Coconut oil is a saturated fat, and has therefore had a terrible reputation among health-conscious individuals. However, there are different types of saturated fat; and coconut oil is actually good for you in moderation. For health, for beauty, for food; there are limitless beneficial uses of coconut oil.
Coconut oil can be used in myriad ways for medicinal purposes in the form of topical and oral treatments. Applied to the temples and rubbed in slowly, the coconut oil “massage” is an effective way to relieve stress and mild headache pain. When rubbed over cuts or bruises, it creates a protective sealant against outside pathogens, and it has been shown to help the damaged tissue of a bruise heal faster.
As an oral treatment, coconut oil is used to ward off intestinal parasites and fungi that cause indigestion, yeast infections and painful bowl movements. Coconut oil promotes healthy digestion, which allows for better nutrient absorption. Though a saturated fat, coconut oil is not unhealthy; it is relatively low in calories compared to other fats, provides energy and promotes weight loss by increasing metabolic function.
One of the most hyped uses of coconut oil is for skin health and appearance. There are many commercial products available (creams, oils, sprays, bars, etc.) that promote coconut as their miracle ingredient. Applied in small amounts to dry areas of the face, the oil “seeps” into the skin and hydrates and “expands” it for a smoother look, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It can also be used to relieve skin maladies such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. Coconut oil provides the skin with free-radical fighting antioxidants that are crucial in fighting against bacterial infections (such as acne), damage to connective tissues and the deterioration of skin lipids (which causes liver spots in old age).
Coconut oil also promotes hair health. The oil is a natural treatment for the reduction of scalp dandruff. The fatty proteins in the oil also help repair damaged, over-styled, over-dyed and abused hair.
A relatively healthy oil compared to other fats commonly used in the kitchen, coconut oil also receives its culinary merits from its mild yet distinct flavor and its long shelf-life. Its culinary uses are found in regions of the world where coconut production is abundant (tropical regions such as India and coastal Asia). It can be used to replace any oil or butter in cooking or baking, and it can also be melted and added to smoothies.