Over the years, coconut oil has fast turned into an inexpensive replacement for olive oil, whether it’s in the kitchen or on your dressing table. Often touted as one of the super foods that can make a positive difference to your health and help you in controlling diseases such as eczema, diabetes, and even breast cancer when consumed orally, coconut oil is not without side effects (1).
In fact, you can almost say that despite its benefits for your hair, skin, and nails, coconut oil is bad for you. That too, in more ways than one. And this is not even a tall claim. Various scientific studies actually back it up!
What The Studies Say
Let’s take a look at the scientific evidence against the case of coconut oil:
According to a report published by the American Heart Association or the AHA, coconut oil should not be consumed orally. The reason for this is that coconut oil is rich in saturated fats. The AHA found out after analyzing more than a hundred previously published studies that date as far back as the 1950s, saturated fats are responsible for increasing bad cholesterol levels or LDL. High LDL levels can lead to cardiovascular diseases. In fact, coconut oil, in particular, was responsible for raising LDL levels even in 7 controlled trials, which means it’s definitely bad for you (2), (3).
The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease Advisory Board backs up the AHA’s recommendation and also advises against consuming coconut oil orally due to its contribution to the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases (4).
So, if you thought that the saturated fat content of coconut oil was lower in comparison to other cooking oils, think again. When compared to greasy sources of saturated fats such as butter, beef fat, and pork lard, coconut oil contained the highest amount of saturated fats – a whopping 82%, according to the report published by the AHA. That is a hell lot of fat!
The lead author of the report released by AHA, Frank Sacks admits that he cannot comprehend why people refer to coconut oil as a healthier alternative, especially when it is almost a 100% fat. However, he goes on to put the blame for that notion not on the common people but on the common culture of weight loss, where a lot of wrong information is handed out to unsuspecting people.
And one of the sources where this wrong information came from was a professor at Columbia University, whose research claimed that the high medium-chain triglyceride content of coconut oil could speed up metabolism and lead to weight loss (5).
Marie Pierre St-Onge, the lead researcher, has taken responsibility for the widespread misuse of this fact. However, she also mentioned that her research had made use of designer coconut oil, which is not available in local grocery stores. This basically means that ordinary coconut oil does not contain the same properties and you cannot use it to aid weight loss. And neither should you consume it orally on a regular basis. Now the big question that arises is…
What Do You Do With That Big Can Of Coconut Oil You Just Got The Other Day?
Well, for starters, don’t throw it out. Even if you cannot add it to your food or use it as a cooking medium, coconut oil still has plenty of other uses, which can prove to be very handy. Here are a few unusual uses of coconut oil:
1. Natural Moisturizer
If you’re not fond of using chemicals on your skin, you can use coconut oil as an after-shower body moisturizer. It can help soothe skin dryness without leaving that sticky feeling behind! Simply warm up a teaspoon of coconut oil with your palms to apply.
2. Cure For Split Ends
Coconut oil can deeply penetrate your hair shaft, thereby preventing damage. This also makes it the perfect remedy to smoothen your split ends. Just apply a pea-sized amount on the ends of your hair and leave it on for frizz-free tresses.
3. Quick Remedy For Bug Bites, Rashes And More
Loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, you can use coconut oil to soothe common and mild skin irritations such as bumps, rashes, bug bites, etc. (6). If you get a minor burn or insect bite, simply rub a small amount of coconut oil on the affected area to get relief.
4. Steel Polish
This is a very practical use of coconut oil and also the safest too, considering you’re not ingesting it anyway. Stainless steel can lose its shine over the course of time. To get the sheen back, apply a small amount of coconut oil on the desired item in long strokes. Then buff the oil with the help of a microfiber cloth to get that sparkling shine!
So, while the moral of the story is that you should not ingest coconut oil very frequently due to health concerns, you can still use it for other purposes. As long as you don’t eat it, coconut oil is perfectly safe for topical usage on skin and hair.