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Get to Know Coconut Oil

Get to Know Coconut Oil

Is coconut oil part of your everyday health regimen? It should be! This versatile oil has an impressive list of health benefits, and research continues to grow supporting its role in heart health, blood-sugar control, and more. Whether used for cooking, applied topically, or taken by the spoonful along with your daily supplements, coconut oil is an all-around superstar for your health.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat -- but not the kind of saturated fat that clogs arteries. It's rich in a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid, a health-promoting fat that's converted to a compound that destroys a variety of disease-causing organisms in the body.

The most highly saturated of all vegetable oils, coconut oil is extremely stable. This stability gives it a high smoke point and prevents it from going rancid, making coconut oil an excellent choice for cooking or as an ingredient in beauty care products.

Here are just a few of the ways coconut oil contributes to overall health:

It's antibacterial and antiviral. Studies show that coconut oil can help boost the body's resistance to several viruses, fungi, and bacteria that can cause illnesses.

It's heart-healthy. The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown to support healthy HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and the fats in coconut help to combat the effects of oxidation, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Coconut oil helps to balance blood sugar. This oil is easy on the digestive system and doesn't produce an insulin spike in the bloodstream. It goes directly to the liver and is used as energy, so it offers the energy benefits of a carbohydrate in the body, but without elevating blood sugar.

It may even help control weight. Because coconut oil's medium-chain fatty acids are so easily absorbed and used for energy, their burning actually increases the body's metabolic rate. One study finds that women who consumed about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks didn't gain weight and actually had lower amounts of abdominal fat, which is difficult to lose.

Coconut oil fosters natural beauty from the inside out -- and also from the outside in. It's rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to protect the skin. Coconut oil's healthy fats have anti-inflammatory benefits and improve the skin's moisture content.

Coconut oil can be used as a lotion -- apply to damp skin just after bathing, when it will be more readily absorbed. Rub a dime-sized amount of coconut oil between your palms and run your hands through wet hair to tame unwanted frizz. Skip traditional shaving cream and opt for coconut oil. Or use about two-thirds sugar to one-third coconut oil for a luxurious body scrub.

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