Rub It On Your Skin or Eat It: The Benefits of Coconut Oil

August 14, 2013   46 Comments

You know how you were the last to find out that EVERYONE was getting their hair cut like Jennifer Anniston in “Friends”?

Coconut Oil Benefits

Okay, you guys were probably all over that the first season. It took me about 7 seasons to ask for the famous haircut and the hair stylist rolled her eyes.

Back in June, I wrote a post - The Healthiest Cooking Oils - and the first comment was from Jess:

How about coconut oil? I've seen a lot lately that says it's a great alternative to all of the above choices.

Snack Girl, again asleep at the wheel. Actually, in my defense, I was looking at the oils that you can find next to the salad dressings, etc. Virgin coconut oil, at least at my store, can be found in the “Natural Foods” section and costs quite a bit more than more common oils ($7 for 14 ounces).

Is it worth it?

From Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World

“Most of the studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which researchers used because they needed to raise the cholesterol levels of their rabbits in order to collect certain data,” Dr. Brenna said. “Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is a different thing in terms of a health risk perspective. And maybe it isn’t so bad for you after all.”

Virgin coconut oil is not as processed as other oils and people use it for everything. Put in it your coffee, rub it on your skin, use it as diaper cream, prevent stretch marks, vegan baking, mayonnaise....(see 101 Uses For Coconut Oil).

Wow! This stuff is awesome!

There is even a scientific study that shows that coconut oil (2 tablespoons a day) seems to promote a reduction in belly fat (Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on Abdominal Obesity). The saturated fat in coconut oil is different than the saturated fat in butter (or other animal products). Coconut oil is considered heart healthy.

I use it in baked goods (see below recipe) because it adds sweetness and has a wonderful texture. I haven’t tried it for cooking stir-frys or other savory foods, yet. As with anything (especially food with surprising health claims), I use it in moderation.

Finally, be sure to buy "virgin" because it has been cold-pressed. The minute you apply heat to this stuff it changes.

Do you use virgin coconut oil? What recipes do you use it for?

Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 fl oz

Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 fl oz

  $16.25 ($1.02 / Fl Oz) Buy on

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Other posts you might like:

Healthy Cooking Oils

The Healthiest Cooking Oils

Snack Girl has been asked about the healthiest oils a bunch of times and keeps dodging the question....


A Cookie Without Dairy or Egg (It is STILL Delicious!)

If you read Snack Girl enough, you know that I like a challenge. I had seen vegan cookies at cafes and thought, "no butter, no eggs, equals a disgusting cookie"....

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I use coconut oil more for our skin but I need to start using it in recipes. I whip it in my stand mixer and make body butter. I also make sugar scrub with lime juice and lime peel. I sometimes wash my face with coconut oil and use at night around my eyes. My husband uses it as bug itch relief and he swears it even repels bugs.

on August 14, 2013

Coconut oil, oh how I love thee...let me count the ways!

I first found it when searching for gallbladder friendly foods and discovered cooking with it didn't trigger an attack. It's great to sauté shrimp. Lately I've learned it's a wonderful moisturizer for my feet to keep those cracked heels at bay.

on August 14, 2013

I use organic, virgin coconut oil in my hair and in body butters. It's one of the only oils that penetrate the hair follicle, and it's made my hair really soft and shiny. It's super moisturizing for your skin. I love it!

on August 14, 2013

I started using it about a month ago, I am into my second jar and I am hooked. I have used it as a deep moisturizer for my hair, used it for dry cracked heels and I put a Tablespoon in my morning protein shake. I have read that it helps with Crohns disease which is my daily hurtle. I also use it as a mascara remover. I did bake chocolate chip cookies with it too, they were amazing :) I love the stuff.

on August 14, 2013

It only cost $6.99 at Trader Joes the last time I was there :-)

on August 14, 2013

I love coconut and coconut oil--but how do they get around the fact that it's still 87% saturated fat? I thought saturated fat was the big no-no in terms of heart disease?

on August 14, 2013

I wrote about the benefits of coconut oil in my book, FibroWHYalgia, years ago. I had not one, but two different editors try to strike my reference to it claiming they thought I'd included it "accidentally." Sometimes, it just takes time, repetition, and experience for something to become mainstream. The benefits of coconut are widespread and written about extensively.

Sue Ingebretson

on August 14, 2013

If it changes when exposed to heat, is it a good idea to cook with it? I know you are not supposed to use olive oil at high heats for this very reason.

on August 14, 2013

I've just started using it too. So far I love it!

on August 14, 2013

I am so glad you wrote this. I keep seeing it everywhere and trying to research it has given me a headache. Thank you for doing the homework!

on August 14, 2013

I eat a spoonful straight from the jar. I once had tar on my pants and used coconut oil to remove it. After several different products it was the only thing to remove the tar. You just have to rub a little Dawn in before washing to remove any possible stain.

