7 Facts You May Not Know About Coconut Oil

Coconut oil

Cultures and countries across the world use and appreciate the coconut tree. Because of its nutritional and therapeutic values, it’s referred to as “Kalpavriksha” (the all giving tree) in India. As the name implies, the coconut palm is extremely versatile and used in many capacities. Everything from the coconut water, to the leaves, to the kernel hull have characteristics that are beneficial to human health. [1] Coconut oil, specifically, has become quite popular for cooking and even other uses. Let’s take a look at a few facts about coconut oil that you may not know.

1. The Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil isn’t All Bad

I’ve heard reports from people who are confused when they spot coconut oil at the grocery store, read the nutritional label, and see the high saturated fat content. “What gives?” they ask, “I thought this stuff was healthy?” Well, it is.

Unfortunately, the fat in coconut has been the subject of debate and misinformation. Although we’re told that saturated fat, across the board, is bad, the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids — these are different than saturated fat from animal sources — and do not degrade within the body. In fact, the human body uses them directly as energy and coconut oil consumption has even been associated with beneficial lipid profiles. [2] [3]

Coconut oil is even better than other vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil. Those oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which aren’t good for the cardiovascular system. Many nutritional experts recommend switching to coconut oil to avoid the health risks. [4]

2. Coconut Oil is Great for Hair

Coconut oil is used in a staggering amount of shampoos, conditioners, and hair care products. [5] The reason for its inclusion is quite simple. With its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, coconut oil can effectively penetrate the hair shaft to reduce protein loss, leaving it nourished and healthy. [6]

3. And, It’s Great for Skin

Coconut oil is also very moisturizing and beneficial for the skin. [7] In many cultures, it’s used as a remedy for a great many skin conditions. [8] The reason? It’s chemical structure. The short-chain and saturated fatty acids, which prevent it from oxidizing and becoming rancid, are nourishing to the skin and have even been found to encourage wound healing. [9]

4. Useful Against Harmful Organisms

Perhaps one of the most astounding facts about coconut oil is how potent it is against harmful organisms.

  • When a 2007 study evaluated the effectiveness of virgin coconut oil against candida, a 25% concentration of coconut oil was found to be 100% effective against candida. [10]
  • Randomized and controlled research in 2010 found that a coconut oil and anise spray was effective against head lice. [11]
  • Coconut oil has been found to repel mosquitoes. [12]
  • Tungiasis, or sand flea disease, is a nasty problem not common in the United States but way too common elsewhere. Research earlier this year discovered that coconut oil may be an effective repellant to the flea that spreads the disease. [13]

5. Can Replace Milk in Ice Cream

Everyone loves ice cream but not everyone is keen on the milk fat used to produce it. What’s the alternative? Bland, fat-free ice cream? Maybe not. It seems that virgin coconut oil may be an acceptable replacement for milk fat in ice cream. Those who have tried it claim that the ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavor and an excellent appearance, texture, and aroma. [14] (If you’ve happened to try it, please leave a comment below and let us know the brand and what you thought.)

6. Massage Oil for Newborns

Did you know that giving oil massages to newborns has been found to improve thermoregulation and encourage healthy weight gain? A 2005 study evaluated the effect of coconut oil on the growth of newborns in India. Starting on the second day of their lives, an oil massage was given four times a day by a trained person until the baby was discharged, and then by the mother until the baby was 31 days old. The results? Coconut oil massage significantly increased weight gain and growth. [15]

7. Might be a Remedy for Poison?

It might be premature to call coconut oil an antidote for poisoning but a 2005 incident in Iran certainly suggests it may have something to offer. Hospital officials there reported of a young man who had attempted suicide by ingesting the pesticide aluminium phosphide. Upon admittance to the hospital, he was experiencing severe indications of toxicity and given several counteractive substances, including charcoal, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulphate, and coconut oil. The result? He survived, and coconut oil, while probably not deserving of all the credit, was labeled as an important part of the protocol. [16]

