What are the real benefits of coconut oil? We asked the experts…

Coconut oil has been getting a bad rep recently. Once the nation’s most-beloved new health food trend, coconut oil quickly fell from grace after the American Heart Association (AHA) warned that the so-called superfood contains the same level of saturated fat as beef dripping (yes, really). This means that just two tablespoons of coconut oil would equal around 20g of saturated fat. That’s the entire recommended daily amount for women.

benefits of coconut oil

Actress Chrissy Teigen, wife of singer John Legend, tucks into some Vita Coco Coconut Oil on toast

However, before you chuck your pot of coconut oil away, it’s worth remembering that unlike lard and other saturated fats, there are numerous benefits of coconut oil for both culinary and non-culinary uses. For example, as highlighted by Holland & Barrett Nutritionist Emily Rollason, “Coconut oil contains a number of disease-fighting nutrients that could help strengthen the immune system.”

The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, has also been vocal about the benefits of saturated fats in coconut oil for years: “Saturated fats such as coconut oil are far more stable at high temperatures, making them perfect for cooking with. As you will see, I use coconut oil in almost all my recipes” says Joe.

Read more: Joe Wicks recipes: The Body Coach’s best #leanin15 fat-burning meals

Emily Rollason also adds, “For years we have been told saturated fat is bad news for our hearts. However recent research shows that coconut oil can help keep our ticker healthy. It has been shown to improve the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol (a marker for cardiovascular disease) by raising HDL levels.”

So, what are the real benefits of coconut oil?

Well, these are our top uses for coconut oil if you’re still not sure about eating the stuff, but want to make the most of it’s great properties and goodness!

Coconut oil pulling for healthy teeth

Coconut oil benefits also extend to helping clean and whiten teeth whilst reducing tooth decay, according to research. “It helps to promote the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium, which in turn helps to strengthen teeth, making them more resistant to decay” Holland & Barrett say.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has also tried this method, and if her pearly white smile is anything to go by, it can cleary work a charm! “I just started oil pulling, which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white.”

Coconut oil on face make-up remover

Make like Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone and use the non-chemical compounds of coconut oil to take your make-up off at night. To do this, simple scoop a little coconut oil out of the pot, and warm it between your fingers. Then, massage the oil into your skin in a circular motion before using cotton pads or a clean flannel to wipe the oil away. Your make-up should come away with the oil, leaving your skin feeling fresh and product free.

Coconut oil for skin

Coconut oil is also incredibly moisturising. So, it’s great for your skin! And, as it’s a natural oil, it’s ideal for dry and sensitive skin too.

Emily Rollason explains, “Known for its nourishing and hydrating properties, virgin coconut oil also helps to rejuvenate dry and tired skin, leaving it healthy, radiant and deeply moisturised. The small molecular structure of coconut oil allows for easy absorption through the skin giving it a soft, smooth texture, making it an ideal ointment for the relief of dry, rough skin and problem areas like eczema and psoriasis.”

Coconut oil hair mask for healthy hair

Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at SuperfoodUK, recommends using coconut oil to condition and strength your hair by making a hair mask with it.

“Use coconut oil as a hair mask or pre-wash conditioner for dry or dull hair. Gently melt a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil, let it cool until lukewarm and work through dampened hair (before washing). Leave for 20 minutes – or up to one hour – then wash out with your normal shampoo. You may not need to use your normal conditioner afterwards. If you have an oily scalp, then don’t apply to the roots; but if you have a dry or flaky scalp, try applying right up to the scalp, and massage in. Some people recommend mixing coconut oil with honey, in about a 1 to 1 ratio or a 2 to 1 ratio of coconut oil to honey.”

Coconut oil DIY body scrub

Thanks to beauty bloggers, the trend for trying your own all-natural beauty products at home as swept the nation over the last few years. Here Shona Wilinson explains how you can make your own body scrub at home using coconut oil: “Make an easy and cheap home-made body scrub. Gently melt a couple of tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in a ramekin, allow to cool until just lukewarm and mix in approximately the same amount of a fine sugar such as caster sugar. You can add in a couple of drops of pure essential oil such as lavender if desired.”