These days, coconut oil is as much of a household staple as peanut butter (or is that just among us health freaks)? Though there are good reasons why coconut oil is awarded the title "world's friendliest fat," we still understand why some people have been hesitant about jumping on the bandwagon. It is a saturated fat after all, and we have been taught to avoid those at all costs. It's also energy dense, about 117 calories per tablespoon. So why are we singing coconut oil's praises?
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, indeed. However, it is a plant source meaning it does not have any link to increased risk for heart disease or raising cholesterol. In fact, lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) in coconut oil, has been shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), improving overall cholesterol ratios.
These MCT's you may have heard about are miracle fats. They are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids, which are found in most fat sources. They are sent directly from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are either used immediately for energy or converted into ketone bodies, an energy source for the heart and brain during fasting or low carbohydrate intake. Long-chain fatty acids on the other hand are more likely to be stored. The MCT's have been shown to boost metabolism and help break down stored fats.
We also love the fact that coconut oil has several beauty uses. Aside from its culinary purpose, it can also be used as skin lotion, lip balm, eye-makeup remover, to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, as a frizz-fighter, or hair mask! Our personal recommendation? Saturate (no pun intended) your hair in about a teaspoon of oil and let it sit overnight. Wash it out in the morning with shampoo. We just saved you the cost of your next deep conditioning treatment, you're welcome. We bet a tub of coconut oil could replace a lot of those products you have taking over your bathroom cabinet!
Remember, coconut oil is high in calories and fat, so while there are many health benefits, we do not recommend consuming more than a tablespoon per day.