Do you know a coconut oil factoid that we missed? Or do you just have great things to say about coconut oil… or even constructive criticism? Please leave a comment below and join the discussion!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. DebMandal M, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60078-3. Epub 2011 Apr 12.
  2. Amarasiri WA, Dissanayake AS. Coconut fats. Ceylon Med J. 2006 Jun;51(2):47-51.
  3. Feranil AB, Duazo PL, Kuzawa CW, Adair LS. Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women in the Philippines. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011;20(2):190-5.
  4. Sircar S, Kansra U. Choice of cooking oils–myths and realities. J Indian Med Assoc. 1998 Oct;96(10):304-7.
  5. Burnett CL, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, Klaassen CD, Marks JG Jr, Shank RC, Slaga TJ, Snyder PW, Andersen FA. Final report on the safety assessment of Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil and related ingredients. Int J Toxicol. 2011 May;30(3 Suppl):5S-16S. doi: 10.1177/1091581811400636.
  6. Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-92.
  7. Verallo-Rowell VM, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.
  8. Saikia AP, Ryakala VK, Sharma P, Goswami P, Bora U. Ethnobotany of medicinal plants used by Assamese people for various skin ailments and cosmetics. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jun 30;106(2):149-57. Epub 2006 Feb 13.
  9. Sachs M, von Eichel J, Asskali F. [Wound management with coconut oil in Indonesian folk medicine]. Chirurg. 2002 Apr;73(4):387-92.
  10. Ogbolu DO, Oni AA, Daini OA, Oloko AP. In vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):384-7.
  11. Burgess IF, Brunton ER, Burgess NA. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Jan;169(1):55-62. doi: 10.1007/s00431-009-0978-0. Epub 2009 Apr 3.
  12. Das NG, Baruah I, Talukdar PK, Das SC. Evaluation of botanicals as repellents against mosquitoes. J Vector Borne Dis. 2003 Mar-Jun;40(1-2):49-53.
  13. Feldmeier H, Sentongo E, Krantz I. Tungiasis (sand flea disease): a parasitic disease with particular challenges for public health. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2013 Jan;32(1):19-26. doi: 10.1007/s10096-012-1725-4. Epub 2012 Sep 1.
  14. Choo SY, Leong SK, Henna Lu FS. Physicochemical and sensory properties of ice-cream formulated with virgin coconut oil. Food Sci Technol Int. 2010 Dec;16(6):531-41. doi: 10.1177/1082013210367546. Epub 2010 Nov 11.
  15. Sankaranarayanan K, Mondkar JA, Chauhan MM, Mascarenhas BM, Mainkar AR, Salvi RY. Oil massage in neonates: an open randomized controlled study of coconut versus mineral oil. Indian Pediatr. 2005 Sep;42(9):877-84.
  16. Shadnia S, Rahimi M, Pajoumand A, Rasouli MH, Abdollahi M. Successful treatment of acute aluminium phosphide poisoning: possible benefit of coconut oil. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2005 Apr;24(4):215-8.

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  • Sheila

    I usually use 1 teasppon 3 times per day by mouth, as I have heard it is a good fat. I also keep a small container in the bathroom and use it in place of face and body lotions.
    There are many health benefits of coconut oil as mentioned above.
    One excellent benefit according to my research is that is a great brain and nervous system protector, and has been know to help with ADD, ADHD, Dementia, and Alzhiemers.
    I reccomend to keep reseaching the internet on the health benefits of Organic Coconut Oil… you will be amazed.

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  • CBG

    I use extra virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer/cleanser, and am amazed at how great my skin looks (I’m 58 years old). I also take 2-3 tablespoons a day, and use it to scramble eggs. It is great in green veggie drinks made in the blender (along with Zico coconut water).

    As far as the coconut ice cream question, I have tried a brand called SO Delicious. The vanilla bean flavor was great, but I didn’t like the chocolate flavor at all.

  • Yesaname

    We use coconut oil as baby diaper balm instead of the chemical diaper creams. It works better, and we don’t have to fear that the baby is being poisoned. Also to note; we wash the baby’s butt each time, and only use wipies when we are out and water is not available. Never diaper rash.

