I Go Cuckoo for Coconut Oil! What’s the Deal with Coconut Oil? When coconut oil popped up as the latest health trend, I rolled my eyes and ignored it. I figured it would pass, like many fads do, as research emerged about the ineffectiveness of it all. But coconut oil is still around and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact, various studies have revealed numerous health benefits to using coconut oil not only in your cooking, but in your beauty regimen as well. I finally decided to look into the hot topic to decide for myself if it’s a passing fad or here for good.
It Can Help You Lose Weight Although coconut oil contains a high amount of saturated fat, there’s a growing amount of research that suggests saturated fat1 isn’t as awful as it was once believed. So consumption of coconut oil won’t increase your risk of heart disease, which is good to know. In fact, the lauric acid that it does contain is a medium chain saturated fat, which means it can be digested fairly quickly and used as energy. Clinical studies have shown2 that these medium chain fats can be effective in maintaining or even losing weight. However, this research is still new and thus, might change.
Coconut Oil Boosts Good Cholesterol These saturated fats in coconut oil can raise HDL-cholesterol levels. HDL is the “good” cholesterol. However, it also raises bad, LDL-cholesterol, which is the culprit for clogged arteries. While the benefit may outweigh the risk for some, there are other oils3 out there, like olive or soybean oil, that only raise HDL and lower LDL, making them much more beneficial than coconut oil in this regard.
Coconut Oil May Improve Glucose Tolerance Those with diabetes may benefit from the high level of medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil. These MCFAs lower blood-sugar levels slightly4. They also preserve insulin action and may improve insulin sensitivity in those with Type 2 diabetes.
It Has Antioxidant Properties Antioxidants are powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce oxidation in skin cells, preventing blotchiness or discoloration, as well as reducing the signs of aging, such as fine lines. One clinical study found that virgin coconut oil is effective with these antioxidant5 properties, another big health benefit.
It Has Multiple Beauty Benefits Coconut oil can successfully be used as a gentle makeup remover, skin moisturizer6, and hair mask. As a makeup remover, gently massage it into the skin to lift the makeup away and then wipe with a cotton ball. As a moisturizer, simply apply as lotion. Coconut oil has a surprising non-greasy effect and leaves behind a lovely, gentle scent. As a hair mask7, it penetrates within the hair shaft to hydrate from the inside out. These are just a few of the ways that people have applied it and found it beneficial, but there are undoubtedly more uses for the natural product.
Like most things, coconut oil has its positive and negative aspects. There’s still a lot to learn about it and the good news is that much research is being done. As far as cosmetology purposes go, it doesn’t seem like you can go wrong with coconut oil as a main source of hydration. As far as dietary purposes go, it’s still recommended to use coconut oil sparingly and look to other, more reliable oils until more is known about this one.