Is Coconut Oil Actually Good for You?

Leandra Medine | March 15, 2016

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Someone once told me to eat a spoonful of coconut oil everyday and like a compliant American, I said “okay” without so much as questioning whether or not coconut oil actually maintained the magical health benefits this person insinuated it did. We were in a heated discussion about bowels, or a lack thereof, when she smeared some moisturizer on her hands, made a fist and said: can you fit your finger through there? It was not phallic at all, I assure you, but when I put my finger through, I said, “Yeah, but that’s because of the hand cream,” to which she replied, “Exactly. Coconut oil is hand cream for your anus.”

I’m kidding she didn’t say it so explicitly but shit man (pun intended!), I wish she had.

Anyway, the point is this: I started eating a spoonful of coconut oil everyday, felt a little like I was snacking on lip gloss and also like there was no way this wasn’t packing junk into the hood of my car or the artist formerly known as FUPA, so I got it together and started to research.

First things first: That spoonful will not support the proliferation of my FUPA; on the contrary, because coconut oil is said to increase your energy levels, it might actually help you burn fat. (This is a moot point because there is so much saturated fat in coconut oil but it’s okay because saturated fat is not actually bad for you so long as it’s not inside your Philly cheesesteak.)

But also, there are apparently a shit ton of acids in this stuff that make you less prone to die or have your teeth decay, etc., etc., yadi yadi yadi yoo. Important, no question, but kind of boring and difficult to connect with. So here’s exactly how coconut oil benefited me:

1. Aforementioned woman was right, it is like hand cream for the back crotch. Bathroom woes, be gone. (How to benefit: eat it.)

1a. Apparently it also promotes vaginal health, which I know because Emily Weiss told me that and I pretty much believe everything she says. (How to benefit: eat it.)

2. My hair is shiny as fuck. Which I think makes sense because isn’t that kind of what Moroccan oil is? (How to benefit: apply it pre-shower then wash it out.)

3. My facial pores seem and feel tighter, thus mitigating the atrocious purple bags that live under my eyeballs. (How to benefit: eat it.)

3b. Also, I use it as leg cream, which is a cheaper alternative to designer, scented creams and it gets the job done. I’d just stay away from park slides following application if I were you. That shit gets real fast, real quick. (How to benefit: apply like lotion.)

4. I was wary of attributing a decreased level in stressed out-ness to eating coconut oil but as fate and Google would have it, the antioxidant properties of coconut oil actually do affect one’s level of stress. So much quicker than meditation, no? (How to benefit: eat it.)

5. Finally, I’ve been using it to cook, which has made my food taste a little bit like suntan lotion but in a good way. It’s weird with eggs, unless you’re making my magical pancakes, so I wouldn’t try that at home, and mixes great with vegetables, mint and rice. All together. (How to benefit: cook with it.)

Nutiva virgin oil is the one people like most — I for one, like the bottle of Island Fresh’s version. If you order it and find that when it comes, it maintains the consistency of Vaseline, do not fret, that is normal. It’s more like an oily paste than anything. I realize that doesn’t sound appetizing, but things that are actually good for you rarely are.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Sylvia Toledano pearl cuff.

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  • Julia Fischer

    Alright, so I know how to cook with it, and I know how to smear it on my skin, but how do you just eat it straight? Do you smear it on bread? Or do you grab a spoon and dive in like a tub of ice cream?

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      Hitting the nail on the head, Julia, with the tub of ice cream analogy. Dive on in! You can also think of it as diving into yogurt, if that somehow makes it better.

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    • Dadi Shroff

      Yup just dive in.

    • Harling Ross

      OR, if you don’t like the texture eating it like that, you can always put a spoonful into a smoothie and blend it up with other stuff

    • http://www.cococakeland.com Coco Cake Land

      I use it like butter on a piece of toast, underneath almond butter and fresh raspberries. I still can’t eat seem to ingest it on its own …

    • Leandra Medine

      this morning i smeared it on an apple for the first time evor. usually just eat it with a spoon. it’s gross

      • MT

        Thank you for being real about the fact that it’s gross. I don’t like the flavor of coconut, and I hate the texture, so if you were trying to sell this idea as thuogh I’m eating a spoon of nutella, NOPE.

        I wonder what I could mix it with that would mask the flavor.

        • just_parsley

          Someone mentioned a smoothie… if you don’t do protein drinks, just blend it w/some frozen fruit or a banana and vanilla and that would do great. Citrus flavors really hide it well too.

