Finding the right information to answer the question “is coconut oil good or bad for our health?” is not easy. As often happens in health matters, there are as many proponents as there are opponents of coconut oil.
Usually, I first search for proper information and then draw conclusions based on what I consider to be in my personal interest.
In this article, I explain the health claims that can be found for coconut oil and what my own experiences and considerations are with it.
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Table of contents
Virgin coconut oil has a melting range of around 24–26 °C. In the Netherlands – my homeland – the oil is usually solidified, and therefore a fat. This hard coconut oil is often called coconut butter. Where I now live in Spain, coconut oil is solidified in the winter and liquid in the summer.
Refined and hardened coconut oil, a lower quality, also known as copra oil, melts at 30 to 37 °C.
The claims made on labels are often not true. Marketing terms such as extra, 100% natural, 100% organic, are not protected by law.
Pesticides are not necessary for coconuts, so anyone can claim to provide 100% organic coconut oil. However, the process to make the oil must also be organic and responsible. Proper certification seems to be lacking most of the time.
How to recognize organic quality coconut oil?
- An even, almost white color in solid-state and transparent in a liquid state;
- In a glass jar, so we can see the color;
- Smooth texture, not friable;
- Has melted when the temperature is more than 26 degrees C;
- Virgin (cold-pressed) and provided with an ISO number;
- Unprocessed (unrefined);
- Certified and registered organic label;
- Country of origin is clear;
- The manufacturer or supplier is mentioned on the jar;
- The production process of the coconut oil can be checked (on the website or in a brochure).
Coconut oil is good for our health
Coconut oil has long been touted as a natural health remedy as well as a healthy addition to any diet. It is said it’s better to use for cooking than olive oil because it can be heated to a higher temperature.
Tom and I don’t cook with coconut oil, because we like the taste of virgin olive oil better. Yet, I do use coconut oil a lot to prevent eczema on my legs and in between my toes (swimmer’s eczema or athlete’s foot).
It helps me against eczema, but what I love most is the foot massage I give myself to rub the oil in. That is so relaxing!
Coconut oil is bad for our health
In recent history, we have been informed that unsaturated fats are good for us and saturated fats are bad. And coconut oil is at least 90% saturated fat.
While saturated fats may be harder to burn and worse when we eat an excessive amount of fats, they are more natural and better for our body. With the caveat that there are different types of saturated fat and most coconut oil on the market has the bad kind of saturated fat.
The low-quality coconut oil doesn’t contain nutrients anymore and sometimes even contains soot or mold, depending on the drying process used.
Coconut oil is a great multipurpose skincare item. Like many other oils, it is great to use for massages, but also provides moisture for our skin. As I said earlier, it can be used to treat skin infections like acne and eczema. It contains antioxidants that help neutralize skin-damaging free radicals and has even been shown to help prevent wrinkles!
Massage coconut oil gently into the scalp or even use it as a conditioner. Not only is oil treatment good for our hair, but it also has essential nutrients to keep our hair strong and healthy. It will help stimulate hair growth, moisturize our hair and scalp, and leave our hair looking beautifully shiny.
It is said to be a better treatment against lice and their eggs than the usual oil that can be bought at the drugstore against a lice infestation.
In my youth, my hair was rather greasy, but now that I am aging it is often too dry. Especially in the hot Spanish summers. An occasional coconut oil treatment feels great on my hair.
To help ease fatigue and regenerate ourselves, apply coconut oil to the head and then gently massage. We’ll feel better and ready to go.
While it does contain saturated fats, good quality coconut oil also contains quite a bit of lauric acid, which helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Coconut oil can help prevent other heart issues as well.
Yes, coconut oil contains fat (all oils do), but coconut oil actually has less fat than many commonly used cooking oils. Coconut oil contains vitamin A, vitamin E, minerals, lecithin, carotenoids, polyphenols, and phytosterols. It is said that coconut oil’s energy is better processed by the body.
Coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal characteristics that help us work on a natural immune system.
The same properties in coconut oil that keep us from getting sick can also help heal or slow illnesses once we get them. Coconut oil not only has antibacterial properties to help fight normal infections but it has also been shown to help viral infections including HIV.
It helps when taken internally, but it can also be applied to cuts and bruises to speed healing and form a protective barrier to prevent infection and other irritants from getting in.
The antibacterial properties of coconut oil also help soothe irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
Is coconut oil good or bad?
There are quite a few health benefits of coconut oil that have been discovered. Coconut oil is believed to do everything from preventing liver disease to strengthening our teeth.
But as mentioned, there are also warnings against coconut oil. It would be interesting to know what oil the tests were applied to and how the good quality oil would come out.
I tend to believe the advocates of coconut oil. In general, there is far too little research into quality differences between conventional and organic farming and production.
Do you use coconut oil? Let us know in the comment box below.