Very few products have made such a large impact on the health industry as coconut oil has. Over the last decade, it has gone from being considered a somewhat obscure alternative to olive oil to a genuine panacea, where it is advocated to impact nearly all facets of health in an extremely positive manner.
Its recommended applications vary significantly, with people suggesting it can enhance skin health, improve hair quality, promote weight loss, increase immune system function, and maximize practically all aspects of health and function.
But is this really the case?
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What Is Coconut Oil?
In the simplest sense, coconut oil is just that – oil derived from coconuts.
With this in mind, coconut oil provides to us one of the richest sources of saturated fats on the planet, with a whopping 90% of the energy it contains derived entirely from saturated fatty acids.
Interestingly, for a long time, saturated fat was thought to be the main dietary driver of heart disease, where it was also suggested to contribute to a number of other cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses.
But this is no longer thought to be the case.
You see, there has been a vast amount of recent research demonstrating that there is no association between dietary saturated fat intake and heart disease. In fact, there is research to suggest that consuming the correct types of saturated fat can actually impact your body in a positive manner.
This is exactly where coconut oil enters the discussion.
What’s in Coconut Oil?
We have already mentioned that coconut oil is absolutely full of saturated fat, but it is important to note that it is actually the type of saturated fat found in coconut oil that provides its potent health-boosting properties.
You see, whereas the fat found in most foods typically consists of long chain fatty acids (or LCFAs for short), the majority of fat found in coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids (or MCFAs for short).
MCFAs are a unique type of fatty acid that only contains between 6 and 12 carbon atoms (whereas LCFAs contain 12 to 21 carbon atoms). Because of their length, MCFAs are broken down and absorbed into the body extremely quickly after ingestion – where they are transported almost immediately to the liver.
Once these MCFAs are in the liver, they are immediately metabolized for energy. During this process, these unique little compounds known as ketones are produced as a by-product. We should note that this digestive process is significantly different from that of LCFAs, which are digested slowly and then stored within the body as fat after consumption.
It is actually this difference that is suggested to drive the health benefits of coconut oil.
Benefits of Coconut Oil - What Properties of Coconut Oil Make it Useful?
This process is quite unique for two different reasons.
Firstly, the fact that MCFAs break down and metabolize for energy immediately after consumption means that they are not stored for energy. This both causes an increase in metabolic rate and positively impacts various markers of metabolic health, essentially affecting the body in a very positive manner.
Secondly, the ketones produced during this process of metabolism actually interact with the cells of the brain, in which they are broken down within the brain to provide energy. This has been hypothesized to enhance cognitive function while also improving mental health and delaying the onset of age-related declines in cognition.
These two mechanisms are essentially what provide coconut oil with its health benefits when it’s consumed.
But interestingly, coconut oil has also been shown to have an impact on health when applied topically to the skin and hair.
You see, the MCFAs found in coconut oil have been shown to alter the lipid profile of the skin, causing subsequent improvements in skin health and quality. This interaction is very similar when applied to the hair, in that it causes a simultaneous increase in hair quality.
In conjunction with this, coconut oil also exhibits potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. With this in mind, when applied to the skin it has been suggested to stave off infection and even enhance the healing of wounds.
Types of Coconut Oil
Given its popularity, there are actually a number of different types of coconut oil available on the market, each with their own unique set of suggested health benefits.
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is pretty much what most people would consider regular coconut oil.
Refined coconut oil is made entirely from dried coconut meat, which is commonly known as copra. During the refining operation, this copra undergoes a very mild process of bleaching, which is performed to assist in eradicating any potential bacteria found in the coconut meat. While this activity may not sound all that pleasant, it is somewhat essential, as during the drying procedure copra is exposed to a number of undesirable contaminants that can impact health in a negative manner.
Once the coconut oil has been extracted from the dried coconut meat, it is treated with high heat to extract both the flavor and the smell of coconut from the oil – essentially ensuring that it contains the natural coconut scent that coconut oil is so very well renowned for.
Virgin Coconut Oil
A key alternative to refined coconut oil is virgin coconut oil (also described as ‘unrefined’ or ‘pure’ coconut oil).
In stark contrast to refined coconut oil, virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat, in which the coconut oil is extracted from the flesh by one of two processes – either through the quick-dry method or through a wet-mill process.
Quick drying, as its name suggests, is a process in which the coconut meat is dried rapidly through mechanical means. The oil is then pressed out of this dried coconut flesh using a mechanical press, creating a potent form of coconut oil.
Alternatively, to successfully undertake wet milling, the coconut meat is first processed into coconut milk. This milk is then boiled, strained, and entered into a centrifuge, which separates the milk from the oil, thus creating our final product.
