+ Well Nourished | Benefits of Coconut Oil

Simply Well Nourished – Coconut oil, why I’m addicted

Coconut oil – it’s back in favour and the world of nutrition has, at last, embraced this age old tropical fruit.  So is it all hype?  Whilst I’m not a fan of ‘super’ foods (especially of the Amazonian fruit kind), I absolutely love everything about coconut products, especially raw, extra virgin coconut oil.  I’ve had lots of requests for more information on the benefits of coconut oil since my post on dietary fats, (if you missed it you can find it here).  I feel so good since including it in my diet, I’d go so far to say, that I’m addicted!

So here are some of the reasons I believe coconut oil is the champion of all dietary fats:

It’s a natural fat
Unlike many ‘vegetable oils,’  the oil is not extracted using dangerous chemicals and extreme heat (which yields damaging trans-fats).  This in itself makes it a safe oil to consume.  The most beneficial grade of coconut oil is raw, unrefined or virgin oil which I like to use for raw baking and heating to moderate temperatures (up to 175℃).  If the taste is a problem or you’d like to use it to deep fry or bake at higher temperatures, then choose refined coconut oil. Refined expeller-pressed oils have their scent and flavour removed through a deodorising process.  Always check that any refined oils are not hydrogenated (the hydrogenation process creates trans-fats) and hexane free.

It gives you more energy and helps you lose weight
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFA’s).  Your body metabolises MCFA’s in the liver, immediately converting them into fuel (energy) for your body (and brain), rather than them being stored as fat.  MCFA’s are small molecules and easily digested, placing less strain on your digestive system than other forms of fat.  They also increase your metabolic rate which leads to weight loss.

Stimulates an underactive thyroid
MCFA’s stimulate the functioning of your thyroid gland which in turn stimulates your metabolism.

It is fabulous for your immune system
The principle MCFA’s in coconut oil are capric and lauric acid.  Lauric acid is a fat rarely found in nature though it is found in breast milk.  It has unique health promoting properties and is known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal (great for candida infection) and antiprotozoal (eg; giardia infection).

It prevents blood sugar-driven energy slumps and stops sugar cravings
Firstly, because it is so satisfying, you won’t feel like reaching for the lolly jar.  The energy delivered by coconut oil is the slow release kind which stabilises blood sugar levels, leaving you craving free.

It is the very best oil to cook with
Because it is so saturated, it is very stable when exposed to heat.  That means it retains its healing properties even when used to cook with.

It’s anti-inflammatory
Because it speeds up your bodies metabolic rate, your immune system functions more efficiently and you are able to heal and regenerate cells more efficiently.  This equates to less inflammation overall.

It’s a great form of skincare
It strengthens the skin and connective tissue, preventing signs of ageing.  It is also exfoliating so your skin will look and feel smoother.  Try it as a moisturiser, it’s so lovely.

It’s the best teeth whitener
My mum actually asked me if I’d ‘gone all Gold Coast on her and had my teeth whitened?’  Think it may be the coconut oil perhaps?

So, what more is there to say, the stuff is good for you.  I would consume about 3-4 tablespoons a day (in cooking or as part of a snack, even straight out of the jar).  Use it where you would normally use an oil or fat.  I personally prefer butter to bake with as coconut oil, whilst fine straight out of the oven toughens as it cools.  However, this can be used to your advantage when making cookies and dense slices or brownies.

Note – it is liquid at room temperature in the warmer months and becomes solid as the weather cools (I’ve had many calls from patients in the past, concerned that their coconut oil has turned solid)!  This is normal and if you want to liquify it in winter, just stand it in a warm spot or heat in the pan.

Have you tried it yet?  What are your thoughts?  Any questions, then post them below in the comments?

Raw recipes using coconut oil:
Cacao rough, get the recipe here.
Chocolate, Almond and Coconut Bar, get the recipe here.
My raw chocolate recipe, get the recipe here.

More uses for coconut oil plus a video about its anecdotal use in improving the symptoms Alzheimer’s Disease, click here.

 

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Image 6

Pictured here with cacao powder and shredded coconut (it’s not too exciting to look at when photographed alone)!  Plus these three are a flavour combination made in heaven!

  • Coconut oil tastes and smells divine. 🙂
    We have also been using coconut oil mixed into a paste with bi-carb soda as a toothpaste for about a year now. We tried it in a similar mix (with glycerine if I remember correctly) as a deodorant but my armpits reacted badly to the bi-carb so I stopped. Now, on days when I know I’m not going to exert myself too much, I use pure coconut oil as a deodorant and it works really well for those times. My partner can use it at any time without smelling but I’m not so lucky. 🙁

    • Thanks Vicki. I’d read about it’s use as a deodorant but haven’t tried it myself. I do use it on my face and body as a moisturiser and my skin has never felt so soft. A little goes a long way so it’s a very cheap organic skin care product. G x

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  • Kim

    Hi Georgia

    Can you recomend any brands that are better than others?

