So…as fad diets go, new and fresh things to try when it comes to living healthy and ‘changing your life for the better…one step at a time’ whether is everyone and their mother eating the newest superfood…kale, chia seeds, acai berry, edamame, flaxseed, Tart cherry juice, shiitake mushrooms, pomegranate juice *inserts blank stare* or some other new thing I decided to jump on the new fad bandwagon with my newest yet healthy favorite thing…coconut oil.
My mom put me on to coconut oil a few years ago because she knows how much I love to cook so I was excited about the cooking component, but did you know they’re like a million and one uses for coconut oil ?
Let’s start with the basics. In true foodie form and fashion when it comes to my research I love to quote good ole Wikipedia and WebMd. Let’s see what they’ve got to say about the coco…
Coconut oil, or copra oil, is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. It has various applications as food or in cosmetics. Because of its high saturated fat content, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidifiction (the process which causes a substance to become rancid), lasting up to six months at 24 °C (75 °F) without spoiling.
Many health organizations advise against regular consumption of coconut oil due to its high levels of saturated fat (similar to that of animal fat) having potential to increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
So…what are the differences between all these oils and fats…good question, because I’d like to know as well…
There are basically two groups of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Within each group are several more types of fats.
The good guys — the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, while unsaturated (vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, peanut and avocado oil) fats are liquid at room temperature. This is because saturated and unsaturated fats differ in their chemical structures. Saturated fats have no double bond between molecules, which means there are no gaps and the fat is saturated with hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats are often found in animal products (meat, poultry skin, high-fat dairy, and eggs) and in vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as coconut and palm oils. Thus my theory is to ingest coconut oil sparingly.
Now…on to uses…
Coconut oil is commonly used in cooking, especially for frying, and is a common flavor in many South Asian curries, it is also often used by movie theater chains to pop popcorn and thus adding a large amount of saturated fat in the process. If you’ve never cooked with coconut oil, you’re in for a real treat. Look for certified organic, either virgin (unrefined) or refined, depending on your recipe and your personal taste. Organic virgin coconut oil has a soft coconut aroma and more pronounced coconut flavor. If you don’t care for the taste or smell of coconut but you want the benefits of the oil, the organic refined version is a perfect choice. It stands up beautifully to high heat and doesn’t impart a coconut flavor or aroma.
I purchase my coconut oil at Costco or Mom’s organic market.
Common cooking uses for the coco
Oil/Butter Replacement- There’s no better way to get the benefits of coconut oil than to replace other less desirable fats with it. When cooking or baking, substitute it for butter or just about any oil. It lends moisture, freshness, and richness to baked goods, and a subtle complimentary flavor to savory dishes. How much you substitute will depend on the recipe you are making. For baking, most people will fall in the 1:1 ratio or 80% coconut oil 20% water when subbing for butter. For basic cakes, cookies, and brownies I find 1:1 to be sufficient. When it comes to more complex pastries that get their flaky puffiness when steam is escaping, you may find yourself tweaking the amount a little. For oil substituting, subbing 1:1 is a good route to go.
Coconut Oil also has the wonderfully healthy components
Reduce Risk (or effect) of Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer’s is devastating to all who experience it, whether personally or with a friend or family member. It is no wonder that we search so desperately for a cure. The word that coconut oil could possibly “cure” or prevent Alzheimer’s started circulating with vigor when a pediatrician published a book about feeding coconut oil to her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and got positive results. Other studies have confirmed that ketones, which are essentially “brain food” provided to keep the brain functioning when the body runs lower on glucose, can help improve memory, and potentially “reverse” the effects of Alzheimer’s. It’s a much more complex subject and process, but that’s it in a really wrapped up nutshell. The dosing that I have uncovered implies 2 teaspoons taken daily with food to help improve cognitive function.
Metabolism Booster – 2 tablespoons per day are proven to rev up your metabolism. If you sit around eating coconut oil, you aren’t going to lose weight. However, if used to substitute other fats, it can help you drop the pounds by taking the place of those other calories. Unlike most saturated fats, it’s mainly comprised of medium chain fatty acids, versus long chain fatty acids. This difference in molecular structure means that it doesn’t get packed away as fat as easily and instead is sent straight to the liver to be metabolized, giving you a boost in energy. This energy in turn makes exercising easier, and the exercise in turn helps you lose weight. Another major factor that it plays is as an appetite suppressant. Craving something you shouldn’t be?
