Coconut oil has emerged as a natural ingredient obsession—we’ve spied little jars in bathrooms and kitchens all across this great country of ours. But are you tapping into the full potential of coconut oil?Externally, “coconut oil soothes with vitamin E and has antibacterial properties, which can help with skin disorders,” says Stafford Broumand, M.D., a plastic surgeon and Associate Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, which may be converted to energy rather than fat. For cooking, it’s easy to swap in if you want to switch up flavors—coconut oil adds a lightly sweet, subtly nutty flavor—but keep in mind that although it comes from a plant, it’s a saturated fat and you don’t want to overdo it. You also want to make sure you’re not getting partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which is the artery-clogging trans fat kind. Stick to virgin coconut oil instead.When it’s all said and done, coconut oil is an amazing multi-tasker for health, beauty and cooking. Here are 14 ways to use it to improve your life, from the inside and out.
- Spread it over your toast. When avocado feels too predictable, try a dollop of coconut oil to mix up your go-to breakfast routine. In solid form, it’s as easy to use as butter.
- Blend it in your smoothie. A spoonful will give you an added dose of vitamin E while enhancing the nuttiness of a tropical banana/almond milk drink.
- Pour it over popcorn. To tszuj up your favorite movie night treat, drizzle a few tablespoons of warm coconut oil over your bowl. The creamy flavor is the perfect complement to the corn kettle’s natural sweetness.
- Swap it out for vegetable oil. Add it to your brownie mix for a secret ingredient your friends will be dying to know. Use liquified coconut oil (heat as needed) and sub in at a one-to-one ratio.
- Pump up your coffee. Doctors and scientists have mixed reviews over the health benefits of “bulletproof coffee,” but it’s becoming more and more popular as a way to ramp up energy, naturally.
- Apply it to your hair. In many cultures, coconut oil is used as a mask to strengthen strands and boost shine. To make your own, heat four tablespoons of coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds and massage the oil into your scalp, combing through to ends. Apply a shower cap, and leave it in for a few hours or overnight. Shampoo and rinse.
- Use it as a highlighter. Warm a tiny bit between your fingers and dab it over your cheekbones and browbones for a super subtle, light-catching sheen.
- Rub it on stretch marks. Apply it to your belly and thighs morning and night to help the appearance of lines.
- Add it to your bathtub. A few tablespoons of melted oil in a warm bath will keep your skin moisturized, and the tropical perfume will transport your senses.
- Smooth it over your baby’s bottom. It calms and heals rashes without irritating tender, sensitive skin.
- Massage it into cuticles. Between manis, keep your hands tidy by rubbing oil into nail beds.
- Moisturize. You can swap out your lotion or body oil for the vitamin E-rich oil.
- Calm eczema. Flare-ups are due to a breakdown of skin’s outer barrier. Prevent them by massaging coconut oil on your skin to replenish lipids (the natural moisture in your skin).
Use it for oil pulling. There are a few small studies showing that oil pulling can be beneficial for oral health.