No doubt that coconut oil is one of the most versatile natural oils you can find that is beneficial for cooking, skin, hair and many other uses.
For centuries many countries where coconuts were native have enjoyed the benefits of coconut oil in many forms, as a sunscreen, moisturizer, hair conditioner and for cooking.
Besides its versatility, it is widely available, affordable, has been used for a long time, and natural!
Without further ado, let’s see the whole spectrum of benefits this natural oil has to offer!
Potential Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
1) For Memory & Aid Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease
The difference between the fats in coconut oil and other dietary fats is that coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) whereas other fats mostly come with long-chain fatty acids.
What is unique about medium-chain fatty acids is that they are well metabolized by the liver turning them into ketones. Ketones have been found to be a useful alternative energy source to the brain and could be beneficial to those who are developing or suffering from memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease 
2) Protect Cells from Oxidative Stress and Fight Against Aging
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) drawn from the raw coconut kernel comes with a lot of polyphenolic antioxidants.
According to studies, polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables may have the capacity to work as an anti-aging compound 
Thus, the polyphenols of virgin coconut oil have been recognized as a substance that could protect cells against oxidative stress by regulating cellular antioxidant status .
Although the effects of polyphenols may not be fully understood yet, the epidemiological studies on polyphenols have given hope in its ability to reduce risks of chronic human diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, infections, hypertension, osteoporosis, asthma and neurodegenerative diseases .
3) May Help Prevent and Treat Certain Cancers
In US colorectal cancer, breast cancer and skin cancer are one of the most common types of cancers to be reported.
Coconut oil medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) consists of capric, caprylic and caproic acids which have displayed a noteworthy fight against human colorectal, skin and breast cancer cells in cell cultures. These experiments have shown the potential of medium-chain fatty acids to prevent or treat these cancers 
4) To Improve The Quality of Life for Breast Cancer Patients
In another study breast cancer patients who consumed virgin coconut oil during a six cycle chemotherapy treatment showed substantial changes in their functioning & quality of lives.
The results from the consumption of virgin coconut oil showed that the symptoms could be reduced and many aspects related to body image, future perspective and sexual function can be improved. Certainly, VCO can be considered a good prospect for breast cancer patients who are striving to achieve a positive quality of life .
Other Coconut Oil Benefits & Uses
Coconut Oil Benefits for Skin
1) For Your Face
Since coconut oil has natural antibacterial, antifungal, anti-wrinkle, moisturizing properties, and a bit of vitamin E, it is a great option to be used as a nighttime moisturizer which benefits your face. It may also work as a natural barrier to protect your sensitive facial skin.
First, wash your face & neck with a natural face cleanser. Then apply a bit of coconut oil with your fingertips on your face and neck giving yourself a soft massage.
Make sure that you steer clear of your eye area as any contact with your eye can cause painful irritation. Facial skin can vary from person to person, so make sure your facial skin tolerates coconut oil.
2) As a Natural Lip Balm
Again coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and if you’re having chapped, cracked or dry lips, you can benefit from the moisturizing & healing effects of this oil.
You can either apply this oil directly on your lips or make your own lip balm combining coconut oil with cocoa butter or shea butter with aloe vera gel or jojoba oil.
3) For Your Dry Hands
If you’re frequently washing hands, using harsh soaps or exposed to household chemicals you may experience cracked or dry hands.
Coconut oil again can be a great remedy where you can drop a bit of coconut oil to your palms and rub your hands together until they’re well moisturized. Leave it for few minutes until well absorbed and then if you’re feeling greasy wash it and wipe off.
4) Natural Moisturizer for Your Body
Skin being the largest organ of the body it’s only fair that you take good care of it. Coconut oil comes with a lot of saturated fats and these fats may help your skin to locking in its water content keeping it moisturized while preventing any moisture loss from the pores.
You can apply it liberally after a shower to keep your skin supple & hydrated. When using coconut oil for skin, make sure to pay special attention to your dry areas such as the abdomen, arms, hands, elbows, lower legs, and feet.
5) Massage Oil
The anti-microbial, anti-oxidant properties of coconut oil make it a wonderful massage oil to revitalize your body. These properties may enable you in having soft, supple and younger looking skin due to its anti-aging & anti-wrinkle effects.
As you massage your body with coconut oil which is well absorbed to relax your tightened muscles with rubbing & light pressure the muscles are agitated and promote healthy blood circulation.
This can alleviate you with sore muscles, tiredness, and stress giving you total relaxation and rejuvenation.
6) Shaving Cream
Rather than using shaving creams with many chemicals, coconut oil can work as a natural alternative to remove hair from your legs (women) or face (men).