          The key is to blend it thoroughly though… then it adds to the frothiness/body of the shake and you don’t get little chunks. I’ve tried blending it that way w/coffee on days I don’t feel like having a protein drink. You’ve got to keep it warm though and drink it before it gets cold otherwise it’s nasty.

          • MT

            I do smoothie from time to time, but I generally make them the night before and stick them in the fridge to have for breakfast, so I feel like that probably wouldn’t work? I have heard of the coffee thing tho… maybe I give that a go.

          • Lisa

            Oooh, adding it to hot coffee is genius! It’ll stay in its liquid form, and maybe just give a little bit of coconut flavor. I know people put butter in their coffee, so maybe the greasiness isn’t too bad. This is my hope, anyway. I’m trying to work myself up to eating it after years and years of just using it cosmetically.

          • just_parsley

            If you go this route and don’t want to put your coffee in a blender to blend well, I strongly recommend one of those handheld, battery operated frothers. I have something called an aerolatte (I’m sure there are other brands of varying quality) that works well to blend it.

            I have never been able to stomach the concept of the “bulletproof” coffee (i.e., putting butter in your coffee) but for some reason coconut oil is okay. 🙂

            Good luck y’all!

  • Dadi Shroff

    Why do you apply it in your hair and then wash out immediately ? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of oiling your hair? I normally apply Moroccan oil post shampoo and conditioning ? Am I doing it wrong ? Is it to be done before ?

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      This may be a personal thing, but I have found that applying Moroccan oil regularly sort of “builds up” over time and that every few weeks or so I have to take a Moroccan oil break. (Side note if you are a blonde and color your hair Moroccan oil turns it very brassy)…..I have found coconut oil to have the same hydrating effects in a more natural way, but since it is “heavier” better to wash out

      • Dadi Shroff

        Totally with you on the Moroccan oil build up. Sometimes I use it as an overnight hair masque and then wash out the next day. But definitely going to try this immediate pre shampoo routine with coconut oil too.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Sort of what Yvonne said — I put it on my dry hair as a mask, sit around with it in a bun then wash it out. My hair would be super mad at me if I left it in all day but this all just depends on hair type. If you’re hair is super dry it’s probably heaven for it to stay in.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Been using it for oil pulling ever since I read here about it and wouldn’t want to live without it. Coconut oil is also Real Hair Magic (I apply it onto dry hair and leave it there for half a day then rinse minus conditioner – I do that 4, 5 times a year).

    But eating it raw? Eaurrrgh … Hm ….

    • Amelia Diamond

      Do you like oil pulling?? Why!! Tell me what it did for you I tried but couldn’t keep up with it, would get too grossed out.

      • Dadi Shroff

        I’d be interested to know about oil pulling too. Did you brush as per usual after or before oil pulling ?

      • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

        Almost puked while trying oil pulling! I don’t know if eating a spoonful of coconut oil won’t trigger gag reflex, but I am SO going to try tonight. I need to de-stress (but not puke, so fingers crossed).

      • Charlotte

        Don’t give up on the oil pulling! My dental hygienist asked my sister, me and a family friend who also goes to her as well what made our gums, teeth etc. remarkably different (read: better and healthier) than the last time we saw her (I go see her every 4 months).

        I use unscented coconot oil, because I really don’t like the taste of coconut. The texture is terrible at first. But – and this description is probably gross you out even more – if you ‘scrape’ it with a small tea spoon it dissolves much faster and you have to keep swooshing like Nike would.

        I do this for about 20 minutes in the morning (whilst packing my bag or staring at my closet). Then I spit it out (never in the sink… I have a glass with a zip lock bag in it so you can throw it away easily). Swoosh again with some water and then just brush my teeth.

        It sounds like a hell of chore but if you have the routine down it’s not. The trick for me was choosing an unscented one.

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        There is one main reason: I do it after having drunk my morning coffee and before I brush my teeth. I am quite aware this wasn’t meant to be a post-coffee cleanse, but: it absorbes and does away with the acid and any other things left behind …

  • Aydan

    I use coconut oil to shave my legs and put it in my bath! It def leaves residue, which means post bath tub cleaning, but it leaves my skin so soft and allows me to skip the post bath moisturize session!!

    • Lua Jane

      I did that with almond oil, and it worked too.

