Not long ago, coconut oil was considered an unnecessary fat that led to high cholesterol, weight gain, and higher blood pressure. Now, it seems, things have turned around for this oil. It is now praised as a health tool that is healthier than most oils you use to cook and bake with, as well as a great beauty tool to create luxurious moisture and brighter skin.


Is this new take on coconut oil just a fad, or could it really be true?


If you get down to the science of it, you must first understand saturated fats a little better. Saturated fats are generally viewed as the villains, but it is unbeknownst to some that there are actually four different kinds of saturated fats: lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid.


Generally speaking, the villainous saturated fats most doctor and healthcare professionals are imploring you to avoid are found in foods like red meat and full-fat dairy products, which contain mostly palmitic and stearic acids. However, tropical vegetable oils, like palm oil and coconut oil, contain mostly lauric and myristic acids.


While lauric acid, the main saturated fat in coconut oil, causes a large increase in cholesterol, the increase comes mostly from increasing the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called “good” cholesterol. It is for this reason that coconut oil is being exalted as a healthy oil. However, this evidence is still new and slightly controversial as it directly conflict with previous findings a decade earlier.


To put it simply, there is still a bit of controversy surrounding the actual effects that coconut oil have on the body. There are, however, a few facts surrounding coconut oil that are evidence for its benefit: countries that consume lots of coconut oil tend to be the healthiestand it is proven to have moisturizing effects when applied to the skin and hair. According to celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder:


Commercial moisturizers contain lots of water, which makes you feel like your skin is being moisturized. But as soon as the water dries, your skin becomes dry again. Also, many commercial brands of moisturizers contain petroleum-based ingredients that can suffocate the skin. In contrast, coconut oil provides deep and real moisture. It helps strengthen underlying tissues and helps remove excessive dead cell on the skin’s surface that makes your skin rough and flaky in texture. It also great for shine and as a natural moisturizer for your hair.


While there is still some controversy surrounding this as a dietary benefit, it is without doubt that this is an amazing beauty tool. Replace your lotions from the drug store, and use coconut oil as your ultimate moisturizer. Use it as a lotion, hair mask, or even a light sunscreen!


Hair Mask: Simply apply liberally to your hair, cover in a shower cap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. When you are done, rise with warm water and shampoo as usual. This is a great way to get rid of hair damage that has built up over time.


Sunscreen: Simply lather oil on as a light sunscreen. It blocks up to 20 percent of ultraviolet rays!


Skin Care: To use coconut oil as lotion, there is no prep required. Simply apply to skin! Just make sure to rub it in, so you do not get all slippery. Coconut oil does, however, make a great base to a body scrub. Simply mix together coconut oil and sugar to make your own natural scrub (it is great for sensitive skin, too!).


What do you think of coconut oil? Do you swear by it? Or do you think it is just another fad? Let me know in the comment below or tweet me @kateeb790!