Both of these processes are extremely quick, so the coconut oil does not need to undergo any bleaching. It also tends to retain more coconut flavor, as it is not exposed to any high temperatures during its production.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil is a somewhat unique type of coconut oil that is made from certain components found in regular coconut oil. As its name suggests, fractionated coconut oil is essentially a mere fraction of regular coconut oil, which has had all the LCFAs removed.
With this in mind, fractionated coconut oil contains strictly MCFAs – which as we know, are what essentially provide coconut oil with its suggested health benefits.
If we want to be a little more specific, once everything has been removed, fractionated coconut oil consists almost entirely of two specific MCFAs known as caprylic acid and carpic acid.
It may also be worth noting that as a result of this process fractionated coconut oil becomes completely liquid at room temperature, whereas normal coconut oil is solid at room temperature.
And finally, we have MCT oil.
MCT oil is essentially fractionated coconut oil, but during the production process, it receives the addition of another key MCFA know as lauric acid. Lauric acid is a key MCFA that has been shown to exhibit potent health-boosting effects on the human body.
With this in mind, MCT oil is often recommended to be optimal for consumption, whereas fractionated coconut oil is thought to offer us more benefits in topical applications.
What Coconut Oil is Best for External Uses?
When it comes to the application of coconut oil to the skin or hair, we have some immediate options.
Virgin coconut oil should be our first point of call as it offers some unique properties not observed within the other types of coconut oil due to the fact that it does not undergo any real process of refinement. As a result, it is full of potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
With this in mind, its application onto the skin offers the perfect way to not only enhance skin health and quality, but also to stave off skin-related disease, reduce the risk of infection, and even help treat a variety of wounds.
Within this, it also offers an excellent way to enhance hair health and quality.
Building on this a little further, our second point of call should be regular old refined coconut oil. While this type of coconut oil doesn’t contain some of the same health-boosting compounds that are unique to virgin coconut oil, it still provides us with a full array of natural fatty acids.
As a result, it offers the next best option for enhancing the health of both our skin and hair – although it is important to note that it may not offer some of the same skin healing benefits as virgin coconut oil
What Coconut Oil is Best for Internal Uses?
Alternate to our external use options, we would suggest that the best choices for internal uses are both fractionated coconut oil and MCT oil.
Each of these fantastic options contains only MCFAs – and as it is these compounds that have been shown to have the most profound impact on health specifically, it stands to reason that these two types of coconut oil offer us the most merit when consumed orally.
Out of these two options, MCT oil may have a slight advantage as it also contains lauric acid, which as we previously mentioned, offers us some additional health benefits (with a specific emphasis on cardiovascular health).
Alternatively, if these two options are unavailable to you, refined coconut oil is unquestionably your next best option. It contains an abundance of MCFAs, and therefore has the capacity to enhance health, but does so in a manner that will not introduce any nasty compounds into the body, as they have been removed completely during production.
Best Coconut Oil Product Reviews
Given the positive application of coconut oil in a variety of settings, we wanted to give you some great options that you can implement immediately. With this in mind, we have provided what we believe to be the best of each type of coconut oil product on the market at the moment.
- Great quality
- Organic products
- Healthiest option
- Most popular
- Extremely efficient
- Most potent
- 100% pure
- Highly effective
- Highly potent
- Potent MCFA
- Extremely versatile
When it comes to coconut oil, Nutiva is a brand that is truly leading from the front. Renowned for their great quality organic products and their use of exceptional production processes, anything they produce is worth its weight in gold – and fortunately for us, their refined coconut oil is no different.
Processed using an organic method of stream refining, this is one of the healthiest options available on the market.
This particular option by Viva Natural is one of the most popular virgin coconut oils on the market at the moment.
An extremely efficient cold pressing production technique creates it, and it is absolutely full of potent antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties as a result. If you are after a high-quality effective virgin coconut oil, then it’s hard to look past this one.
This fractionated coconut oil by Molivera Organics is one the most potent on the market. It is 100% pure and has been designed using the best production processes available at the moment.
It has built an excellent reputation for being a highly effective option and has been incredibly well received throughout the health industry.
Sports Research has been a favorite of ours for a very long time. This ultimately comes down to the fact that they consistently produce great quality products using the highest quality ingredients available to them – and their MCT oil is a prime example.
Created from highly potent coconut oil, this is a great option that is loaded with extremely potent MCFAs. In conjunction with this, it has been created in such a way that it blends incredibly well with shakes and drinks, making it an extremely versatile choice.
How to Use Coconut Oil?
As we have already discussed in some detail, there are two real ways to use coconut oil – it can be consumed, or it can be applied topically to the skin and hair. As you can imagine, both applications have their own little nuances, with some methods being much more effective than others.
This is exactly why we are going to outline the optimal way to use coconut oil in both scenarios.
How to Consume Coconut Oil
No matter what form of coconut oil you have opted to consume (remember, refined, fractionated, and MCT oil may be your best bets here), it’s in your interest to use it correctly. This essentially ensures that you maximize the health benefits associated with consuming coconut oil.