  • Lua Jane

    I’m so doing it! I mean it can’t actually harm me and can only do good. I tried pulling a year ago, I think, and have used it ( warmed up and liquid) as a hair mask every now and then, but am not consistent. Well, no more of that.
    To all the girls talking about hair I have also switched to dark brown henna for the mostly natural hair color reviving, and love the results, so strongly recomend it to everyone with hair color ranging from red to black.

    • Lisa

      Wait what? I need to Google this henna situation. I’m intrigued!

      • Lua Jane

        My hair hasn’t been this shiny since it’s virginal version, some 12 years ago (I’m old). So I’m all about it.

    • Elisabeth

      What do I do if my hair is on the blonde side?

      • Senka

        I red somewhere that blonde henna exists too. I never tried it my self. Pure henna gives only red color and shine, and I read that dark ones are made by adding certain amount of indigo powder. That said I don’t know how blonde ones would be made, and I do think it’s more for strawberry, slightly coppery blondes than platinum/sand ones, since it does leave the hair certain reddish glint.

  • http://www.adriannagrezak.com Adrianna

    My mother gave me a large jar of coconut oil from TJMaxx. I found that it was a superior oil to pan fry my Trader Joe’s goyza. (No sticking!)

    I don’t know if I experienced any dramatic health changes, but my hair looks healthy, I didn’t gain weight, and all my pipes work well.

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

    i put coconut oil on a random patch of dry skin on my eye lid. it really did the trick.

    • Quinn Halman

      also good for dogs’ paws!

      • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

        winston will be PUMPED

  • http://www.cherry-mag.com CHERRYMAG

    so so interesting!

    xx
    http://www.cherry-mag.com

  • http://www.the-adventures-of-maria.blogspot.co.uk/ Maria

    I love coconut oil!! I put it in my cooking, I use it as moisturiser and I put it in my hair. I’m not sure I could bring myself to eat some straight out of the tub every day. I did that once.. I was curious… and it was like eating.. well oil. It was wrong.

  • Hunter

    I have a friend that blends it up with his coffee beans!

  • laila h

    I’ve always been Team Olive Oil (for cooking, hair, dry skin, sore throat, just for fun, etc) but I’m definitely gonna cheat on it and try out coconut oil. Team Unfaithful

  • Caroline Jones

    I cook practically everything in coco oil (I can usually smell it while it cooks, but it doesn’t actually have much of a taste to me once the food is fully cooked). However, it does have a lower smoke point (read here:http://jonbarron.org/diet-and-nutrition/healthiest-cooking-oil-chart-smoke-points#.Vuhe7VsrK70) than some oils, but for the most part its fine with food you are making on your stove top. If you don’t like eating it by the spoonful just add it to your smoothies!

    Also, for any pet owners, coco oil is a great treat that you can use as a substitute for peanut butter. Just as it is good for you, coco oil is also good as it is for if you dog. if your pup has allergies or any skin problems it is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that can help. I would imagine it would be hard to lather your dog in coco oil… and maybe a little weird, but they can get all the benefits by eating it. I give my 30 lbs. dog a tablespoon or two per week and he is totally obsessed.

  • l:ly

    THIS IS PERFECT BECAUSE TODAY I TRIED TO DO OIL PULLING WITH COCONUT OIL AND LET ME TELL YOU OMG. I put a spoonfull in to my mouth. Like a big healthy glob. It sat on my tongue and I immediately started making that nasty retching noise my cat makes when he is about to barf (he has IBS poor bb) but OH MY GOD I COULDN’T EVEN SWISH IT FOR 5 SECONDS. I spit it out and clawed at my tongue for like 20 minutes. I thought I was going to die. HOW DO YOU EVEN EAT IT I WOULD LITERALLY VOM OMFG. PLEASE TEACH ME I GUESS????

    • starryhye

      LOL SAME! Even the thought of eating a spoonful of coconut oil is enough to make me queasy!

  • starryhye

    Nope nope nope nope nope.

  • Jen

    Love coconut oil! I put coconut oil in my smoothie every morning and i also add it to bone broth! It’s so good! I also sometimes melt coconut butter and eat that over berries or a sliced apple and it’s delicious! Oil pulling is awesome, but you have to do it for a few weeks in order to get results.

  • DMSF

    I melt a bit on my hands – like, 1/8th of 1/8th of a teaspoon – then smooth it over my dry, coarse hair and leave it on. Shine shine shine. TMI side note: my filipino grandmother slathered me in the stuff when I was an infant.