This can also work as a way to moisturize your skin and avoid any cuts or razor burns.
Coconut Oil Benefits For Hair
1) As a Conditioner
Unlike most commercial hair conditioners full of harmful chemicals, coconut oil is a fine hair conditioner that would suit all types of hair.
Many people around the world where coconut was native have been using this natural chemical-free oil for years for good reasons.
Most commercial conditioners tend to work from outside in, but coconut oil is a deep conditioner which works from the inside out where it penetrates the hair shaft and nourishes it with fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Apply some coconut oil on your scalp and massage to stimulate blood circulation while coating your entire hair with it. Now wrap a towel or wear your shower cap and leave it for 1-2 hours. You can then rinse your hair and wash it with shampoo.
The longer you allow coconut oil to penetrate the better, so you may also leave it overnight for best results wrapping your head with a towel, cloth or wearing a shower cap to protect your pillows and clothing.
2) Remedy for Hair Loss
According to a study done on three types of oils on the effect those had on hair, coconut oil was the only oil to be found that would remarkably protect damaged & undamaged hair from protein loss.
Coconut oil consists of saturated fat which has lauric acid that shows a lot of harmony with hair proteins and is able to penetrate the hair shaft .
As you massage your scalp with this natural conditioner, it stimulates blood circulation and may stimulate the regrowth of damaged hair.
3) To Fight Dandruff
Dandruff can be caused due to dry skin, using shampoo too often, fungus, bacteria or as a response to hair care products.
The medium-chain fatty acids with lauric acid and capric acid in coconut oil tend to provide a solid protection against fungus, viruses, and bacteria that could be the cause of dandruff.
By using coconut oil you can keep your scalp healthier, protect against fungus, bacteria or virus and reduce dryness by moisturizing to put an end to dandruff.
Follow the steps we discussed using coconut oil as a conditioner above.
5) Hair Detangler
If you have long, curly or thick hair, then you may experience knots, tangles resulting in frizzy, puffy hair with breakage & split ends. That’s a struggle no one likes to deal with but that’s where coconut oil, a champion detangler can come to your rescue!
Unlike many other commercial detanglers with harsh chemicals providing short-term solutions, coconut oil is much better as a long-term option as it moisturizes and repairs hair damage, besides working as a detangler.
Use your fingers to remove the tangles while applying the oil towards the ends of your hair. You can easily do this by separating your hair into four parts on your scalp. You can then comb your hair with a wide comb to straighten further. When one part is done tie it gently and repeat the same steps for another section.
Potential Side Effects of Coconut Oil
1) Coconut Oil May Increase Your LDL (Bad Cholesterol)
It is true that coconut oil can increase your HDL-C (good cholesterol), but at the same time it increases your LDL-C (bad cholesterol) as well, though not as much as butter (of course we vegans have no issues in that regard) 
Therefore over-consumption of coconut oil is not recommended since higher LDL-C can be a risk factor for heart disease.
Two tablespoons a day seem to be the healthy intake that may not put your health at risk.
2) Could Be a Cause for Weight Gain
As you know gaining weight is consistently eating more calories than you need apart from consuming fat. Oils are some of the most calorie–dense foods on the planet.
One tablespoon of coconut oil has 121 calories and that is 6.05 % of your recommended daily calories if you’re a woman (2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men daily) .
Again two tablespoons a day seem to be healthy and have not shown to add any weight.
Few Ways of Consuming Coconut Oil
What makes coconut oil an ideal cooking oil is the fact it has a lot of saturated fatty acids which are extremely stable at high temperatures. Its smoke point is 350°F (175°C) which is better than extra virgin olive oil.
Coconut oil can be a substitute for other oils or butter and can be used for tempering curries, sautéing or stir-frying, to make popcorn, baking, as a salad dressing (combined with other ingredients) or add it to your coffee, tea or smoothie.
It’s true that coconut oil could have some health benefits as a cooking oil, but let’s face it, it’s still 99% fat (82% saturated fat)  and quite high in calories though not as risky as trans fat or any other saturated fat which has palmitic acid.
Thus like most things in life our sincere advice is to use it in moderation. Studies have shown that taking two tablespoons a day would give you its health benefits without much risks.
Our recommendation is organic virgin coconut oil (ideally cold-pressed) which is the healthier option, but considering high-temperature cooking, various recipe requirements for neutral coconut flavor and price you can decide when to use refined or unrefined (virgin) coconut oil (check our guide here). There are odorless coconut oil brands specifically for your hair & skin as well.
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