When you are cooking with coconut oil it’s important to keep the temperature around low or medium settings. While coconut oil does actually have quite a high burning temperature, extreme temperatures can still cause some alterations within the coconut oil itself, rendering it less effective.
If you are consuming your coconut oil in shakes and beverages, its application is extremely simple – just blend it up thoroughly using a good quality blender. We typically recommend a single tablespoon per serving as this quantity still provides all of the extremely potent health benefits associated with coconut oil consumption, but will not alter the taste or texture of the mixture you are combining it with, making it the perfect amount.
How to Apply Coconut Oil
When using coconut oil on the skin, we believe we have worked out the perfect method.
The first thing you need to do is lightly wash your face with warm water, and then gently dry it with a towel. Immediately after, place half a teaspoon of the oil into the palm of one hand and rub it with the other gently.
Once the oil is evenly spread across your hands, begin to apply it on the face with both palms. The trick here is to gently massage it into the skin without being too aggressive. Once you apply the oil evenly across the surface of the skin, wait 5-10 minutes for the oil to absorb into the skin, and wipe away any excess oil with a soft cotton towel. This provides the ideal method to moisturize and cleans the skin.
Now we move onto the hair.
It is important to note that here we want the coconut oil to be in liquid form, so if your coconut oil is solid you will need to heat it gently until it becomes completely liquid. You can do this easily in the microwave.
The first step is to gently wash your hair with warm water, and then only partially dry it, as coconut oil tends to apply best to damp hair. Proceed to massage the coconut oil onto your scalp and throughout your hair – obviously the amount you need to use is dependent upon how much hair you have, so it may take a little bit of guesswork the first time you do it.
Once you apply the coconut oil throughout, we recommend you comb your hair to distribute the coconut oil evenly. Be sure to also massage it into the roots of your hair, as this is an excellent way to promote a healthy scalp.
Once the coconut oil has been combed throughout your hair, leave it in for at least 30 minutes. It’s commonly suggested that the longer you leave the coconut oil in, the more it will condition your hair. With this in mind, we know people who choose to leave the oil in their hair overnight – although we believe 1-2 hours tends to be a bit of a sweet spot.
After the time is up, shampoo your hair to remove the coconut oil completely. Obviously using warm water will help facilitate this process.
List of Known Uses for Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has become extremely popular across the globe, where it is said to have an absurd number of different applications. With this in mind, we wanted to give you a comprehensive list outlining all of the known uses of coconut oil, in a number of different settings.
- Coconut oil is perfect for cooking, as it has a high burning temperature (stir-fry, anyone?)
- It is the perfect substitute for butter when baking
- Can be added easily to smoothies for a boost of energy
- Can be used to make a health-boosting salad dressing
- It makes the perfect substitute for traditional coffee creamer
- Can be used to make a healthy homemade mayonnaise
- It is ideal for seasoning cast iron skillets
- It can boost metabolism when added to food
- Can be used to create healthy snacks for kids (rolled oat balls are a great option)
- It can be mixed with a tablespoon of chia seeds to create a potent energy-boosting snack
- It is the perfect replacement for nasty vegetable oils in any recipe
- It offers the perfect face moisturizer
- It can be used as a deep skin cleanser
- You can whip it into a healthy coconut cream, perfect for adding to almost any breakfast dish
- You can consume it to enhance the absorption of calcium
- You can also eat it to enhance the absorption of magnesium
- It can be used to help remineralize your teeth
- It can be used as a toothpaste
- It can be used to create a potent oral health-boosting mouthwash
- Coconut oil is an immediate source of energy in any capacity
- It can assist weight loss when consumed daily
- It has been suggested to enhance sleep quality when consumed daily
- It has been suggested to help you fall asleep when taken an hour before bed
- If consumed with food, it is thought to boost thyroid function
- Some studies have shown it can help boost insulin sensitivity
- It is thought to improve cholesterol levels in the blood
- Some research suggests that the MCFAs it contains can help improve metabolic health
- Those same MCFAs are thought to help treat diabetes
- And enhance cardiovascular health
- They may also reduce your risk of heart disease
- When applied topically, coconut oil is thought to enhance wound healing
- It is thought to help treat scarred skin
- The healthy fats in coconut oil are thought to help improve mood
- This means it may have applications for those suffering from depression
- It may also offer a treatment for anxiety
- If taken daily it is thought to enhance hormone production
- It is thought to act as a hemorrhoid treatment when applied topically
- Some research suggests that it can boost circulation
- When taken by pregnant women it is thought to enhance the health of the mother and the baby
- The MCFAs in coconut oil are thought to enhance brain function
- This has been suggested to help stave off Alzheimer’s disease
- It may also reduce the risk of developing age-related declines in cognitive function