  • Magriffi

    If I feel like I’m going to have a night where I’m not going to sleep well, I will eat a tablespoon of it and it instantaneously makes me sleepy. It’s gross and hard to swallow but it’s well worth a good nights sleep.

  • BK

    i physically cannot bring myself to put coconut oil in my mouth – it feels similar to how I imagine other peoples’ phlegm feels in the oral cavity. I do moisturise my face with it and mix it with palmer’s to use as a body moisturiser (I find it too heavy and greasy on its own). I do use it whilst wearing my Sylvia Toledano cuff, but have noted it as an innovative concept

  • http://instagram.com/k8flynn wonderskirt

    i cook with coco oil and use it for oil pulling but used topically it breaks me out like none other. just a word of warning to acne prone folks – proceed with caution, if might f up your skin.

  • chouette

    Replaced the ol’ Neutrogena oil that is basically a huge bottle of parabens with a huge jar of coconut oil and haven’t looked back. Haven’t been eating it but now want to try. If you can make me try mules you can make me try anything.

    • Laila

      I also used to be anti-mule until MR!

  • Caitlin

    Firstly – I love Man Repeller and don’t mean to be negative. And I’m not a nutritionist myself – just like to keep well read on these topics. But I think its important for people to not just jump onto every new trendy “health” bandwagon that they read about. As far as I can tell, consuming coconut oil has not been proven to have any of the magical health benefits that people promise. Omega-3 acids have been proven to make hair shinier and skin healthier, of which there are none in coconut oil. Haven’t seen any research about coconut oil and vaginal health.

    In terms of weight loss – it is possible that the sorts of fats found in coconut oil may be burnt differently to other types of fats, which could possibly help to promote weight loss if it was substiuted for other fats (although still don’t think coconut oil specifically has been shown to have this effect in humans). But if you’re just adding a spoonful to your normal diet, it’s probably not going to help. Plus as Leandra said, coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which although recently has been shown to not be as bad as originally thought, is still not as good for your heart health as unsaturated fats (this article explains it well http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good). So you’re probably better off eating another oil, like olive oil.

    I can see how it might be good for topical application to skin and lips though, being a solid.

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      It is always a good idea to remain cautios about health trends – I agree wholeheartedly.

      I found a website that contains links to publications affirming the stated pros of coconut oil: https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

      I am not going to check them as I use coconut oil only for my teeth and my hair and just because it feels so good, but I thought I’d add the link should anyone want to read the text and check the publications included.

      • Caitlin

        Thanks alcessa, interesting site. To me he seems to be picking and choosing his studies (some of which don’t really seem very good – for example a couple didn’t have a control group so really cant be relied on) and a couple of his arguments are a bit misleading. But yeah, it seems like it could be good for skin and possibly teeth, don’t think it would hurt anyway! It’s not like I think its dangerous or anything in small amounts either – I’d just be careful about consuming a lot of it and expecting miracles. Here’s a good article summarising all of the available literature http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nbu.12188/epdf.

        • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

          Thank you very much! 🙂

    • Caitlin_DD

      I love you–another Caitlin who came to ask for the science.

    • http://talesonsilk.com/ Tales On Silk

      Thank you for this… I am no nutritionist myself and do enjoy reading Manrepeller a lot. However, coming from a culture that used coconut oil long before it became a fad, I thought I could add my 2 cents. Coconut oil and other coconut based products have been used in parts of India for decades. There are communities in the south of India who find use for every part of the coconut including the husk of a dry coconut. They only cook in coconut oil. It has its benefits, but it isnt a miracle worker. If coconut oil was as good as lot of people claim it is, then south indians would have no heart issues, health problems etc. That is certainly not the case. As for benefits for skin, hair etc.. as children, almost all of the girls in my school had their mums put coconut oil in their hair. Some of us ended up with thicker, shinier hair, some of us did not – despite the same coconut oil being used. So, it may not work for everyone in the same way. It is also known to cause dandruff because it freezes up at low temperatures and settles in the scalp. Like you said, it might help to do a bit more research before jumping on to the next big health fad.
      http://www.etsy.com/shop/talesonsilk
      http://www.talesonsilk.com

  • http://www.mgluxurymarket.com María Geronico

    Amazing! If it really helps the bathroom moment, I definitely have to try it! it’s nor very common in spain… but my international asiatic neighborhood probably has it.

    Check out my new branded blog!! http://www.mgluxurymarket.com (I’m very proud of it!)

