Made from both the milk and the “meat” of coconuts, coconut oil is a thrifty thing to have around the house. You can buy it as either a solid fat or a liquid oil, and it has many applications in cooking, cleaning, and laundering. Are you ready to put Martha Stewart to shame? Here are just a few common uses for coconut oil.
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Use Coconut Oil as a Mouthwash
Coconut oil is one of the most commonly used in “oil pulling,” a kind of dental practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth for 10 – 20 minutes at a time. According to practitioners, it can pull bacteria from your teeth and lead to cleaner gums and fresher breath than brushing and flossing alone.
There's some scientific evidence to back this up, including one study that found oil pulling to be just as effective as using antiseptic mouthwash. Another study showed higher percentages of plaque removal by participants using oil pulling.
The final verdict: While you won't want to replace your Crest with coconut oil, it can be a valuable practice for better oral hygiene.
Use Coconut Oil as a Weight Loss Tool
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that have a number of health benefits, including potential as a weight loss aid. Studies have shown that MCTs can boost your metabolism and help you burn calories faster. They can also promote satiety, or the feeling of being full, which can help you resist junk food after you're done on the treadmill.
Other benefits of MCTs include:
- Increased energy
- Increased cognitive function
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduction of lactate buildup in the muscles
Use Coconut Oil in the Kitchen
Many health-based recipes use coconut oil as a substitution for something with poor nutritional value. Mayonnaise, for example, is delicious but incredibly fattening, and store-bought jars usually come with added sugar and soybean oil to boot. By whipping up a homemade mayo made with coconut oil instead, you can create a much healthier tuna salad.
You can also use coconut oil to satisfy your sweet tooth. There's a killer dark chocolate recipe that can be made with nothing but cacao powder, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and a sweetener like honey or agave.
Coconut oil can also be used for frying foods, which we'll talk about in a bit.
Use Coconut Oil for Hair Health
Coconut oil can do great things for your hair. Whether you're looking to hydrate it, increase its shine, or strengthen it against breakage, coconut oil can give you more luscious locks. Its secret lies in its lauric acid that can deeply penetrate hair strands to provide nourishment. Rather than just superficially giving your hair a shine, it'll go deep and work on the follicles from the inside out.
Protip: You don't have to spend big bucks on coconut-based hair care products. You can DIY your salon experience by making homemade coconut oil hair masks. You can also apply coconut oil directly to your scalp, though that requires a deft touch to straddle the line between “glossy” and “greasy.”
Use Coconut Oil for Your Skin
We've already talked about the hydrating effects of coconut oil, but did you know that the moisturizing is great for hair and for skin? You can use the same tub of coconut oil all over your body. It'll create a soft and silky feeling while also working as a barrier against dryness. Some studies have shown that it can even work as an anti-inflammatory, so if you struggle with a condition like eczema, coconut oil might help with the redness and swelling.
Use Coconut Oil for Fresher Laundry
Coconut oil can be used as a base for soaps and laundry detergents. In addition to being fully organic, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil can help to remove stains, decrease odors, and prevent stiffness and dryness in fabrics.
Another great thing about coconut laundry powder is its scent. While its strength will depend on the amount and type of coconut oil that you use, you're sure to get a bit of a beach vibe in your laundry room.
Ultimately, however, the true strength of coconut oil is in its efficacy. It'll let you move away from harsh, chemical-filled detergents while still getting your clothes nice and clean. The tropical scent is just a bonus!
Use Coconut Oil to Fry Your Food
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which is something that you'll want to beware in terms of nutrition, but it makes for a great frying agent. Unlike butter or unsaturated oil, it has a more stable chemical structure in a sizzling pan, and this will lead to better frying. You can even use coconut oil when cooking at extremely high temperatures, something that can create toxic compounds in other frying agents such as corn oil.
Use Coconut Oil to Promote Healing
Remember when we said that coconut oil can act as an anti-inflammatory? Well, it works for skin care and wound care alike. Poultices made with coconut oil can promote healing by reducing the swelling of minor aches and pains. It can also simulate the collagen production in your skin if you have any discoloration from bruises or inflammation.
One big caveat: Do not apply coconut oil to open wounds. This means nothing with broken or bleeding skin. You'll want to keep those areas as clean as possible.
Use Coconut Oil as an Insect Repellent
Never buy a bottle of bug spray again! Many essential oils can be used in home remedies for insects, including lavender, peppermint, and coconut. Here's one of the most common formulas:
- 16 ounces of water
- 1 – 2 squirts of dish soap
- 5 – 10 drops of essential oil
Combine everything in a water bottle and spray it liberally around doors, windows, corners, closets, and anywhere else where bugs tend to congregate. Since it's non-toxic, it won't kill them, but it'll form a kind of odorous barrier that they won't want to cross.
Use Coconut Oil to Fight Belly Fat
Do you have stubborn belly fat that just won't go away? Try taking two teaspoons of coconut oil every morning. In addition to helping with general weight loss, it can also go to work on the fat cells in the waist and abdomen. Studies have shown great success with abdominal weight loss in participants who ingested coconut oil as opposed to sunflower or other types of oil.
One thing to note: Coconut oil is not low in calories, so if you start to down multiple teaspoons per day, make sure that you're accounting for those extra calories in your diet!
These are just a few common uses for coconut oil. There are many more that range from “cuticle care” to “polishing wooden furniture,” so don't be afraid to explore the many diverse applications of coconut oil. It's one of the most versatile things to keep in the cupboard!
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