Coconut oil, often cold-pressed from the fruit, has been the indisputable breakout ingredient in the nutrition and beauty worlds for the last few years, winning fans who adore it for being a total wellness multi-tasker.
“People used to think coconut oil was unhealthy, because it contains saturated fats, but now we know that these saturated fats are different to those found in fatty meat,” says acupuncturist Jill Blakeway, director of the YinOva Center in New York City. “Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are metabolized differently in the body and are a great source of energy.”
MCTs have even been shown to increase energy expenditure in the body, she says, which means coconut oil can aid in weight loss. Plus, the oil contains something called auric acid, which gives it antimicrobial properties, Blakeway says “making it a good plant to ward off infections”
From a culinary perspective, coconut oil makes an awesome alternative to olive oil because it can handle up to 450 degrees of heat, giving it a high smoke point (i.e., the point at which the good compounds in an oil begin to break down and potentially problematic ones can begin to form). Try it in stir-frys, or to pan sear lean proteins. It also comes in handy in everything from baked goods to bulletproof-style coffee.
And beauty aficionados are enamored with it. “Coconut oil is by far my favorite beauty product, and I use it wherever I can,” says celeb nutritionist and beauty-foods evangelist, Kim Snyder. “It’s super hydrating, so it’s great for use on dry, irritated skin.”
Who should use it? “Everyone, everywhere,” she raves. It’s also a hair conditioner, star makeup remover, lip balm, and body scrub (when mixed with sugar or salt). No wonder so many wellness gurus love to use and recommend coconut oil.