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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Beauty: Coconut Oil

As part of my healthy eating plan, I decided to buy a bottle of coconut oil. To be honest, before I read about it on the keepinghealthygettingstylish blog, I didn't even know that this product existed. Having looked in the oil section of the supermarket, I couldn't spot coconut oil anywhere. Instead, I spotted a bottle in the cosmetics aisle. I was a little dubious about eating it because of its location. But having researched it fully online, I see that it is perfectly safe to consume. However, the first problem I am faced with is how on earth I get it out of its bottle?! Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. I've only managed to get it out of the neck of the bottle by using the end of a spoon. What will I do when I reach the end of the bottle? Am I going to have to soak the bottle in hot water every time I want to use it?

After all the faff with accessing the stuff, I want to know what all the fuss is about. The Internet is full of hugely detailed scientific explantations, but I'm going to list the uses which actually mean something to me.

- high smoke point - it is essential that you use an oil with a high smoke point for frying otherwise your pan with emit horrible smoky fumes. Coconut oil is perfect for stir fries and makes a much healthier, dairy free alternative to butter.

- helps lower levels of 'bad cholesterol'. There are two types of cholesterol: High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) which is 'good' and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) which is 'bad'. High levels of LDL cause a narrowing of arteries and therefore contribute to strokes and heart disease. Coconut oil contains high levels of HDLs which act to decrease the amount of LDL in the body by transporting it to the liver where it can be removed.

- aids digestion by helping to prevent constipation

I've only used coconut oil to fry with so far, but I'm hoping to use it as a replacement in recipes which require generic vegetable oil such as in muffins. Coconut oil is completely odourless and tasteless so it shouldn't alter the flavour of my favourite recipes too much.

To be honest with you, I've been using coconut oil far more for its cosmetic properties. It can be used as a non-scented facial oil (my skin is so soft and non-greasy after it's applied), and it also makes a fantastic eye make up remover. Simply apply a dab to a cotton wool pad and rub the makeup gently away. There really isn't anything that coconut oil can't do; apparently it's also great after sun (which I will more than likely need next week in Egypt!). One property I'm particularly interested in is its supposed ability to diminish scars. I had my appendix out 7 years ago, and I'm going to rub coconut oil on the scar. I know it's hugely unlikely to do anything to such an old scar, but it can't do any harm! In fact, my obsession with coconut oil is so ridiculous that Martin is getting hugely fed up of me pointing out blemishes and offering to put coconut oil on them as I'm convinced it will help!

Here are just a few other uses:

- mixed with sugar - a fantastic body scrub
- massage oil
- lip balm
- nappy cream
- low factor sun screen (SPF 4)
- hair conditioner

To be honest, I really need to put more effort into exploring coconut oil's culinary uses rather than its skin benefits. I'll let you know how I get on.

Finally, coconut oil is cheap. I got a bottle for just £1.30 at ASDA (link)

What do you use coconut oil for? Do you have any favourite recipes you like to use it in?

coconut oil
PS Since I wrote this post, I've melted down by coconut oil and transfered it to an empty cream pot. It's much easier to use now!

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