Thyroid Supporter – Regular coconut oil consumption has been shown to support healthy thyroid function.
Energizer – 1 teaspoon can give you a burst of energy instead of turning towards a caffeinated energy drink.
Oil Pulling – Swish coconut oil around in your mouth for 10 minutes before brushing.
Constipation Relief- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil every morning on an empty stomach to keep your digestive track running smoothly. You can try 2 tablespoons to work out acute constipation as well.
Cracked Paw Pads- Doggy paws are tough, and they should be a little rough, calloused, and thickened. Imagine how tender they would get if they were soft and smooth! That being said, when your dog starts to get really dry, cracked paws, rub some coconut oil into them to help them heal. Don’t overdo it though- your dog doesn’t want its paw pads to be as silky smooth as your skin. The hardest part about this is keeping them from licking it off. Make sure to keep your canine away from delicate floors if you are worried it might stain.
Hair Mask– While in the shower, melt your coconut oil by running the jar under the warm water. Then, after shampooing, apply a generous amount of the oil to wet strands and twist hair into a bun. Let it sit for at least five minutes before rinsing to add moisture and shine back into limp locks.
Body Oil/Moisturizer/Lip Balm/Cuticle Softener– As a solid, coconut oil’s creamy texture makes it the perfect light moisturizer to slather all over. Apply a quarter sized amount right after you get out of the shower so it can sink into your warm skin. The light tropical scent that lingers after it’s applied.
Tattoo Moisturizer/Healer-The feeling after you get new ink is beyond amazing, and you want to do everything you can to help your tattoo heal and stay healthy. Often time’s thick petroleum jelly is applied to keep the tattoo moist, but that can get gummy quickly, and can sometimes feel like you’re suffocating your skin rather than helping it heal. Instead use coconut oil to facilitate healing and keep the area moisturized (but not drowning.) As much as you love it, your tattoo is technically a wound, and your body will treat it as it would any other trauma. This includes that maddening itch, which coconut oil happens to soothe quite well. It is much less smothering, and more natural, than many other products, and keeps your skin moisturized, smooth, and healthy-and your new tattoo radiant. For the period that you would usually use jelly, apply coconut oil instead. You can be generous here, but remember that it melts quickly and can get runny, so applying smaller amounts at a time is useful.
Makeup remover-Just a teaspoon (or less) can take off a day’s worth of makeup with ease, no matter the staying power. Massage a dollop of warmed, liquified coconut oil straight onto skin and watch as makeup melts away, then rinse with warm water. To make your own coconut oil makeup remover wipes, melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per round cotton pad in a microwave-safe container. Then, lay the cotton pads in an even layer and let them soak up the oil overnight.
Shaving Cream-Warm the jar under the water and smooth onto legs before shaving. Your razor will glide smoothly, allowing for a super-close shave, and your legs will be moisturized from the oil in the process.
Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet or Frying Pan
Who knew coco had so many great benefits ? Since I’m a foodie, you know I couldn’t forget the cooking aspect of the coco..right.
- Wash your brand new cast iron pan with soap and water. This will hopefully be the very first and very last time you touch this pan with soap.
- Lather up the pan sides and bottom generously with the coconut oil. And you don’t actually rinse. Instead, bake the pan at 250°F for 2 hours.
- Remove the pan from the oven and drain off the oil to reuse later and let the pan cool.
- Repeat this process of lathering up the pan after every time you use it for the first, say, four uses. Then you’ll want to keep the maintenance part of the seasoning up by re-seasoning every once in a while, or after you’ve had to give it a good ol’ salt-scrubbing.
Cutting Board conditioner
Coconut oil has become an increasingly popular substance used to maintain cutting boards and butcher blocks. Because of its high saturated fat content, it is slow to oxidize and is therefore resistant to rancidification. That said, there are reports of boards that have been treated with coconut oil beginning to smell after a long period of time.
Well guys…that’s all for now, but if you’re familiar with any coconut oil uses or recipes for that matter, feel free to shoot me a comment below and I’ll be glad to share or test it out !