  • Victor Goehner

    I have tried coconut ice cream and it was very good, but then I like the the taste of coconut. I tried at least 2 flavors and found the coconut quality in each to be a nice plus.

  • ghc_health

    Great strategy, thanks for sharing!

  • ghc_health

    I’ve tried the SO Delicious brand of coconut beverages, not bad. I will see if I can find their ice cream.

  • steve

    I work outside and use it as a sunscreen, Ive read that it has an spf of around 10. I feek like the heat of the sun helps the oil to be absorbed through my pores.

  • DrCsth

    My dog has been plagued with flees since we moved into our new townhouse in Ladson, S C. I began massaging raw organic coconut oil into his tail, body and paws and to some extent, his furry little LasaApso head. The flees emerged rapidly and were quickly dispatched. The only problem, he loves the oil, would eat a cup daily, if allowed and is licking his tail until he’s lost hair. new training challenges.

  • pmforesthillca

    I have used Brewers Yeast to keep my cats and dog free from fleas and ticks (and I live in the forest!). Cats: 1/2 t 2x/week; 90# Dog: 1 heaping t 2x/week. Get it at your local health food store. Great for humans too; complete B complex of vitamins, trace minerals, almino acids, 4g protein per T (Google it). Pungy taste, so if you wish to use BY, start with 1/2 t mixed in a glass of OJ. As the taste goes away, increase by 1/2 t until you reach 2T/day. Your body will thank you!

  • http://www.testoanabolic.com/ Jacob Wanes

    Coconut oil offers a large number of health benefits. It is one of the most healthiest oils that many people recommend. It is ideal for the treatment of acne. It improves your immune system and helps you lose weight and more.

  • bcarolr

    hi Coconut Secret products are great—”ice cream”
    and coconut nectar sweetner, coconut vinegar they also make dark chocolate covered coconut bars sweetened only with coconut nectar to die for.
    As far as coconut oil goes I have been using for over a year, make my own co milk kefir and eat coco meat.–for many benefits.
    However with regular blood tests my total cholesterol has risen to 225–but wait–so has my HDL risen to 90… I am 54 female, 5″-1″ 105 lbs , eaten no redmeat or junk for 30 years and no other reason for cholesterol
    …doctor trying to make an issue of it, but I’m ok with it
    just don’t believe that it will not make it go up–it does.
    any thoughts?

  • Anusha

    I work with a 60 yr old man whose cholesterol went up. He was on a low carb diet in addition to drinking coconut oil in his coffee and just eating it straight. So, I’m not sure about all the details of his diet, but I just feel like any other fat, it should be used in moderation. What do you think? In my culture, using coconut oil for the hair is very well noted, and I love that it has helped so many people with skin problems. I was told by a customer that it helped his wife with rosacea in 3 days!! For stretch marks for pregnant bellies it is apparently the best as well. I make a toothpaste for my dachshund using coconut oil and baking soda. She LOVES it!!

  • ghc_health

    Coconut oil is like anything else, it has many benefits but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an upper limit to how much should be consumed. It’s a healthy food, not a miracle potion.

    Does your dachsie let you brush her teeth with it?

  • sarahm168

    For coconut ice cream, try Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss. It comes in many different flavors and is incredibly tasty. My favorites are Cherry Amaretto and Mint Galactica. They also have ice cream bars in various flavors as well. It is a bit pricey but well worth it.

  • Sheila

    I wanted to mention I will not use Fish Oil, no matter how much they processed it to remove the Mercury, BPA’S & Radiation.
    Which is the reason I use the Organic Coconut Oil by mouth 3 times per day, I find it best to scoop a little Coconut Oil on a teaspoon, and then dip a little Almond Butter along with it.
    And if I had some Real Dark Chocolate, I would have a healthy Almond Joy! ;)

  • Sheila

    Do you eat bread, or foods that contain wheat, whole grains, and or white flour? And what about heart healthy boxed cereal or oatmeal?

  • Jeannine Piro

    Cure for alzheimers.

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