Coconut oil is a fat obtained from dry or fresh coconut and is called refined or extra-virgin coconut oil, respectively. Extra virgin coconut oil is the most beneficial to health, as it does not undergo refinement processes and does not lose nutrients or is subjected to high temperatures.
Natural coconut oil is very versatile because, in addition to food, it can also be used as a moisturizer for the face, in the hair mask.
The main benefits of coconut oil include:
- Strengthening of the immune system, due to the presence of lauric acid;
- Hydration of skin and hair, due to their nourishing properties;
- Anti-aging effect of the skin, due to its high concentration of antioxidants;
- Contribution to weight loss, as several studies indicate that this oil may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation;
- Increased satiety, thus helping to lose weight, since the desire to eat is reduced.
In addition, coconut oil is thought to be able to balance cholesterol levels and improve bowel function, but studies are still inconsistent.
How to use coconut oil
Here’s how to use coconut oil and make the most of all its benefits:
1. To lose weight
Some studies report that coconut oil can contribute to weight loss because it contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are absorbed in the intestine, passing directly to the liver, where they are used as a form of energy, which is used by organs such as the brain and heart, therefore, it is not stored in adipose tissue in the form of fat.
Despite this, this oil should not be ingested in large quantities, due to its high caloric value.
2. To cook
To cook coconut oil it can be used in several ways, such as sauté, to grill meat, or even to make cakes and pies.
To do this, just replace the fat that is usually used, such as sunflower oil, butter, or olive oil for example, with coconut oil in the same amounts. Thus, if the person habitually uses 2 tablespoons of olive oil, just replace it with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to enjoy its benefits, which are greater when coconut oil is extra virgin. However, it is not recommended to consume more than 1 tablespoon per day.
It is important to note that extra virgin coconut oil should not be used in fried foods, because it burns at lower temperatures, compared to sunflower oil.
3. To moisturize the hair
Preparing homemade masks with coconut oil is very simple. Both the mask of aloe vera and honey with coconut oil, like that of banana and avocado with coconut oil or even the simple mixture of coconut oil with olive oil, are homemade masks ideal to moisturize and nourish dry, lifeless and brittle hair.
These masks should be applied over the freshly washed hair and dried with a towel, allowing to act between 20 to 25 minutes, after which it is recommended to wash the hair again with shampoo to remove all residues. In addition, to enhance the effect of the masks you can choose to use a thermal cap or a heated wet towel, as they will help to increase its moisturizing effect.
4. To moisturize the skin
Due to the nutritional and antioxidant properties of coconut oil, it is a great ally of the skin and, therefore, it can be applied to the face, with the help of cotton wool, passing a greater amount in the eye region and allowing it to act throughout in the evening.
It can also be used as a lip balm, especially when it is presented in a solid-state and as a measure to prevent the appearance of stretch marks since it helps the skin to remain more elastic.
In addition, this oil can also be used as a makeup remover, even removing the waterproof mask.
How to make coconut oil at home
Coconut oil can also be prepared at home, as follows:
- 3 glasses of coconut water;
- 2 brown peeled coconuts peeled and cut into pieces.
The first step in making coconut oil is to beat all the ingredients in a blender or mixer and then strain with a clean cloth and place the liquid in a bottle, which must remain in a dark environment for 48 hours. After this period, the bottle should be placed in a cool environment, protected from light, for another 6 hours.
After 6 o’clock, it is necessary to place the bottle upright in the refrigerator for 3 hours. With this, the coconut oil will solidify, and remove it, the bottle must be cut at the place where the separation of water and oil can be observed, using only the oil, which must be transferred to a container with a lid.
Coconut oil becomes suitable for consumption when it becomes liquid, with no need to store in the refrigerator.