  • Luxe Lis

    The comments are hilarious?. I’ve been eating and using a tbsp of coconut oil, beauty,teeth for years. I feel fantastic! Cheers to a long happy healthy life! ????

  • Shweta Shah

    It is the only thing that gets my make up off without a trace.

    http://www.gourmetrunway.com

    • Lily Ascher

      I rub coconut oil all over before I shower and that leaves just enough residue on skin after you have dried yourself – otherwise you get greasy spots on your clothes, furniture etc. The only negative I get a bit of psorisis on my skin from time to time and the oil seems to aggravate it and make it worse.

  • Sabrina O’Driscoll

    I had a few false starts with coconut oil. I tried cooking with it and was assured the taste would be ‘mild’ by the liar in the health shop. It was in it’s fuck mild, I cooked an egg in it and nearly got sick. 6 months later I saw Biona organic coconut oil and thought I’d give it another go, I have no idea how they manage it but there is no taste. I lash it into everything. Converted!

  • Lisa

    Been using it as a lotion for years. I have bad eczema and had tried literally every lotion on the market, even the eczema lotion that’s for babies. One night I was up late, desperately searching forums for help. Coconut oil was mentioned somewhere (this was several years ago, before it was more common to use it for anything other than cooking), and I thought “what the hell, I’ll try anything.” Now, it’s the only thing I use on my body. It’s amazing, plus in the summer, it makes your body gleam like a goddess! In fact, after using it cosmetically for so long, it’s weird to me to use as a supplement, but if Leandra says it’ll grease up the old colon, maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

  • Lisa

    So right now I’m trying it in hot coffee, and it’s not terrible. Plus, my lips become more moisturized with every sip. If there’s a noticeable improvement in my bowel function, this could be a regular thing.

  • brujasbite

    I just cooked (aka fried) some sweet plantains in it, with ginger and sugar. Maybe cancels out the health factor but soooo good. Also cooked a tuna steak in it, and didn’t really taste coconutty after!

  • Jessica Williams

    DON’T USE AS LUBE if you care about keeping yo pH in check– you don’t want to learn that one the hard way.

  • Vi Huynh

    my office has one of those mini nutri-bullets and one day i poured my cup of (nasty office) coffee in with a tbsp of coconut oil and some coconut creamer.. it was literally actually god-honestly life-changing. frothy, delicious, satiating, incredible!!!!!

  • http://www.jet-lag-trips.com/ Christel

    I love it. For me, it smells so good and drive me back to my memories…

  • dré

    I love this post! So great! I love coconut oil 🙂
    xo dré

    http://www.flightoffeather.com

  • nicle

    You should try Jax Coco, more natural than the drugstore stuff!

  • Jenny

    I take a spoon most mornings
    – good for my candidia ; yeast over growth
    – good for fungal infections; proven to break down the fugal barriers- toe nails/finger nails- honestly the difference after 2 uses(rub on)
    – psaroisis / dandruff ; the difference after a week of over night treatments (every second night) cutting out booze helps too
    – condition of my hair has been commented on repeatedly commented on; weak hair and years of dying had it fried. Looks fantastic…

  • Brandy Johnson

    To eat it – try this http://mycoconutkitchen.com . I love the Roasty Toasty! I just eat a spoonful from the jar most of the time – sometimes put it on toast.

  • Dadi Shroff

    When you say a spoonful is that a teaspoon or tablespoon? Teaspoon is usually 5ml. Tablespoon I’m actually not sure. Asking because I’m wondering if a teaspoon may be too little to have any real noticeable effect.

    • Leandra Medine

      pretty sure its tablespoon!

  • http://alexamjohnson.com Alexa M Johnson

    Coconut oil is everything. It’s the only moisturizer I use on my face and body!

    alexamjohnson.com

  • http://billieloves.wix.com/billie-loves Billie Ann Richardson

    taste good, and makes my face glow , such a cool found!

  • anasha

    its also a nice, safe alternative to store-bought lube!

  • Elif Nimet

    Did a coconut oil hair mask the other night…I woke up with the driest, frizziest hair in the world. It was brutal. I have about 46 photos to prove it. Tons of leave in conditioner tamed it, and it is fine now, but never again!

  • Kate

    Oh my god it doesn’t have to be a gross thing! Coconut oil is delicious but not by itself! Put it in bliss balls. Bake with it. It makes great vegan fudge blended up with dates, cacao and other good stuff. Eating it by itself is a missed opportunity for deliciousness.