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Heard the hype about this tropical oil? Here's four ways to use coconut oil that can benefit your health.Coconut oil is great for your skin and delicious for cooking. Find out why and how coconut oil is good for you with advice from Sarah Oulahen, a naturopathic doctor from SOW Health Naturopathic and Chiropody Clinic in Toronto.
1. Coconut oil is good for your overall health
Coconut oil is a source of essential fats—a particular type of fat called a medium-chain triglyceride—that's easily utilized by our bodies, acts like fuel specifically for the brain and has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels.
"It's an anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid that's key for the health of all cells in your body and the overall health of all of your membranes," says Oulahen.
2. Coconut oil is ideal for cooking
Saturated fats are essential fats the body needs. A medium-chain triglyceride fat especially, is easily digestible because it doesn't require liver or gallbladder function. "We are becoming more aware that fats don't make you fat. Your body actually needs and readily utilizes fats," explains Oulahen.
"People think that a saturated fat is a bad thing in terms of cholesterol, but it actually will help with controlling good levels of cholesterol and can help with weight-loss as well," says Oulahen.
There are two main types of coconut oil to cook with: virgin and refined. The virgin coconut oil maintains the taste of coconut in the dish, while the refined coconut oil won't have the coconut smell or taste to it, but will still maintain all its benefits. Coconut oil is also great for cooking at high temperatures because it has a higher smoke point than olive oil.
3. Coconut oil can benefit for your hair, skin and nails
You can use coconut oil as a makeup remover, body moisturizer, shaving oil or hair mask. Some people are even making toothpaste by mixing coconut oil with baking soda, says Oulahen.
Oulahen recommends buying an organic coconut oil so you can use it for cooking or beauty treatments. If you want your coconut oil to smell like coconut, get the virgin one. Otherwise, if you want it to be odourless, get the refined coconut oil.
Store your coconut oil at room temperature. If it's hotter than room temperature, the coconut oil will start melting, while in cool temperatures it will get harder. "The good thing about coconut oil is that it doesn't go rancid as easily as a lot of other oils, so room temperature will stable it for at least a year," says Oulahen.
4. Coconut oil can help you detoxify
Your mouth and oral hygiene are really at the root of your health, says Oulahen. Not surprisingly, a lot of people are talking about and trying out non-traditional practice for whitening their teeth.
Oil pulling is a practice that started from the Ayurvedic medicine and it involves swishing coconut oil in the mouth for 15 minutes, typically in the morning for numerous oral hygiene benefits. "People say oil pulling makes their teeth whiter, it decreases inflammation in their overall body, it can help with bad breath or suspected microbial imbalance," says Oulahen.
"Coconut oil is anti-microbial as well, so it can help with the microbial balance in the mouth and it also pulls out any inflammation in the body," she says. Always make sure to check in with your dentist before starting a new oral health routine.
For more information on healthy oils, read about the best kitchen oils to boost your health.