10 Health and Home Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconuts are delectable, and beneficial for more than dessert.

Recent studies focus on the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil, such as increased immunity. It’s also an excellent base for D.I.Y. natural beauty treatments and has some surprising yet beneficial uses in the home.

Health and Weight Loss with Coconut Oil

1. Boost your metabolism. Substituting a spoonful of coconut oil for another fat could boost your metabolism, leading to improved energy and weight loss. Coconut oil aids digestion, so that spoonful could also help prevent heartburn and indigestion.

2. Cook with it: Use it for sautéing or frying. Coconut oil is healthier than butter or shortening in baking— try the Black-and-White Fudge (by Sara Shillavy) or Nut-Butter Cups (by Tessa) at Free Coconut Recipes. Pop some popcorn in it for real movie-style popcorn!

3. Kill viruses and bacteria. Coconut oil is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral because it contains capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid—making it an effective virus and bacteria-killer. When applied topically, these properties speed healing of cuts and clear up bacteria/fungal infections such as yeast infections and athlete’s foot.

4. Increase your immunity. Coconut oil also can increase immunity. The Coconut Research Center reports that our bodies covert coconut oil’s lauric acid into monolaurin, which helps the body fight viruses like influenza. So that extra spoonful of coconut oil could protect you when cold season hits.

Coconut Oil Improves Hair and Skin

5. Condition your hair. Smooth some coconut oil into hair after shampooing for a luxuriant conditioner. Or leave it in overnight for a deep-conditioning treatment: Wrap hair in a towel and in the morning, rinse the oil out. A small dab of coconut oil combed through damp hair fights frizz.

6. Moisturize your skin. Coconut oil supremely moisturizes the skin. Dot it on your lips or spread it over dry skin spots, especially on the elbows, hands, or feet. It’s a gentle face moisturizer for dry, sensitive skin. Straight coconut oil works as a shaving cream for guys or ladies.

7. Use as all-natural deodorant. Equal parts of melted coconut oil mixed with cornstarch makes an effective all-natural deodorant. Add a few drops of odor-combating essential oil like lavender, tea tree or cedar wood and store in a covered jar. Coconut oil is shelf-stable at room temperature.

8. Clean your face. For a delectable skin treatment, try making this coconut oil salt or sugar scrub, or make a zingy coconut-ginger face/body scrub, recipe at

Food For My Family:

Coconut Oil Body/Face Scrub (adapted from Delicious Obsessions)

  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive, grape-seed, sunflower or almond oil
  • 1/4 cup raw honey, optional
  • 3-5 drops of essential oil, optional
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

Combine all ingredients together and store in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Use within 2-3 weeks. For a face scrub, use sugar and omit the olive/almond oil.

Home and Where to Buy

9. Make metal shine. Polish metal with coconut oil or mix some with a small bit of fresh lemon juice for a natural furniture polish (test a small area first).

10. Skip the WD-40. Wipe some onto squeaky hinges instead of WD-40. Coconut oil is a yummier way to remove gum stuck in hair or those pesky stuck-on sticker residue bits.

Find extra virgin cold-press coconut oil at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  For more beneficial ways you can use coconut oil, check out Tropical Traditions or the list at Delicious Obsessions.