I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a multitasker. Now as a multitasker, I appreciate products that are multipurpose: the large coffee mug that also makes for the perfect soup bowl; the just-right wrap dress that can be worn for both work and play; the healthy cooking oil that makes for a wonderful all-natural, great-smelling skin moisturizer to boot
Coconut oil first entered my life by way of my kitchen, and soon another jar had made its home in my bathroom closet next to my other toiletries. Ever since, it has been my favored product for cooking and baking, as well as for most of my natural DIYs.
10 fun facts about this healthy fat
- It consists primarily of saturated fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs): Nearly 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated fats. Don’t be scared! First of all, many studies that include hundreds of thousands of people prove that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a myth and that saturated fats are not likely associated with heart disease. Secondly, coconut oil’s saturated fats are “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs), medium-length fatty acids that go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they quickly become a source of energy (see #4).
- It helps regulate blood-sugar levels and can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes: Coconut oil can help improve insulin use within the body, helping to regulate blood-sugar levels. Additionally, a recent study found that coconut oil protects against insulin resistance, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- It helps regulate cholesterol levels: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid (a type of MCT), which increases the so-called “good” (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Coconut oil also lowers the “bad” cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is essential for the creation of hormones. So basically, it takes something bad and turns it into something that we need – that’s great!
- It boosts energy levels: MCTs are broken down in the liver, where they are efficiently converted to energy for the body.
- It boosts metabolism and may assist in weight-loss: A study reported in the Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Researchers found that participants who consumed 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more calories than those who consumed less. Furthermore, a 2009 study found that women who ate 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks had lower amounts of abdominal fat, which contribute to heart problems. In addition, they did not gain more weight than those women who did not consume the coconut oil daily.
- It curbs cravings: The good quality fats in coconut oil are extremely satiating. Hunger is an indication that our bodies are not being fed correctly (either in regards to quantity or quality). The proper amounts and quality of fat and protein provide our bodies with the necessary energy to run properly, and keep our cravings in check. Make your own homemade and healthy chocolate (coconut oil and coconut butter are the primary ingredients!) to help satisfy cravings with a sweet and satiating snack.
- It has anti-aging effects and may negate the effects of free radicals: Coconut oil has a positive antioxidant effect on the body by helping to stop the oxidative damage of free radicals. Oxidation is believed to contribute to cardiovascular problems and skin aging.
- It boosts the immune system and has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties: Lauric acid makes up almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. After coconut oil is digested, the lauric acid is broken down into monolaurin, a type of monoglyceride that kills bacterial and viruses as well as other harmful pathogens.
- It makes for an awesome skin moisturizer: This cooking oil also works wonders for the skin, keeping the skin’s connective tissues strong and reducing the appearance of fine lines.
- It is ideal for high temperature cooking: Consisting primarily of MCT fats, coconut oil has a higher smoke point than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils. This makes it ideal for cooking at high temperatures (unlike olive oil which oxidizes at high temperatures and becomes carcinogenic).