5 Reasons Why Coconut Oil is Amazing for Your Hair, Skin and Body

Did we mention Miranda Kerr swears by it?
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Elizabeth Owen
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Did we mention Miranda Kerr swears by it?
Coconut oil Miranda Kerr

Miranda Kerr is hot. She just had a baby and three months later is modelling in a bikini. I mean, c'mon. That's not fair. Hot body, gorgeous hair, beautiful skin. A beauty trifecta you might say.

One of her beauty secrets? Coconut oil. I first discovered it through her KORA Organics blog in a post on her favourite supps. After reading it, I went immediately to the store to buy a jar. I personally love coconuts—the smell, the taste, the tropical vacation memories they conjure—so for me it was a no-brainer, and I've noticed pretty immediate results from using it.

Miranda's obsessed with it. I'm obsessed with it. You should try it. (Or at least check out these awesome benefits.)

Coconut oil can help you lose weight

Yes, people have said a lot of bad things about coconut oil’s high saturated fat content—but not all saturated fats are created equal. Really, the ones you need to watch out for are the hydrogenated oils (hidden in a multitude of products like crackers, margarine and peanut butter). Don’t even get me started on what eating that stuff can do to your body. Coconut oil, on the other hand, isn't the bad guy we've made him out to be. Check out this New York Times article—a lot of the studies that claimed it was unhealthy were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil. Virgin oil, which hasn't been chemically treated, is a whole different story. But more on that in a sec.

coconut

Because coconut is made up of medium-chain fatty acids (as opposed to something like steak or cheese which is made of large-chain fatty acids), the body is able to dissolve the fat from coconut oil easily into the blood. These molecules are then burned immediately by the liver for energy. Dr. Mercola, alternative-health guru, says that the oil helps boost your metabolism, makes you feel full longer, improves thyroid function, and is quickly burned for energy. I’ve definitely noticed some of these things, and while I’m not trying to lose weight, I haven’t gained any either.

According to her blog, the stunning Ms. Kerr eats four whole tablespoons teaspoons of coconut oil a day. (*Turns out, Miranda was misquoted originally. Thanks, ladies, for pointing this out!) She uses it on salads, in her cooking and in her green tea. And while I’m betting she has a personal trainer, I guarantee the coconut oil helps. Oh, and my guarantee may not mean anything, but Dr. Oz says the oil has super powers, and clearly he’s legit (he's friends with Oprah, guys).

Coconut oil has anti-aging properties

As Michelle explained in this post, free radical damage causes aging (read: wrinkles). Coconut oil's antioxidant effects can help protect against them—much like Vitamin E does—as well as heal and repair damaged skin. The medium-chain fatty acids are also easily absorbed, can strengthen connective tissue and help with exfoliation. Bonus: coconut oil also stimulates thyroid function and helps cholesterol to be converted into anti-aging steroids that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Coconut oil makes your hair grow—and repairs damage

Dang if it doesn't make your hair grow like nobody's business! If you’re like me and go to new hairstylists (dumb!) who decide to chop off the front pieces of your hair into lady sideburns, this is helpful information. I'm also currently sporting two inches of roots—someone asked me the other day if I was going for the Ombré effect. Um, nope. Not intentionally.

coconut oil hair mask

Coconut oil is also great as a deep conditioner; I leave it in overnight (skip the roots), wash it out in the morning, and BAM! Miranda hair (or at least I like to think so).

Coconut oil can help you get better skin

Since I started eating coconut oil every morning, my skin has become a lot more hydrated. I also slather the oil on my body after showering (you may have to walk around the house in the nude as it absorbs) and after being out in the sun. I personally don’t use it on my face, but lots do, and have seen major improvements in their skin. (I've noticed that even just taking it internally has lessened my breakouts and evened out my skin tone.) Coconut oil can also treat psoriasis, eczema, rosacea—even wrinkles.

Coconut oil is great eats

Coconut oil is amazing because you can also use it to cook and bake with, and because it’s saturated, it’s the safest oil to use at high temperatures. My favourite way to eat it is melted onto toast (instead of butter) and spooning a huge scoop into my oatbran in the mornings. Because I eat so much of it and I love the taste and smell of coconut, I use virgin coconut oil.

virgin coconut oil

It's solid at room temp, or in the fridge where it should ideally be kept, but melts beautifully when you warm it up. If you want less coconut taste in something you’re cooking, skip the virgin oil and try regular coconut oil. Refined coconut oil tastes even less coconutty, and while this may sound good to some, this form also contains far fewer proteins and minerals. According to Dr. Mercola, heat, chemical solvents and bleaching agents are often used in the refining process, which is why he (and I) suggest being choosy!

You ideally want to look for a coconut oil that is certified organic, made with fresh coconuts (virgin oil), unrefined, non-hydrogenated and made without heat-processing. I use Omega Nutrition Virgin Coconut Oil and am really happy with it, but there are lots of other great brands out there! Check out Whole Foods or any health food store to explore your options.

As for cooking with it, I can personally vouch for this Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe. OMG, de-licious! I also have a killer recipe for Coconut Apple Crisp:

Coconut Apple Crisp

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice 4 Granny Smith apples into bite-sized pieces. (I leave the skin on cause I’m crazy like that and want the extra fibre, but feel free to remove it for a more traditional crisp texture.)
  3. Mix apple pieces in a bowl with 3 tbsp agave syrup (or ¼ cup brown sugar), 2 tsp vanilla, 3 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg and a squirt of lemon juice.
  4. Rub a baking dish with coconut oil to coat it.
  5. Spread the apple mixture in the baking dish.
  6. In another bowl, combine ¼ cup softened coconut oil, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup raw oats. Mix lightly.
  7. Crumble the topping onto the apples, and place in the oven.

OPTIONAL: Add chopped walnuts to the topping for some Omega 3’s. For more coconut flavour, you can also add 1/3 cup dried coconut flakes to the apple mixture.

Bake for 45 mins or until topping is golden and fruit is bubbling. Serve warm with Luna & Larry’s Naked Coconut ice cream.

Elizabeth Oborne is a Vancouver-based writer and holistic nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethedits.

Tell us:

Do the beauty and health benefits of coconut oil blow your mind or what?
Ever tried it as a skin moisturizer or hair treatment?
What about in your diet—do you think you'll start cooking with it or adding it to oatmeal or tea?