Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Published Aug 17, 2012, Updated Dec 19, 2020
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Many of you have probably noticed that I use coconut oil in a lot of my recipes. As a lady who used to buy fat-free things, I now realize that fats are essential to a healthy diet. They also make things taste lovely and leave me feeling full and satisfied after a meal. I love my healthy fats – nuts, avocado, salmon, chia and hemp seeds… bring em’ on! As for oils, coconut oil is one of my favorite oils. It is free of cholesterol and trans fat, contains only 1% Omega-6 and is rich in medium-chain “good fats” that doctors recommend. It’s a nutritious baking oil, as well as, a delicious butter substitute on bread, vegetables, or popcorn. I like adding a bit of coconut oil to smoothies or oats for a bit of healthy fat to keep me feeling full or using it instead of olive oil for roasting and stir-frying.
I’ve talked about some of its great benefits before and how I’ve been using it for my skin for years, so I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about why it’s so great for cooking and eating.
During my training at IIN, I learned about the benefits of coconut oil including it’s ability to:
- Boost energy
- Promote a lean body and aid in weight loss <– Because of the medium chain of fatty acids, the oil is easily digested and immediately burned as energy by your liver–unlike the longer chains present in other oils which take longer to digest and therefore are often stored as fat
- Slow down the digestion of food, which helps you feel fuller and prevent blood sugar fluctuations after a meal
- Remove stress from the pancreas, which increases metabolism
- Support a healthy immune system and improve heart health
- Help your body fight bacteria, fungi or parasites that can cause indigestion <– This is caused by the anti-microbial properties of the saturated fats
A couple notes about coconut oil:
- Extra virgin coconut oil is what you need to look for when buying coconut oil. Hydrogenated coconut oil, which is found in some packaged foods, is not healthy as it’s been put through a process that takes the nutritional benefit out of any heart-healthy oil. I’ve purchased several different brands of coconut oil before, but Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is my favorite. It’s cold pressed which means it’s not refined, deodorized or bleached. You can find coconut oil at most grocery stores now, but your local health food store will definitely carry it.
- Coconut oil is a saturated fat so it’s solid when at room temperature.
- It can be stored in either it’s liquid or solid form, and it can be liquified easily by applying low level heat. It’s easier to measure the oil for recipes when it’s in a liquid state so I like to heat it up by placing the jar in a cup of hot water.
- It’s also helpful to remember that coconut oil does have a lot of calories of if you’re watching your calorie intake be aware of that. It has around 130 calories for 1 Tablespoon of oil. As with any healthy fat, you don’t want to go overboard. 🙂
- Coconut oil is great for skin care as well! It can be used on your skin as moisturizer and in/on your hair and scalp to prevent dry hair and dandruff. Check out my all natural face cream.
Here are some of my favorite recipes that include coconut oil:
- Roasted Summer Squash and Zucchini
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- Zucchini Noodles in Thai Peanut Sauce
- Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
- Quick and Easy Balsamic Salmon
- Baked Banana Oatmeal Cups
- Quinoa Buckwheat Cereal
- Chocolate Dipped Coconut Luna Bars
Do you use coconut oil? What’s your favorite recipe with coconut oil?