and dogs can have 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
  • Treating “hot spots”: Coconut oil can also be used topically to alleviate itching, to soothe skin conditions like eczema, and to help treat and heal wounds and insect bites.
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Health Care

There is a tremendous amount of hype about coconut oil’s ability to fight heart disease, stabilize blood sugar, balance cholesterol levels, support weight loss, and even to protect against certain types of cancers and treat Alzheimer’s.  While some of the research looks promising, there is no conclusive evidence of these claims.  That said, adding small amounts of coconut oil to your diet is fine.  Remember that coconut oil is composed mostly of saturated fat and so moderation is key.

Are you convinced yet? Organic, unrefined coconut oil is best because it contains all the naturally occurring phytonutrients and polyphenols. Look for coconut oils described as “virgin,” “cold pressed,” or “raw.”

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