Ten Clever Uses of Coconut Oil

Ten Clever Uses of Coconut Oil

Contributed by Eve Persak, Nutrition Advisor, MS RD CNSC CSSD

There’s no shortage of dialogue on coconut oil. From social media and magazines, to office chit chats and dinner table conversations – everyone seems to have a question or a tidbit to share.  

This is thanks to a slew of studies that override coconut oil’s previous notoriety and instead reveals its myriad benefits. Indeed, coconut seems to be the undisputed comeback kid of the ‘fats and oils’ family.

How can you include it in your day-to-day routine? Here are a few clever coconut oil uses that we like best:

For Recipes
Coconut oil is uniquely and naturally stable at high temperatures. Other unrefined plant oils tend to oxidise and smoke when the stovetop or oven dial is turned up to high, generating residues shown to be harmful to health. This makes coconut oil the perfect unprocessed solution for high-heat baking, sautéing or deep-frying.

For the Brain
The medium chain triglycerides (or MCTs) in coconut oil can serve as an alternative fuel source for brain tissues when brain-supporting energy reserves are unavailable or running low. Studies have also shown that coconut oil has been linked to improvements in certain brain-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s and seizure disorders. 

For Hair
Coconut oil is a time-tested homeopathic remedy that nourishes hair from root to tip.  When applied generously to the strand and the scalp, coconut oil moisturises and protects against dandruff and flaking, while stimulating the growth of hair follicles.

For the Mouth
Traditional healing practices such as Ayurveda espouse ‘oil-pulling’ - swishing a tablespoon of virgin cold-pressed coconut oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes - as a means to reduce the oral bacteria that can contribute to cavities, poor breath and gingivitis. Thanks to its anti-viral properties, coconut oil can also counteract painful canker sores when it’s applied directly on sore spots in the mouth.  

For the Heart
Coconut oil is – at long last – shifting its reputation from foe to friend of the cardiovascular system. Recent studies suggest that regular consumption can positively change cholesterol counts – boosting healthy HDLs and lowering worrisome LDLs. Some research has also hinted at coconut oil’s blood pressure controlling effects.

For Digestion
Coconut oil’s innate lubricating properties helps escort waste through the intestines to promote improved regularity. Some studies also suggest that the compounds found in coconut oil promote improved gut health.

For Sun Protection
Who knew that pure, cold-pressed coconut oil is a bona fide SPF 4 sunscreen? When applied topically, it can provide light UV ray coverage – sans the synthetic chemicals.  Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil also serves as a salve for treating mild dermatological burns from overexposure to the sun. 

For Bites & Wounds
Have a bug bite that won’t stop itching? Coconut oil can possibly serve as both the prevention and the cure. When liberally applied to the skin, coconut oil can be a DEET-free alternative to store-bought insect repellants. If bites do occur, a dab of coconut oil might do the trick to reduce swelling, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. With non-serious skin scrapes, coconut oil serves as an anti-microbial ointment, helping to keep the wound site from getting infected. Its natural fatty acid, lauric acid, also helps to promote skin cell regeneration and healing. 

For Moisture
Trying to cut back on chemicals? Coconut oil can be used as substitute for commercial face and body moisturisers. Besides being non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin, its mild antioxidant properties help to protect against ageing and damage. Coconut oil has also been shown to alleviate irritated and dry, inflamed patches brought on by skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.  

For Feet
While coconut oil is understood to be an all-around anti-bacterial, the caprylic acid it contains has proven anti-fungal effects too.  This makes it a great natural dual-action solution that counters smelly feet or stubborn cases of athlete’s foot. Plus, coconut oil’s moisturising properties can protect against dry, cracked heals and reduce the friction that often leads to blisters.