I use it for oil pulling (

My friends use it on their hair and skin. I put some on crackers or bread.

on August 14, 2013

If it removes tar, I'm not sure I want to eat it!

on August 14, 2013

I have been using coconut oil for shaving my legs for months and I love it. It's cheaper than shave cream (you don't use as much) and it saves a step of me having to mositurize my legs too. Also, using it as a makeup remover has been great too.

on August 14, 2013

I love coconut oil and use it like everyone that commented but I also give my dog a spoon of coconut oil in his food. Makes their coat nice and shiny!!

on August 14, 2013

I use it to make my own toothpaste - mixed with baking soda & an essential oil for flavor

on August 14, 2013

I put it in my smoothie every morning. My face and overall skin has never been more clear and happier.

on August 14, 2013

luv it 4-ever! COOK ON LOWER THAN MEDUIM HEAT for best results, maybe under 345? cuz like olive oil it does best at a bit lower temp than other oils. coconut oil is a staple in our house!

on August 14, 2013

I use in baked breads and in stir frys (and wherever else I see fit) love that stuff!

on August 14, 2013

Sue F - Coconut Oil is a better option for cooking than Olive Oil because it has a higher smoking point. I use it all the time for making popcorn (Yum!) and for cooking.

on August 14, 2013

So I got on the coconut oil trend awhile back--but never used it. Yup, bought a big jar in Amish country and it's been sitting in my food storage ever since--does it go bad? Can I still use it, if say, it's been a year (or more;)?

on August 14, 2013

I've been using coconut oil for about 5 years. Among all the other things that I use it for (skin, cooking, etc.) I give a tsp. a day to my doggies. They love it! When I first started using CO, I had to purchase it online, but now I buy it at Costco at a great savings.

on August 14, 2013

I put 1T in my protein shake with ice and love the texture and taste of the combination.

on August 14, 2013

I love cooking with coconut oil b/c then I get to slather my hands with it too…most recently I used it to make this "Coconut Crack" which was a huge hit with the family:

on August 14, 2013

Olive oil will also remove tar and gummy labels too? I don't plan to stop consuming it just because it has many uses. Many oils are good for several things including furniture, skin, and I even lube my creaky door hinges with olive oil spray. Since using coconut oil and coconut sugar, I personally have lost a few pounds. These products appear to be more hunger satisfying and I eat less. Careful when cooking with it as it does smoke when too hot.

Here is info from U of California:…


"Although the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, they do not pose cardiovascular risk as do the longer saturated fatty acids. This exception is especially true for virgin coconut oil."…

This site apparently belongs to Barlean's. They produce several products including coconut and flax oils. So, this info is self-serving but they do cite papers and publications supporting their claims. The info is interesting and they provide a disclaimer immediately upon reaching their site.

35 countries produce coconut and palm products so these appear to be sustainable products. We also use coconut sugar but not for everything as it has a caramel taste. From personal experience it has not raised my blood sugar. I appreciate all the suggestions people have posted on uses I hope to try. So, maybe it is just personally applied experience that determines what works best for each individual.

on August 14, 2013

I have been using coconut oil for cooking, baking,a skin moisturizer and on my dry lips. I have had a problem with indoor spiders this year and I recently saw on t.v. that a mixture of white vinegar and coconut oil would eliminate these pests. I will be trying this to see if this is another great use of this fabulous oil.

on August 14, 2013

I'm not clear either. She says she uses it in baking but the very next paragraph says to buy virgin because applying heat changes the properties. How do you use it in baking without applying heat?

on August 14, 2013

Thanks very much for the info and the link, I_Fortuna, I appreciate it!

on August 14, 2013

A great article about the coconut oil craze. A little bit scientific, but I think it just reminds us to remember that despite the reported health benefits we still have to keep our intake in control.

on August 14, 2013

I bought coconut oil that's not virgin (no scent), not hydrogenated...and use that on my skin. Makes my skin soft, supple, and when not overly applied not oily! What I love about it the best, it's non-scented and I can wear any of my perfume. I also use it for cooking, and when I want to stay on a fat-burning/fasting mode in the morning, I take a TB of virgin coconut oil as a preworkout before I go for a run/gym. Careful to work your way up to the amount, may cause GI until you get used to it.

on August 14, 2013

I add a bit to warm quinoa and then mix in some berries for a snack or breakfast.

on August 14, 2013

I use it for alot of the uses mentioned in the other comments but I also use it as lubricant for those intimate moments. ;)

on August 14, 2013

Like a commenter before me, I bought some about 6 months ago and have yet to crack open the jar. There is now oil floating onto of the creamy solid. Does it go bad/rancid like other oils? I have it in the cupboard with my olive oil (which I use most of the time). Should it be refrigerated instead? After hearing more I want to use it now, but am afraid. I'm thinking of trying to bake muffins with it to start.

on August 14, 2013

I use the refined for my hair, body and face and the unrefined for cooking.

on August 14, 2013

I just got some from Trader Joe's an d I love it!! No more butter for us. I made crepes with it and they were wonderful.

on August 15, 2013

I am another who bought some awhile ago and never opened it. After reading this post yesterday, I decided it was time!

