No, this isn’t a post about oil pulling. I haven’t tried that yet and I’m not entirely sure I’ll be jumping on that bandwagon.
There is no denying it: coconut oil is one of the hottest trends right now. I’ve actually been using it for over 2 years for cooking, but I have recently starting taking full advantages of its other uses as well.
For years coconut oil got a bad rap for being so high in saturated fats. If you still think coconut oil is bad for you, do some research. It doesn’t belong in the same category as margarine or shortening for a number of reasons. Most importantly, coconut oil is made from medium chain triglycerides. These are shorter fat chains and are put to better use by your body, rather than just storing it away as fat. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not a nutritionist. I am not a scientist. I simply read, do my research and then use what works for me. If you disagree with anything I’m saying here, feel free to comment and let me know why. But please, don’t do so without letting me know where you got your information! I love to learn new things and I am wrong from time to time. Let me in on your secrets, kind of how I am letting you in on mine!
That being said, if you haven’t bought your first bottle/jar of coconut oil yet- what are you waiting for? It has so many great health benefits! It’s not only great to cook with (get rid of all of that vegetable and canola oil!) but it’s also great for your skin and hair! If you’re curious about other oils that are paleo friendly, see this helpful chart from Ancestral Health Guy:
It is important to note that palm oil is highly controversial, and therefore I just avoid it. If you want to use it, make sure that it is from a renewable source and not from a company that practices palm oil sourcing. That is all I know about the topic since again, I simply chose not to use palm oil.
Ancestral Health Guy has tons of great posts about coconut oil, as well as other paleo topics. He is hands down one of my favorite resources and bloggers.
From Ancestral Health Guy’s chart, I really only use 4 things; mainly out of convenience. Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is and always will be my favorite), lard (when I cook with bacon I use the leftover fat in another dish, but I never save it beyond that night), olive oil and coconut oil. I have occasionally used avocado oil and sesame oil, but not nearly enough to go into detail about either.
To be perfectly honest, I still prefer olive oil for a lot of my cooking. I am not a huge fan of the flavor that coconut oil imparts on my food. It is in no way a bad flavor, but it isn’t one I plan on when I start cooking. Plus my mom always makes this coconut chicken and mushroom dish and since I only recently started eating mushrooms, I was never a huge fan. That one probably has absolutely nothing to do with the coconut flavor as much as the mushrooms in the dish, but either way it accidentally turned me off to using too much coconut oil in cooking.
Coconut oil is used in a lot of paleo recipes, so I strongly suggest getting yourself a jar or two. As far as what type to buy, Eat Drink Paleo has a great guide to follow.
One very important thing to learn is different oils smoke points. I have tried making “fried” chicken nuggets with coconut oil and I find that the oil tends to burn much quicker than some other oils because of its smoke point. That leads to a very smoky, smelly house and some burnt lunch. Neither are ideal.
What else is coconut oil good for besides cooking? Well.. how much time do you have? I have recently fallen in love with using coconut oil as a hair mask. I usually only put it on my ends and avoid my scalp. The ends are really, really dry thanks to this never-ending winter we’re having. Coconut oil has made my hair so much softer and more manageable, as well as much more hydrated. I’ve only done the mask a handful of times, but I plan on continuing with it at least once a week. It’s pretty easy to melt the oil in your hands (don’t use a microwave) and just rub it into your hair. I’ve read that people have trouble with the oil dripping on things, but I guess I’m just not using that much. I put enough in my hair that it is definitely covered, but not so much that it will ruin my clothes or furniture. Leave it in for as long as possible. If you can sleep with it in overnight (with a shower cap on), go for it. I haven’t gone that far yet, but I plan to. Then you simply wash it out with shampoo next time you shower.
Coconut oil is also said to be a wonderful moisturizer. I actually have used liquid vitamin e as my face moisturizer for about 5 years now, but I wouldn’t be opposed to trying coconut oil. It works wonders on the rest of my skin, so I can’t see how my face would be any different!
Coconut oil is also great for soothing sunburn, a great base for an exfoliating scrub, helps to soften cuticles and is even said to help with stretch marks (many pregnant women swear by it). I’ve also heard it helps fight cold sores, helps with gum removal, can be used as shaving cream, fights acne, heals wounds, can be an insect repellant, reduces wrinkles, fights cellulite, you name it. The claimed uses are really endless, just do a simple Google search and you’ll have about 15.7 million hits (at the time of posting this article).
I am not claiming that any of these things will work for you. For all I know, the coconut oil will make your hair super greasy and you’ll hate me. I am simply giving you some tips on what has worked for me and what I have read works for other people.
What have you used coconut oil for? I am always up for some experimentation!