    • Absolutely. I love Niugini coconut oil for a couple of reasons. It is a quality product produced in Papua New Guinea (so low food miles). It also comes in a 1 litre jar with a hinged lid so it is awesome for re-using to store other goodies in once empty. I often look for ‘on sale’ brands at my local supplier too and buy up. Loving Earth brand is nice, and has a mild flavour for those who aren’t a fan of the coconut flavour. Melrose is a cheap option too and available in some supermarkets (health section usually). Any one else have a favourite brand or know where to source a good quality oil cheap? Please share your sources! G x

  • Anita

    Love your website Georgia!
    I have just purchased some Coconut oil, so can’t wait to try it out for this recipe!

    • Great Anita. I’ve had a few people email me to find out where they can get the brown rice syrup (also know as rice malt syrup) which I use all the time and also in my chocolate recipe. The Pure Harvest brand (Rice Malt Syrup) is recently available at Coles in the health isle. It is only $3.80 for 500 grams so very economical too. Yippee! G x

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  • Belinda

    I’ve just made the Cacao Rough recipe that you had in the latest ‘Haven’ magazine. It was delicious and the girls loved it. I didn’t have the rice malt syrup on hand so I just used Agave syrup and it seemed to work well also. I have never used the rice malt syrup but as I see in an above post its more economical so ill be trying that ! What a great website.

    • Hi Belinda, thanks for your comment. I’m not a fan of agave (almost all fructose is one reason) and yes rice syrup is definitely my preferred sweetener (Coles now sell it so it is very economical). But yes any syrup will work with the slice. FYI you’ll find more on the best choices of sweeteners and sugar in my post here and here. If you like peppermint and chocolate, add a few drops of peppermint essence for a mint slice – yummy too. G x

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  • Erin

    Hi Georgia. I just found your Cacao Rough recipe in the Haven magazine and wanted to try it, as I’m always looking for healthy treats for the kids. The description mentions nut butter, but it’s not listed in the ingredients. Would you please clarify what type of nut butter and how much is needed? Also, is cacao powder the same thing as cocoa powder? Your website it’s great and I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

    • Hi Erin, welcome to Well Nourished. Sorry that was a typo, no nut butter needed. Cacao is “the pulverised raw, un roasted seed of the Cacao tree with all of its enzymes in tact. It’s a rich source of minerals, antioxidants and many beneficial phyto (plant) chemicals. Unsweetened cocoa or cocoa powder is made using the roasted seed which is less nutritious than its raw counterpart. Try to source raw cacao over cocoa powder which is available in health food stores.” G x

  • Kelly Berghella

    Coconut Oil is fab. I have just started using it on my eczema ridden hands upon suggestion from my beautician. It has been fantastic, better than most Cortizone type creams.

    • That’s fabulous Kelly. How nice to have a safe solution for your eczema. I’ve had great success treating babies with eczema topically with coconut oil also. Plus it smells delicious! G x

  • Beck

    Hi Georgia,
    I have just stumbled across your website a couple of weeks ago when searching for healthy and no-wheat diets to follow for my 9 month old twins, and I am loving your advice and website. I read something else on your website a couple weeks ago about coconut oil (can’t remember where it was) and since then I’ve been adding it into my girls’ food – i just pour a bit into whatever i’m giving them, and they seem to love it. I also mix it into my 4 year old’s jalna yoghurt and sometimes add a little bit of dessicated coconut on top too and she loves it…….i think it takes the bitter taste of the yoghurt away. We call it coconut yoghurt and she even requests to have it for Kindy – winning! Thanks again for your great site, i’ve been telling everyone about it. Beck 🙂

    • Thanks Beck, so glad I can help and inspire a little. Sounds like you are doing a great job and love the sound of the coconut oil in yoghurt – yummo. Thanks for your ideas G x

  • Linda Robinson

    I love coconut oil! Found it really helped when my youngest recently had hives – the dr said to keep him moisturised to reduce the itch. So a bath with coconut oil got him covered very easily 🙂 Also, whilst I’m here just want to say that since discovering you I have made so many changes to what I thought was a healthy diet but obviously wasn’t as good as it could have been – I now have less pain in my bunions, clearer thoughts, more even energy levels and moods, and my love handles have gone! I’m more toned than in my teenage years. How cool is that? I don’t go a day without checking out what you are up to – keeps me inspired and shows me it really isn’t hard to do once you get into a rhythm. Thank you, thank you thank you!!!

