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4 Life-Changing Benefits of Coconut Oil

By Krista Elliott

When it comes to nutrition news, it seems as though we might finally be getting a bit of common sense. For so many years, we'd see blanket pronouncements declaring a certain type of food "bad." Fat was bad, so everybody switched to margarine and fat-free cookies. Carbs were bad, so people ate fried eggs and bacon every morning for breakfast. Oh, but then eggs were bad. And then they were good again. 

Now, however, we seem to be getting a little bit more sensible, realizing that yes, some carbs are unhealthy, but some are packed with fiber and nutrients. And some fats are harmful to the body, while others are good for your brain and cholesterol levels. 

One such fat that has risen to the top, so to speak, is coconut oil. Coconut oil has long been a beauty and health staple for women in tropical locales like the Carribbean and the Pacific Islands. From there, its benefits were passed along to North America, primarily among women of color. But it's only recently that the benefits of coconut oil have become more widely known and praised in our society. 

The Miracle of Coconut Oil

First off, it's important to note that for maximum benefit, get the extra-virgin oil that has been processed as little as possible. The oil will be solid at room temperature, but will liquify in warmer weather. 

Lowered Cholesterol: Unlike many fats, the saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of lauric acid. Studies show that this type of fat improves cholesterol levels when compared to trans fats, making it a healthier option for cooking. 

Fungus, Begone!: Coconut oil is thought to have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. Combine that with its moisturizing power, and you have an effective foot cream (albeit a very slippery one, so save it for bedtime with socks over the top, OK?) If you have a toenail fungus problem, a bit of tea tree oil mixed in with some coconut oil is a potent remedy. And if baby has a sore bum, which can be caused by the acid in his urine or by a skin fungus, coconut oil is a natural alternative to diaper cream. 

In Every Season: If you like cooking with cast iron, coconut oil makes a marvelous oil for re-seasoning your pan. It doesn't go rancid like many other oils. Plus, it's vegan, which makes it a wondeful alternative to lard for any sort of frying. 

Beauty Balm: Coconut oil is a longtime beauty staple for many women. Whether you use it for smoothing frizz and split ends, as a balm for dry elbows or lips, or as an effective cuticle cream, you'll easily find it turning into one of the most indespensible items in your bathroom. If you, like me, are a curlyhead, coconut oil is wonderful for locking out humidity and keeping curls from going poofy midday. (And a thin smoothing of it can preserve your blowout beautifully.) 

So give coconut oil a try and see how this tropical multitasker can work for you! 

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