Fun With Coconut Oil

Everyone is talking about coconut oil these days. Its health benefits, its myriad uses.

I caved and bought some. Now, I wasn’t really thinking when I bought my first container. I didn’t do any research, I’d just heard about it. And this is what I bought:

There’s nothing wrong with it, necessarily, except it’s not virgin coconut oil. After further research, I found it’s not the best option for what I wanted, which was all the things that would improve my health and possibly help me lose weight. It is completely taste- and odor-free. I’m keeping it and using it for an alternative to olive oil.

Then I found Dr. Bronner’s. Dr. Bronner’s is not taste- and odor-free. It tastes mildly coconut-y and smells divine. That’s when I started adding it to my coffee every morning. One tablespoon. Now, you have to keep stirring it up because the oil separates, so that’s a bit weird. Or you can use the AeroLatte thingamajig you bought years ago for lattes and emulsify the whole thing. Works wonders.

So then I started reading more about the many uses of coconut oil, which is a very weird substance, btw. It’s solid below 76 degrees and liquid above. And in the 70-degree range, it’s very, very soft and semi liquid-y. When it was 60 in my house this winter, I practically had to chip it out of the jar.

Then I got all crunchy hippie. And I brushed my teeth with it. Included in the long list of coconut oil uses was toothpaste, that it can remineralize your teeth and help prevent cavities. I was skeptical, but thought I could give it a shot.

And wow. My teeth felt ah-mazing. They were smooth and felt as clean as if I’d gone to the dentist. Now, it’s a bit more time-consuming than using toothpaste, because you have to reload the toothbrush a couple times (in my opinion anyway, because this stuff melts like mad). But it worked! My teeth feel great! I’ve continued to use Sensodyne most of the time, however, just because it’s easier. Coconut oil might not remineralize my teeth, but it does make them feel fantastic. And every time my teeth have felt a bit sensitive, I go back to coconut oil for a few days, and they’re back to feeling great.

So I ate it. I brushed my teeth with it. What else could I possibly do with it?

I hate lotion. Absolutely hate how it feels. I’m a very tactile person, and having the slimy stuff on my hands makes me very uncomfortable. So I rubbed coconut oil on any dry skin (mostly the backs of my hands). It soaked in fairly quickly and made my hands wonderfully soft. The only downside is that after a while it smells like butter instead of coconut. Blech.

A local restaurant had a salt scrub for hand washing in the restroom. The sign said it was antibacterial, and considering it was very chunky with no pooling oil, I figured it was coconut oil. So I made my own with coconut oil and Celtic sea salt. Melt the coconut oil first in the microwave, but it doesn’t take long (maybe 15 seconds, depending on how warm your house is in the first place). Do this so the salt and oil can incorporate well. It will re-solidify if the ambient temperature is cool enough.

It’s also great for yeast infections. That’s all I’ll say about that one.

There are literally more than 100 uses for coconut oil. Can it be bad for you? Of course. It is full of fat (medium-chain fatty acids), and 1 tablespoon has 120 calories. Can it help with weight loss? Maybe. When I started my weight loss plan, I wasn’t losing any weight with the coconut oil, so I cut it out. Then I gained another pound (and ended up over where I started). So back in it went. I make sure I measure it out now, and I always include it in the MyFitnessPal calorie counter. I hate counting calories, but I’m trying to lose weight for a challenge at work.

I’ve lost several inches and about 10 lbs. I’m also running, though, so obviously the weight loss is not all on the coconut oil.

P.S. I’m not saying Dr. Bronner’s is the best. In fact, my current backup is Nutiva. It’s also delicious, and it’s slightly cheaper than DB.

I have about 10 lbs. left to go. Maybe coconut oil can help. Maybe it’s yet another trend. My scale will let you know.

Oh, and one last thing, two years ago, my cholesterol level was 271. In case you don’t know, that’s dangerous territory, especially when there is heart disease in my family. Two weeks ago, my cholesterol was 195 – under 200 for the first time in about five years. Again, I can’t give all the credit to coconut oil. I have no doubt that taking better care of myself is a huge factor.

I’m not a doctor or a health care professional, so I’m making no recommendations. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet or exercise regime.


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