Like someone previously, mine does not look like the picture, it's mostly oil; the bottom has all the white stuck to it. There IS an expiration date, but it's not until next month.

It was expensive - it's organic, virgin coconut oil - so I hate to throw it away, but I don't know if it's still good or not.

I'm such a coconut oil newbie!!

on August 15, 2013

Hi, Snack-Girl.

I love the site, but I was a little disappointed in this post. No mainstream organization will go as far as to say " Coconut oil is considered heart healthy." (

It may be better than animal-based fats, but it still has a heck of a lot of saturated fat in it, and the evidence just isn't there yet to make these kinds of statements.

on August 15, 2013

If you read the links I have provided, it explains that there are different kinds of saturated fat. Coconut oil is a medium chain saturated fat and does not oxidize when heated.

All oils oxidize when heated except coconut oil and palm oil.

Coconut oil can take the heat without oxidizing and becoming a danger in creating cholesterol. It does not alter chemically from the research I have read.

In my opinion, after much research, I believe that coconut oil is safer and healthier to cook with.

on August 15, 2013

I cook with it in place of any oil other than olive oil. Yummy.

on August 16, 2013

At 7 Dollars Not Purchasing It

Yet I Employ Imitation Coconut Extract(5 Dollars)

Amongst With Ginger In Oriental Style Potatos,

Coffie With Alcoholic Kahlua.

Coconut(3) In Cookies.

By The Way

Bok Choy New

''Subbed'' Along With Cucumber In Greek salad.

on August 16, 2013

Although coconut oil seems expensive, I actually need to use less. I fried chicken in coconut oil last night and I use about half of the oil I had used in the past. I was able to cook it slowly at a lower temperature and get it crispy without it being oily or burning. This is the first time I got chicken cooked as my grandma used to make and it was a hit!.

on August 17, 2013

FOr Lisa: As for olive oil, it is one of the worst oils to cook with because it oxidizes when heated. Oxidation leads to the creation of cholesterol even with olive oil (check my previously posted links confirming this). Coconut oil doesn't because it does not oxidize at high temperatures.

on August 17, 2013

For all of those asking about if your coconut oil is still good even if it is liquidy. Yes, it is fine. Coconut oil has a melting temperature that is not very high, like 76 degrees I think so if it has been warmer than that, then it has just melted and is sitting there in it's liquid form. Based on everything that I've looked into, coconut oil is ok to melt and resolidify without any damage. It also has a very long shelf life so I wouldn't worry about it having gone bad as long as you were storing it properly (in a cool, dry place like a pantry). It is also a really good oil to cook with because it doesn't oxidize like many other oils. It's not the heat in the refining that is bad for your coconut oil but the chemical solvents (those are bad for everything which a lot of oils are made that way). There are some brands of coconut oil that make refined oil the expeller-pressed method which is still a really good quality oil but doesn't have that coconuty flavor if you don't like the coconut flavor that the virgin oil tends to have.

on August 21, 2013…

"So which oils should you use for cooking? For sautéing and cooking at light to medium temperatures, my choice would be the ones on the left of the graph: coconut oil, ghee, butter, palm oil, and lard. If you stay below 170 °C, you're in pretty safe waters in terms of oxidation regardless of which one of them you choose. Virgin olive oil seems like a viable choice, too; just make sure the particular olive oil you're using it doesn't start smoking.

For searing, browning and other methods of cooking requiring higher temperatures, ghee and avocado oil seem like the best choices. When it comes to resistance to oxidation, ghee might take the cake, but avocado oil appears to have the highest smoking point of all oils, even though it does have 13.5% PUFAs. Still, keep in mind that when cooking at very high temperatures, some advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are bound to be generated."

There are many blogs and some other sources online and I provided links in an earlier post. Coconut oil is a medium chain saturated fat and I have found anticdotal reports that it has helped some people.

Mercola has information on his site regarding coconut oil.

Coconut oil smokes at 170 degrees, ghee at 252 degrees, and avocado oil 155-270 degrees. These are probably good to use for frying at temperatures that don't have to be too high.

I can fry food in coconut oil and turn the heat to low and it frys beautifully. (We don't eat it often.) I cook with it low and slow. The oil doesn't smoke and my food does not burn.

I like that the link at the top suggests using butter or ghee. These are less expensive alternatives to coconut oil. My grandparents used butter, we used it most of my childhood. My cholesterol at 62 years old is really good. No meds for it. My grandmother lived to be 96 and she ate meat, and a rounded diet. She fried foods in Crisco or lard. She was never sick and did not die until my dad put her in a rest home. That is worse than "bad" food.

on August 23, 2013

Does coconut oil taste like coconut?

on September 12, 2013

my husband uses coconut oil in place of butter. so yummy on some very small butternut squash fresh from the garden!

on September 23, 2013

nice article!

Coconut oil is a miraculous ingredient that is found in almost every household of India. This natural product has tremendous benefits for hair and skin that we try to find in the artificial chemically made products in the market. The only condition is that you get the purest form of coconut oil.…

on March 11, 2019

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