Everything you need to know about coconut oilUpdate: 11/15/2017
Why is coconut oil so popular?
Coconut oil is considered a great alternative to vegetable oils, and rightfully so, because despite being a source of saturated fats, recent studies have now suggested that virgin coconut oil is actually good for you.
Yes, it contains certain types of saturated fats, but these saturated fats behave in a way that help the body. Lauric acid, for instance, is a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) which could help keep healthy cholesterol levels, aid proper digestion and boost your skin and hair.
How much of it should you have in a day?
As with all foods, coconut oil should be enjoyed in moderation. In small doses, it can be used in a variety of ways; as part of the ingredients for healthy baking, or as added flavour for other foods and even as part of your hair care regimen. Anywhere between 1 to 3 tablespoons is enough per day. If you don't have high cholesterol or blood pressure, you can go for 4 tablespoons a day.
It's quite high in calories – does that make it bad for people trying to lose weight?
The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil are not stored in the body, but are instead broken down and used for energy production. So although it is high in calories, because of the MCFAs, coconut oil could aid in the weight loss process. Once again, it is important to note that it is wise to consume it in small doses.
What can it do for your health?
Thanks to the lauric acid, plus components like capric and caprylic acid, coconut oil has antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties, which means it can help strengthen the immune system.
The antibacterial qualities of coconut oil's many acids can also help to improve digestion thanks to its ability to deal with various fungi and bacteria in the body. Lauric acids in coconut oil could also help to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
Coconut oil is also an antioxidant which when used on the outside of the body, could help to promote healthy hair and skin as well as further boost the immune system.
What are some of the ways you can eat it?
The beauty of coconut oil, with its slightly sweet vanilla-like flavour, is that it can be used to enhance the taste of a variety of foods and treats without being unhealthy. For example, coconut oil can be a good replacement for vegetable oils in frying, it can be used to add flavour to baked treats such as cupcakes and it can even be used on toast instead of butter. Put it as a dressing on your salad, in your morning smoothie and if you're looking for a bit of change, you can even add a spoonful to your tea or coffee. But if you're not keen on the taste, you can also can get the unflavoured oil in stores.