- It can be used on the skin as a simple lotion
- Coconut oil may act as a mild UV repellent
- It can be combined with shea butter for a potent skin butter
- It can be used in homemade deodorant
- Due to its antifungal properties, it is thought to offer an excellent method of treating athletes foot
- It can also improve dry sections of skin on the feet
- In fact, it can be applied to help treat dry sections of skin anywhere
- Coconut oil makes a great makeup remover
- It is thought to help improve age spots
- It’s also thought to help improve sun spots on the skin
- Coconut oil can be combined with essential oils to make the perfect skin lotion
- Liquid coconut oil makes an excellent massage oil
- It can be combined with sugar to make a potent body scrub
- It acts as a natural lip balm
- Can be applied to the lips daily to enhance lip health
- Can be used to create an amazing soap
- Works as a natural shaving cream
- Can also be used as an effective aftershave
- It can be used as a natural tanning lotion
- It is perfect for helping treat diaper rash
- It can be used to treat any rash
- Coconut oil is the perfect treatment for insect bites
- It makes the perfect insect repellent
- It can be combined with baking soda to create a natural whitening toothpaste
- You can apply it on your cuticles to help nail growth
- It can also be applied to the nails to enhance their health and durability
- It can be used as a completely natural baby lotion
- People suggest that it can be rubbed into the scalp regularly to stimulate hair growth
- It is also thought to help treat dandruff in this manner
- Or used in homemade shampoo
- It can help reduce hair frizziness (I think that’s a word...)
- It can be used to create a homemade laundry powder
- Coconut oil can be used to make homemade soap
- It can be combined with charcoal to create a deep cleansing soap
- Or combined with Aztec clay to create a seriously efficient body wash
- It can be used to treat shiny leather
- It is thought to help your pets deal with skin issues
- When added to dog food it is said to enhance coat quality
- While also improving the general health of your pets
- It can be applied to your hands at any time of day to keep them supple
- Or after washing the dishes to avoid developing dry skin
- When rubbed on the inside of your nose, coconut oil has been suggested to alleviate allergy symptoms
- Its antifungal properties are thought to have a positive impact on yeast infections
- And bacterial infections
- With this in mind, its consumption may even enhance immune system function
- Can help treat psoriasis
- It can also help treat eczema
- Applying to the gums is thought to boost gum health
- Can help reduce the nasty appearance of varicose veins
- Coconut oil can also help heal sunburn
- Adding it into hot tea is thought to help treat cold and flu
- Its anti-inflammatory properties can help treat arthritis
- It may also enhance joint health and assist in the treatment of joint pain
- Can help treat insect bites
- And help reduce the severity of plant-based toxins such as poison ivy
- It makes an excellent acne treatment
- And can even help soothe a sore throat
- It can be used in a homemade vapor rub
- It can be used to assist in the recovery of UTIs
- And it may also lessen the severity of some STIs during treatment
- It can be used in a salve for cracked heels
- Coconut oil offers an excellent cold sore treatment
- Consuming it daily has been suggested to improve allergy symptoms
- It has also been thought to enhance alertness
- Some people suggest it may assist in the treatment of ear infections
- It can replace lanolin cream to help soothe the nipples of nursing mothers
- Mothers can also use it to improve their milk quality (increasing vitamin D content)
- It can help soothe chicken pox
- It can be applied to stretch marks to help reduce their severity
- It can also be applied to the skin during pregnancy to avoid stretch mark formation
- It can help get rid of cradle cap in babies
- It can be combined with apple cider vinegar to create a lice treatment
Coconut Oil vs. Its Alternatives
Coconut oil offers a unique replacement for nearly every other form of fat. With that in mind, we wanted to outline where and how it differs from some of its most popular alternatives.
Coconut Oil vs. Butter
Butter was once considered an extremely unhealthy fat due to its high saturated fat content – something that has since been realized as being completely false. Now with this in mind, butter itself is comprised of ~80% fat, with the remainder being water.
Butter contains two key fatty acids known as conjugated linoleic fatty acids (CLA) and butyric acid. As a result, its consumption does have the potential to prepare the body for fat loss, while also demonstrating the capacity to improve digestive health slightly.
It is important to note that the moderate consumption of butter (similar to coconut oil) has also shown to improve cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors, and as such may have the ability to protect against heart disease and diabetes.
But, as it does not contain the same MCFAs as coconut oil, so it does not offer the same benefits in regards to weight loss, skin health, immune system function, and brain health.
Coconut Oil vs. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oils are quite simply the oil extracted from a number of different foods, including cottonseed, sunflower, soybean, rapeseed, and peanuts (amongst a number of others).
If we take a closer look at historical food consumption, we can see that vegetable oils were completely unavailable for human consumption well into the 20th century – ultimately because we didn’t have the technology available to produce it.
