How to: Coconut Oil for Health and Beauty
I’m a big fan of adding healthy fats to my diet. And of all the healthy oils, coconut oil is at the top of the heap when it comes to health and beauty benefits. Lately I’ve been hitting up the net and looking for easy ways to incorporate this once ‘evil’ turned super oil into my diet, and have found an easy routine that’s doing the trick.
It’s interesting to think that up until recently coconut oil had suffered a tremendously bad wrap. With over 90% saturated fat, coconut oil was labelled a scary, unhealthy fat that contributed to high cholesterol and heart disease.
There are overwhelming amounts of evidence out there that now suggest coconut oil has some unique qualities that actually make it a healthy and nourishing addition to the diet.
But…with all that saturated fat, how can coconut oil be good for us?
When I researched this topic I quickly learned something really interesting: not all saturated fats are created equal. For instance, the saturated fat in coconut oil is comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the body metabolises differently to the more common long-chain saturated fats (think fats from meat and milk products). Since MCTs don’t require bile acids for digestion, they pass straight to the liver to convert to energy (rather than being stored as fat).
But besides being a great source of quick energy, about 50% of coconut oil’s fat content comes in the form of lauric acid – a fat which isn’t so easy to come by (the other rich source is mother’s milk!). Lauric acid is known for its antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties – which makes coconut oil a pretty potent source for digestive health and overall wellbeing.
And what’s more, you need not worry about any “artery clogging” effects. Coconut oil has also been seen to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and thereby boost the LDL / HDL ratio towards better heart health.
Quite a turnaround, right?!
Given all these positives, I was keen to try adding coconut oil to my diet to curb hunger and provide an energy boost between meals (without the insulin spike that results from succumbing to a sugary snack).
But don’t take my word for it – there are plenty of nutritionists and medical practitioners still on the fence about coconut oil, so do look into it if you’re interested but sceptical. A source I keep going back to (and totally love) for health and wellness information and podcasts is Chris Kresser – Medicine for the 21st Century (link!).
How I boost my coconut oil intake
If you decide to take the plunge, make sure you pick up a virgin / extra virgin oil which as been pressed from the raw coconut flesh to get the benefits I mentioned above. One easy and popular way to add coconut oil to the diet is by adding a teaspoon or two into whole fruit and veg smoothies.
But I’ve found an easier way still – putting a dollop into my tea and coffee on the regular. At first this was so strange, but I’ve really gotten used to the light, yummy coconut flavour in my hot drinks!
My favourite combo at the moment is coconut oil w/ green tea (although I also love adding it to camomile tea and coffee):
I first started by only adding about 1/3 of a teaspoon (not very much!!), but now I can comfortably add a full teaspoon.
After a month or so I have noticed positive differences in my energy levels, food choices and skin.
I keep a small bottle at my desk and have the oil in my tea up to 3 times a day, or as soon as I’m feeling a bit hungry between meals. I have found this helps stave off my hunger long enough to avoid the abundant bad food choices at the office (sugary biscuits – I mean you!). And I’ve been enjoying a real improvement in my skin, as I’m no longer subjecting myself to the blood sugar high which I suspect was exacerbating breakouts.
Enough said – this is a healthy habit I’ll want to keep!
- One teaspoon of coconut oil will form a thin layer on the top of your drink – feel free to add more if you’re up to it!
The trick really is to stir the drink between each sip – this prevents the oil from sitting as a layer at the top, and makes it much more pleasant to drink…mmm, coconut!
What are your thoughts on coconut oil? Would you try adding it to a hot drink?