There is so much you can do with coconut oil, from adding it to your skincare routine to enjoying it in a smoothie to substituting it in your favorite bakes. Why is coconut oil so loved? Because it has numerous health benefits – whether you use it on your skin or whether you eat it. Organic coconut oil is a superfood that helps strengthen the building blocks of our immune systems, helps promote heart health and brain function, and aids in fat loss.
If you’re curious how you can incorporate coconut oil into your diet or use it in your favorite recipes, keep reading.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Let’s first examine why you would want to add coconut oil to your diet. This natural oil can help with weight loss and can have positive effects on your heart. How is this possible? Coconut oil is composed of saturated fats. One of these fats is a fatty acid called lauric acid that can encourage the burning of fats. This process is called ketosis and it can help provide a quick energy boost to your body and brain. The lauric acid can also help raise high-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL could reduce risk of heart disease.
In addition to lauric acid, coconut oil also contains medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs). MCTs compete with glucose and head straight for the liver, creating increased energy and producing ketones, which benefit the brain. Additionally, MCTs can also increase the number of calories burned in a day as compared to longer-chain fatty acids. These triglycerides also may reduce hunger, making coconut oil a good addition to a weight-loss regimen.
Whether you’re looking to care for your heart, get a natural energy boost, or lose weight, coconut oil could be the addition to your diet that you’re looking for.
How Much Coconut Oil Per Day is Recommended?
Whether organic, non-organic, refined, or unrefined, coconut oil should be taken in moderation. For best results, consult your doctor or nutritionist. Because coconut oil has mostly saturated fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease if too much is consumed, it is recommended by researches to consume no more than 2 tablespoons per day, with most people (depending on their caloric intake) taking only 0.5 tbsp to 1.5 tbsp per day. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines say that saturated fats should be less than 10% of a person’s intake of calories.
How to Eat Coconut Oil
Below we’ve outlined some of the best ways to eat coconut oil. Whether you plan to cook with it, bake with it, or add it to your favorite drinks, we have all the tips you’ll need to diversify your diet.
Cook with It
Do you have a cookout planned for the end of summer? Or are you prepping meals for the week? One staple to always have in your pantry is coconut oil. Cooking with this oil instead of other oils, such as canola, corn, soybean, or vegetable, is a great way to incorporate the benefits of coconut oil into your diet, without having to worry about a coconut flavor.
You can use coconut oil to sauté or stir-fry vegetables, meats, or eggs. It also works great in sauces and for coating meat with spices.
Bake with It
If you have a gigantic sweet tooth, like we do, but are looking for ways to make your recipes healthier, substitute coconut oil 1:1 for butter or oil. This is our favorite way of getting the recommended amount. If you don’t want to put it in your recipe, you can use it to grease your baking pan.
Be sure to follow the recommendations on your recipe, but we find the best success when all of our ingredients are at room temperature (yes, that includes the eggs!) or your coconut oil may solidify again once it touches the cold ingredients.
Drink It in Hot Beverages
A simple (and delicious) way to eat coconut oil is by adding it to your tea or coffee. A teaspoon or two can help you towards meeting the recommended amount while also enjoying a rich, antioxidant-filled drink.
Add It to Smoothies
Another great way to eat coconut oil is by making it a key ingredient in your morning or afternoon smoothie. These island-inspired smoothies are a perfect way to get a nutrient-rich breakfast or snack.
We suggest you melt the coconut oil before adding it to your recipe or you may end up with clumps of coconut oil (which is not a bad thing but some may not find it as pleasant). If you’re looking for a new smoothie recipe to try, check out this one, which is full of bananas, chia seed, and coconut – it’s the delectable smoothie you need to power through the rest of your busy day.
Use It in Your Salads
Coconut oil makes for the perfect ingredient in most homemade salad dressings. It not only adds amazing flavor; it also increases the nutritional value of your salad (because salads can always be healthier, right?).
Get an Energy Boost
As we mentioned earlier, coconut oil can be used as a natural energy booster. The MCTs in the coconut oil increase your energy levels for longer periods of time without a crash later on in the day. Take it by the spoonful or mix it with honey and add it to your tea or coffee.
When you’re using coconut oil as a natural energy supplement, be sure to use organic, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has been heated to a point that the molecular structure of the coconut oil has been destroyed, which means the beneficial qualities it possesseshave also been killed.
Why You Can Enjoy Coconut Oil Too
There are so many creative ways to eat coconut oil. Whether you love the taste of it or not, you can reap the health benefits. Blend coconut oil with a variety of fruits for a heart-healthy smoothie. Substitute coconut oil for other cooking oils in your recipes. Or, stir it into your tea or coffee for a natural energy boost.
Because coconut oil is a natural source of MCTs, it can have several health benefits. However, it must be consumed in small doses, no more than two tablespoons a day, so that your diet doesn’t turn into one that is high in saturated fats. Keep your intake of coconut oil to less than 10% of your daily calories. Finally, be sure to use organic, cold-pressed coconut oil whenever possible because the cold-pressing leaves it in its natural state, ensuring its health benefits stay intact. However you choose to eat coconut oil, your heart, digestive system, and brain will thank you for all the natural nutrients.
Louisa Quinn is the Regulations Manager at Organic Fiji. She handles all the certification applications, ethics and regulations of products/practices, and ingredient sourcing for their coconut oil products. Louisa enjoys empowering women and men to protect the environment, animals, and people by educating them on practical and ethical ways to shop for personal care items.