But as technology has advanced, we have applied it to various areas of food production, with somewhat mixed results – with vegetable oils being a prime example.
You see, to separate the oil from these foods, they need to undergo an extremely harsh extraction process. This process typically involves some form of bleaching and deodorizing, typically in conjunction with the use of highly toxic substances such as hexane - which is often used to form industrial grade glue. The resulting oil is often full to the brim with harmful polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and a multitude of other health-damaging compounds.
With this in mind, the consumption of vegetable oil has been shown to increase inflammation, increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, result in weight gain, and even contribute to hormone imbalances – in short, you should not consume them in any capacity.
This essentially makes them the complete opposite of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil vs. Ghee
Ghee is a type of concentrated butter, in which all the water and milk solids have been removed. As a result, ghee is much more stable at room temperature than many of its alternatives (and therefore much less likely to go rancid).
From a nutritional perspective, ghee offers us with an extremely potent source of both CLA and butyric acid. Similar to butter, it has the ability both enhance health and digestion, although it doesn’t have the ability to improve health to the same capacity as coconut oil.
Coconut Oil vs. MCT Oil
As we have already mentioned, MCT oil is ultimately a form of fractionated coconut oil, but it also contains an abundance of the unique MCFA lauric acid. As a result, it is thought to offer some additional cardiovascular benefits than traditional coconut oil, although it does not provide the same antifungal properties.
With this in mind, it is perfect for consumption in those individuals who are trying to enhance general health and function and even enhance weight loss.
Coconut Oil vs. Sunflower Oil
I can keep this one short and sweet – sunflower is a form of vegetable oil. It undergoes a very similar production process and is loaded with PUFAs. As a result, it is somewhat incomparable to coconut oil, as it does not have a single positive impact on health.
In short – avoid it at all cost.
Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil
In the simplest sense, olive oil is ultimately oil that is pressed from olives (the small fruits of the olive tree). This process is incredibly simple – the olives are pressed and the oil is extracted. As a result, olive oil contains zero chemical compounds and offers an excellent alternative to many other cooking oils.
In conjunction with this, olive oil is also extremely high in potent antioxidants and loaded with health-boosting monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).
Because of this, it is a great option that has the ability to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, stave off heart disease, reduce harmful inflammation, improve mental health, and even protect against age-related declines in cognition.
With all this in mind, it is somewhat comparable to coconut oil, although it has a much lower burning temperature. This makes it less effective for cooking and baking, suggesting its best use is in salad dressings and condiments.
Coconut Oil vs. Palm Oil
Palm oil comes from the fleshy fruit of oil palms – a unique fruit that has a very high fat composition.
In a very similar fashion to coconut oil, palm oil is also semi-solid at room temperature. However, its melting point is considerably higher than that of coconut oil. This is essentially due to the different fatty acid compositions of the two oils, in that palm oil contains much more saturated fat than coconut oil.
It is also important to note that palm oil is full of potent health-boosting antioxidants, which provide us with some additional benefits.
Through the actions of both these antioxidants and its potent fatty acids, palm oil has been shown to have some benefit in regards to both cardiovascular and mental health. Also, since it has a higher burning temperature than coconut oil, it may offer us a better alternative to cooking certain dishes.
Coconut Oil vs. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is actually very similar in composition to olive oil as it contains an abundance of heart-healthy MUFAs.
It similarly has the ability to enhance heart and metabolic health, reduce harmful inflammation, reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and even protect against dementia and cognitive decline.
Avocado oil also exhibits some potent anti-inflammatory activity that has been suggested to enhance skin health in a rather large way.
It is important to note that avocado is much less useful in cooking as it has a low burning temperature, and it doesn’t offer the same antifungal benefits that coconut oil does. As such its versatility is somewhat limited.
Coconut Oil vs. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk and coconut oil are obviously both derived from the meat of the coconut, albeit they are very different in composition.
Soaking the grated flesh of coconut in hot water makes coconut milk. As it soaks, cream is skimmed off the top of the liquid and the remaining liquid is strained. These steps are repeated until only coconut milk remains.
Coconut milk is full to the brim with potent nutrients, including vitamins A through to K, calcium, and magnesium, while also providing a potent dosage of healthy fats and antimicrobial compounds to the body.
Coconut milk acts as an ideal dairy replacement, and as such is used very differently from coconut oil, despite offering many of the same health benefits.
Coconut Oil vs. Shea Butter
Shea Butter is a cream-colored fatty substance that is derived from the nuts of the Shea Tree.
This particular butter has become increasingly popular as a skin treatment in recent times, where it has been suggested to enhance skin health and function, while also staving off skin disease. Shea butter is extremely dense in Vitamin A, while also being rich in anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor compounds.