    • Hi Linda, I’m grinning ear to ear! Thanks so much for sharing how small changes have made a big difference in your life and I’m just thrilled to have helped and inspired you. G x

  • Ceska

    Hi Georgia,

    I’ve managed to somehow bring myself to a very large dislike of coconut oil, cream and milk after 6 yrs or so. Strangely, I really enjoy the water! Perhaps Fiji’s fresh green and yellow coconut have made me ultra fussy?! I digress.

    Many of your recipes call for either the cream, milk or oil. Can I go with presumption that most of the cream / milk requirement may be substituted with milk and the oil for butter – in general? I know you have tested using what you have yet, just a question none the less…

    PS – I use it as a moisturizer without a problem

    • Yes Ceska, coconut oil is an acquired taste and I have had moments where i have almost overdone it and gone off it too. Yes, most recipes you can simply swap for a dairy alternative without a problem G x

  • Lina

    My son has had a rash on his color bones and his “willy” for a few months. A Chemist suggested it might be a fungus and recommended canisten (sp??) cream. Didn’t buy it. Took him to a Naturopath last week and the lady recommended an ointment but it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I am very keen on giving coconut oil a go. Interestingly the Naturopath asked about our diet. Told her what we were eating etc esp smoothies at breakfast with tsp of coconut oil, among other things. She actually said not to bother using coconut oil because it had no nutritional benefit and to use flax seed oil. I am so pleased to read your post on Coconut oil. It’s a great all-rounder ie great with food and great for the skin. Plus I need my teeth whitened!!

    • Hi Lina, If your sons rash is fungal then coconut oil will help. Flax and coconut oil are both beneficial (in different ways). Love to know f your sons rash responds to it G x

      • Lina

        An update on my son’s rash. It has been a very slow process, however the coconut oil is certainly starting to clear up his rash. Some spots I have to look really hard to find. I am so pleased. Thank you Georgia for, as always, a very informative post.

  • Andrea

    Hi Georgia – I am really loving your blog: fab recipes and sensible information.

    But I am still confused about coconut oil’s smoke point. I have looked up many reliable sources that say the smoke point of coconut oil is roughly 175C, which is about the same as butter. The smoke point of an oil is when it breaks down and produces toxic substances. But so much info I read says that coconut oil is safe to cook with at very high temperatures. I am wondering if this means that even though the smoke point is low, that these toxic substances aren’t released in coconut oil. BUT that is the definition of smoke point – the point at which an oil smokes, becomes unstable and releases toxic substances. Can you please help unravel this mystery for me?

    Many thanks – Andrea

  • Hi Andrea – yes it is confusing as when I wrote this it was promoted as having a high smoke point – I have done a fair bit of contacting various suppliers and all have told me very different things re smoke point. So my current approach to using EVCO is to use it for lower temp cooking (baking it seems just fine) and if I’m frying or baking at high temps (which I actually rarely do) I choose a refined CO (or stick with tallow or duck fat). I will update this post to make that more clear though. G x

    • Andrea

      Hi Georgia

      Thanks so much for your reply. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person who’s confused! It seems to be difficult to get to the bottom of it through suppliers (I have tried doing the same as you). Do you happen to know the smoke point of refined coconut oil? I haven’t been able to find consistent information on this either. Like you, I don’t do much high temperature cooking, but when I do, I stick to ghee, avocado oil or rice bran oil.

      Thanks again for your fabulous blog. xx Andrea

  • Claire Pearce

    Hi Georgia, I need to start cooking with less saturated fats for my husband’s cholesterol. Do you think an alternative oil would be better than coconut given its high fat content?

  • Hi Claire
    I personally don’t prescribe to the ‘saturated fat causes high cholesterol’ theory. I have a few posts on fat and you’ll also find the author David Gillespie has some great info on fat and cholesterol (his books Toxic Oils and Big Fat Lies are good reads, library should have them) G x

    • Claire Pearce

      Thanks Georgia, I’ll follow up with those books and have a look at your posts on your website.

  • Hi Katie. It’s interesting – my best friend teaches med students. We were discussing dietary fats and she admitted to the last year or so of students starting to question the saturated fat hypothesis and they have very much realised the research that informed past views of fat, as very flawed and that sugar is more a culprit of heart disease/ disease in general. Really it’s up to you to make an informed decision. I would say that too much of any one thing is never good, so as much as I love coconut oil (and fatty meat), they aren’t consumed daily, just a couple of times week. Variety is what I focus on. G x

    • Katie

      Thanks Georgia – variety seems a good philosophy to follow! 🙂

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