My New BFF…Coconut Oil

Coconut OilI first heard of coconut oil a few years ago when my husband was trying to replicate his beloved movie theater popcorn. We bought some and it was used only making popcorn…and I don’t mean the healthy kind.

A little over a year ago, I began learning more about the Paleo style of eating and noticed that many of the recipes called for coconut oil instead of olive oil or other conventional oils. Around that same time, a friend of mine said that she recently began using coconut oil as a hair mask and I had to try it. Obviously curiosity took over and I tried using coconut oil in these new ways. I was instantly hooked and coconut oil has quickly become my go-to item for many different uses. As a matter of fact, I have three jars of it in my house at all times…1 in the kitchen for cooking, 1 in the bathroom and 1 in the bedroom for moisturizing and health & beauty purposes.

Ways I Use Coconut Oil
Cooking – I have been using coconut oil instead of olive oil when cooking for almost a year now. Coconut oil is able to tolerate high heats very well, so I’ve been using it in when I stir-fry or saute vegetables. It’s also great for baking and can be substituted in a 1 to 1 ratio. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but it is cholesterol free and trans-fatty acid free and has actually been shown to help lower cholesterol levels due to its ability to stimulate thyroid function.

Skin Care – NJ winters tend to leave my skin dull, dry and scaly, but not anymore! I started using coconut as a moisturizer and my skin is now silky smooth. I began by applying a small amount of coconut oil to my skin after my showers, but now I even use it in place of shaving cream. You can also use it as a facial moisturizer. It may feel a little greasy at first, but the skin quickly absorbs it and leaves your skin looking refreshed and glowing. Coconut oil has even been shown to help with skin issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

First Aid – Speaking of applying it to skin, I recently found out that coconut oil helps to repair skin that has been cut, scraped or bruised. I noticed it on myself as a side effect of using it daily and after a little reading, found out that it forms a barrier that keeps dirt, bacteria and viruses out of wounds. It also speeds up the healing process and can help bruises heal faster. I was skeptical when I read that it can help reduce the visibility of varicose veins but I tried it and guess what…it works!

Hair Care – As I mentioned above, a friend of mine told me that she used coconut oil as a hair mask, so I had to give it a try. I warn you…it gets messy, but it’s totally worth it. I applied the coconut oil to my hair liberally and gathered my hair on top of my head so I could apply a shower cap (trust me, you want to use the shower cap. I tried it without and was running down my face and neck. Gross). I left it on for about an hour and then shampooed as normal. My hair instantly felt soft and smooth and my curls were more manageable. I’ve also noticed I don’t have issues with flaky scalp or dandruff anymore, which is a nice bonus!

Oral Health – While I’ve seen pins about brushing your teeth with coconut, I have not tried that. What I have tried is “oil pulling” which  involves rinsing (swishing) approximately one tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes and then spitting it into the trash before rinsing your mouth out with water. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as if they are being pulled out by a powerful magnet, then bacteria hiding in the gums and in pores within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution. The oil needs to be swished until it turns a milky white which means it is full of bacteria. It takes a little getting used to and you may need to start with a smaller amount of oil and work your way up. Just make sure you spit the oil into the trash and not the sink or toilet. Coconut oil turns hard at certain temperatures so it can clog drains. You also want to make sure you don’t swallow any of the oil since it is full of bacteria. People that “oil pull” claim that it helps to whiten their teeth, reduces halitosis, relieve gum and tooth sensitivity and reduce gingivitis. I began trying it when I heard it can help to alleviate jaw pain and it’s worked!

Digestion – The saturated fat in coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties that help control parasites and fungi that can cause indigestion and other digestion issues. The fat in coconut oil also helps to aid in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut oil has also been shown to improve your metabolism and thyroid function, while increasing your energy levels.

These are only a few of the many uses for it…and as you can see it’s pretty damn versatile!

Do you use coconut oil in your daily life? Have a use for it that is not listed above…please share cause I’d love to hear how you use it!

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