As a result, it offers an excellent option for those looking to improve skin quality and has been suggested to even reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Shea butter has some slightly different qualities from coconut oil and is not really suitable for consumption. As such, its applications for health are not quite as profound, although many people recommend you apply it to the skin in conjunction with coconut oil to obtain an abundance of health benefits.
Coconut Oil vs. Argan Oil
Argan oil comes directly from Morocco, where it is derived from a unique nut found growing natively within the argan woodlands.
Argan oil is extremely rich in both oleic and linoleic fatty acids – both of which have been shown to have rather profound effects on skin health, while also acting as a potent treatment for acne-prone skin. In conjunction with this, it is also laden with potent antioxidants that can help fight off inflammation and any oxidative skin damage caused by UV rays. As a result, argan oil is an excellent option for those looking to find a natural product that strictly enhances skin health.
It is important to note that argan oil offers much less health benefit than coconut oil when consumed, limiting its versatility in a big way.
Coconut Oil vs. Castor Oil
Castor oil is a multi-purpose vegetable oil that people have used for thousands of years, made by extracting oil from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. These seeds (which are commonly known as castor beans) are overloaded with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds – which ultimately explain why it has been used in cosmetic medications for thousands of years.
With this in mind, it appears to offer us a good option when applied to the skin as a way of enhancing skin health and function, promoting wound healing, and even treating bacterial skin conditions – in fact, it actually appears very similar to coconut oil in this regard.
It is again important to note that castor oil appears to offer us much fewer health benefits than coconut oil when consumed, and as such can only be recommended for topical applications.
Coconut Oil vs. Almond Oil
Almonds are the edible seeds of the Prunus dulcis tree – more commonly known as the almond tree.
These almonds are full to the brim with potent MUFAs, and subsequently, have an abundance of health benefits. Also, given their ridiculously high fat content, they are absolutely ideal for the production of oil.
Almond oil appears to have two key applications. Firstly, it can be consumed, where it has been suggested to help improve cardiovascular health and enhance blood sugar levels. Secondly, it can be applied to the skin to enhance skin health and promote wound healing.
It appears to be comparable to coconut oil in this manner, although offers little ability to enhance immune system function or promote weight loss.
Coconut Oil vs. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is an oil-like wax extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant – a shrub that is found growing natively throughout the southwestern regions of the United States and across most of Mexico.
Jojoba oil contains an abundance of healthy fatty acids, and as such has an excellent capacity to both moisturize the hair and scalp and help in the treatment of dandruff. Moreover, as jojoba oil is extremely rich in those key vitamins and minerals that nourish hair (these include vitamin C, B, E, copper, and zinc), it has shown great potential as a method of enhancing hair quality and preventing hair loss.
In this manner, it may be even more potent than coconut oil – although it appears to offer very little benefit when consumed or applied to the skin.
Coconut Oil vs. Grapeseed Oil
As its name suggests, grapeseed oil comes directly from grape seeds, which are a by-product of winemaking.
Positively, grapeseed oil is high in vitamin E and contains an abundance of potent antioxidants. Unfortunately, this also comes with a large amount of PUFAs, which as we know, can have some rather negative implications for health when consumed in excess.
With this in mind, grapeseed oil appears to offer us a slightly better alternative than other vegetable oils but is nowhere near as good as coconut oil for cooking purposes.
Coconut Oil FAQ
As previously mentioned, coconut oil has been suggested to have many different applications, offering benefits in a variety of scenarios. Taking this into consideration, we wanted to take a good look at the research to determine where coconut oil truly offers us the most benefit (and where it may not).
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Skin?
A: Coconut oil is full to the brim with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, while also providing us with an extremely solid dosage of health-boosting fatty acids. As a result, its topical application to the skin has been shown to enhance skin hydration and improve skin health, while also enhancing its function considerably.
This has been shown to result in large improvement in skin quality, reducing wrinkles, blemishes, skin dryness, and scarring.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Hair?
A: In a very similar fashion to its impact on the skin, coconut oil has also been shown to have positive implications for hair health. With this in mind, it has demonstrated the capacity to hydrate the hair and improve the health of the scalp.
This has carryover effects, which can result in increased hair quality and hair density, resulting in stronger, more durable hair.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Teeth?
A: As we have already touched on at length, coconut oil contains potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. This has been shown to have a very positive impact on the health of your teeth, while also impacting various other aspects relating to oral hygiene.
By swishing coconut oil in your mouth you can help kill off any harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of plaque build-up. This has obvious repercussions for oral health, reducing the risk of developing gum and tooth disease, while also enhancing general tooth health.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Tanning?
A: Coconut oil has an excellent capacity to enhance skin health and quality – this may indirectly assist in its ability to deal with harmful UV rays, and can also result in healthier looking skin in a more general sense.
In saying that, there is no real evidence to suggest that coconut oil can actually darken or tan the skin in any capacity.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Dogs and Cats?
A: Given the fact that coconut oil is completely free of any harmful toxins or chemicals, it can be applied in nearly any capacity and any situation. This also means that it is perfectly safe for animals to both consume and apply topically.
In this manner, its consumption has been suggested to enhance pet health and function, and may also assist in treating skin disease in animals.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Thrush?
A: Thrush is a common condition caused by the overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast within the bowel and vagina. This yeast lives naturally in each of these areas, and for the most part, is quite harmless unless it grows and populates beyond normal levels – which can lead to redness, swelling, pain, and a nasty burning sensation during urination.
With this, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil mean that its consumption may have the capacity to kill any excess yeast responsible for the onset of thrush, although this may not work beyond mild cases.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Nails?
A: The powerful fatty acids found in coconut oil have demonstrated some capacity to enhance nail health and strength. These acids are essential to the formation of collagen, which is a key component of nails.
As such, its application has been suggested to increase nail density and durability, making them less likely to crack and break.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Babies?
A: Very similar to our discussion about animals, coconut oil is also absolutely suitable for topical application on both children and babies. This has come with its suggested ability to aid in child-specific issues such as cradle cap and chicken pox.
It is important to note that there is no evidence to support its consumption in children. As such, although it is most likely to be fine, we can’t recommend its use in this manner.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Burns?
A: Burns can be classified as first-, second-, or third-degree (moving from least severe to most severe).
First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of skin. Sunburn would be the perfect example. Second-degree burns typically extend one or two layers deeper, subsequently resulting in more severe pain, possibly even having a negative impact on both blood vessels and nerves.
Alternatively, third-degree burns require specialized care and can even result in hospitalization.
Coconut oil appears to have some merit in the treatment of first and second-degree burns, as it has exhibited some wound healing potential, as well as potent skin hydration qualities.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used for Hair Loss?
A: Coconut oil contains potent antibacterial properties. As such it appears to have the capacity to cleanse the scalp of dead skin, dirt, and harmful bacteria – all of which have the potential to block hair follicles and limit normal hair growth.
As a result, through its ability to cleanse the hair follicles, it may have the ability to improve the growth of hair and reduce the risk of hair loss occurring. With this in mind we should state that while it may enhance natural hair growth, it would not be able to promote the development of new hair follicles. As such it does not offer a treatment for baldness.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used to Whiten Teeth?
A: We have already explained why and how swishing coconut oil in your mouth you can help kill off any harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of plaque build-up. While this has obvious benefits for oral health, it has also been suggested to have a positive impact on the color of teeth, creating a whiter tone.
It is important to note that the research supporting this is very limited, and more human studies are needed before this can be said with any real certainty.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil Cause Acne?
A: Some people have suggested that the prolonged application of coconut oil to the skin may result in acne. Interestingly, this does not appear to be the case at all.
In fact, due to the antibacterial and cleansing qualities of coconut oil, it may have the opposite effect. You see, it has the ability to stop the spread of harmful bacteria from the pores of the skin, while also cleaning those pores of dirt and grime.
In doing so it can help in the treatment of acne, while also reducing its severity and risk of spreading considerably.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used as Sunscreen?
A: Coconut oil does exhibit some protective effects against the sun, however, these are much less than those provided by SPF 30 and SPF 50 graded sunscreens. As a result, we cannot recommend its use in this manner.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used as a Personal Lubricant?
A: One suggested the use of coconut oil is as a personal lubricant. While there is no scientific evidence to support its use in this manner, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from those within the health industry who believe that it works as effectively as pharmaceutical grade options.
Moreover, as it is completely organic there is no reason to suggest that it will have any negative repercussions. As such, if you wish to use it for this purpose, you should have no issues at all.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used to Remove Makeup?
A: There is a very simple answer to this very simple question – yes.
Coconut oil offers an excellent way to cleanse the skin in any capacity, and as a result, also offers a great choice when looking for an organic makeup remover. Given its ability to enhance skin health, it actually offers us a much better option than many of our more pharmaceutical grade alternatives, as it is also much gentler on the skin.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used to Treat Bacterial Vaginosis?
A: As many as one in four women experience bacterial vaginosis (BV) at some point during their lives, which actually makes it the most commonly occurring vaginal infection in existence. As its name suggests, BV is caused by an imbalance of the bacteria normally found in the vagina, in which healthy bacteria are overtaken by unhealthy and abnormal strains of bacteria.
This may lead to the development of grey vaginal discharge in conjunction with a strong and unpleasant odor.
Taking this into consideration, the antibacterial component of coconut oil suggests that it may offer an effective treatment for BV, however, there is no human evidence to suggest that this is indeed the case. As a result, we can only really recommend its use in conjunction with more traditional BV medications.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil Cause a UTI?
A: A urinary tract infection (UTI) describes a bacterial infection in any part of your unitary system, including the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and ureters. UTIs can be very painful and are often treated with powerful antibiotics.
As coconut oil does exhibit some potent antibacterial properties, it is likely to have the ability to protect against the development of UTIs, rather than cause them.
With this, it is important to note that coconut oil should only be used as a preventative measure against the formation of UTIs and not as a treatment. If you believe you have a UTI, more potent medical treatment is likely required.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used to Kill Fleas?
A: Interestingly, the lauric acid found in coconut oil has been shown to act as a potent insect repellent. It is believed to have the capacity to repel fleas and ticks, as well as numerous other insects.
As a result, it may indeed offer an effective treatment for a mild case of fleas. However, fleas are notoriously difficult to kill, and in more severe cases more extreme treatment options may be required.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used for Oil Pulling?
A: Oil pulling is an ancient health remedy stemming in Ayurvedic medicinal practices, which involves the use of natural substances to clean and detoxify the teeth and gums. It has long been thought to have the added effect of whitening the teeth naturally, with further evidence to suggest that it can also improve gum health.
In short, the act of oil pulling involves swishing oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes as a way to cause global improvement in oral health and hygiene. Given the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil, it provides us one of the most effective oils for oil pulling, causing a huge improvement in oral health in its entirety.
- Q: Can Coconut Oil be Used to Kill Candida?
A: Candida infection is an extremely common type of yeast infection that can affect the mouth, intestinal tract, and vagina. Candida itself is actually a type of fungus that, under normal circumstances, assists with nutrient absorption in the gut.
Unfortunately, if this fungus begins to overproduce it can actually break down the walls of the intestine and begin to penetrate the bloodstream, leading to both general illness and digestive dysfunction (among a host of other issues).
As coconut oil does have antibacterial properties, it has been suggested to have some capacity to assist in the treatment of candida, subsequently improving digestive health. However, in more severe cases, potent antibiotics are likely to be required.
- Q: Is Coconut Oil Good for Weight Loss?
A: We have already stated that the MCFAs found in coconut oil are broken down and metabolized for energy immediately after consumption – and as such, they are not stored for energy like other fatty acids. As a result, their consumption causes an immediate increase in metabolic rate.
Over time this can lead to a significant increase in daily energy expenditure, which can help promote weight loss. However, it is important to note that the coconut oil will not do it all for you – a change in diet and the inclusion of exercise is still essential to promote substantial weight loss.
- Q: Are Coconut Oil Pills as Effective as the Oil?
A: Coconut pills are essentially like any other medicinal capsules, pills, or tablet, in that they contain a concentrated form of an active ingredient – which in this scenario is a concentrated form of coconut oil.
While these pills offer a convenient method of obtaining the MCFAs found in coconut oil, they do not contain many of the antibacterial components found in regular coconut oil. As a result, they are not quite as effective as their more natural counterpart, although they will exhibit some ability to enhance metabolic and cardiovascular health.
- Q: Will Coconut Oil Clog Pores?
A: As much as it pains me to say it (and believe me when I say it does pain me), coconut oil may not be suitable for absolutely everyone. Coconut oil is quite thick in nature. As a result, it can actually clog the pores in those individuals who have large pores on their face, as well as those who tend to have naturally oily skin.
In these individuals, if the coconut oil has not been heated effectively (and is therefore quite thick) it can actually clog the pores of the skin, causing a decline in skin health and quality.
This means that these individuals should: a) heat coconut oil effectively before using as a cleanser, or b) find a thinner natural alternative.
- Q: Will Coconut Oil Go Rancid?
A: Fortunately for us, coconut oil typically has a shelf life of around two years. This is because coconut oil does not oxidize easily, and as it has inherent antimicrobial properties, it can protect itself from bacterial invasion.
It is important to note that coconut oil can go rancid after a long period of time. Fortunately, there are key signs to look for that identify rancid coconut oil quite easily and efficiently.
1. It becomes quite yellow in color
2. It becomes blotchy and loses its smooth consistency
3. It tastes and smells bitter and unpalatable
- Q: Is Coconut Oil a Laxative?
A: While numerous people within the health industry have suggested that the combination of coconut oil and tea can help act as a laxative and assist in the treatment of constipation, there is currently no evidence to suggest that this is indeed the case.
As a result, we can’t guarantee it will work in this manner – however, there is certainly no harm in trying.
Coconut oil truly is one of the most potent health boosters on the planet. It contains an abundance of healthy fats, while also exhibiting antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
With this in mind, it appears to aid in the treatment of a myriad of conditions, all while enhancing oral health, skin and hair quality, and global health and function.
The four products listed in this article offer what we believe to be the best coconut oil products on the market at the moment – all offer an excellent option in their own right. As always, if you have had any experience using coconut oil, we would love to hear about it, so drop us a comment and we will get back to you ASAP.
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