Coconut oil used for more than healthy cooking

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Coconut oil is sold as a cooking oil, but has also become popular for home beauty treatments and remedies in recent years.

Health sites like Dr. Axe list more than 75 uses for coconut oil, including everything from hair conditioner to toothpaste.

Cooking

Provo resident Aubrey Markham, a health and coconut oil enthusiast, said she uses coconut oil for various purposes and believes in its health benefits and appeal. She said coconut oil has a sweeter taste and is a healthier alternative to traditional cooking oils, making it an attractive way to replace unhealthy fats without compromising taste.

“My family started using coconut oil years ago before it was popular,” Markham said. “I like it because, unlike other oils, it doesn’t oxidize when it reaches a high temperature, which makes it healthier. Plus, it tastes better and lighter.”

Provo resident Aubrey Markham uses coconut oil to make lotions and other beauty products. (Gianluca Cuestas)

DIY beauty

Coconut oil is also a popular ingredient to use for at-home beauty treatments and remedies. BYU business student Karena Foust said she uses coconut oil to help keep her curly hair healthy.

“It helps with split ends and keeping it nice, especially because it’s so dry out here. It just keeps it moisturized,” Foust said.

Coconut oil can also be useful in removing tough makeup as well, according to Foust. She said it’s one of the best ways she’s found to remove waterproof or long-wear makeup.

“I’ve used it as a makeup remover,” Foust said. “If I’m wearing a waterproof mascara that won’t come off, I’ll use (coconut oil) and it works. I use it for lipsticks too.”

Markham said coconut oil can be used for pretty much anything.

“I use it for skin care: on stretch marks, rashes and dry skin. I once got rid of a wart with it,” Markham said. “I put it in smoothies because it has healthy fatty acids and use it on popcorn instead of butter sometimes. It mixes well with essential oils if you want to use them on larger surfaces.”

Health benefits

Another way students have used coconut oil is for a technique called oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique. This is a way of using coconut oil to help whiten teeth and remove toxins and bad breath by mixing it with water and swishing it in your mouth for about 10 minutes, said BYU computer science student Kara Crowder.

BYU psychology student Michelle Liu said she had a companion on her LDS mission in Taiwan who used oil pulling and eventually convinced Liu to try it as well. Even though she wasn’t a fan, Liu has found other uses for coconut oil. She said she found the experience “kind of gross” and wouldn’t do it again. Liu said she prefers to use coconut oil in her hair, where she’s seen it make a difference.

Provo resident Aubrey Markham said coconut oil is so versatile because of its healthy fats, and it can do many things normally requiring the purchase of special products. (Gianluca Cuestas)

Coconut oil appears to be one of the most versatile trends at the moment, according to Markham. She said its ability to be used in cooking and around the house make it a convenient, healthy and often economic alternative to purchasing several different products to achieve the same results as coconut oil.

The mild scent and texture of coconut oil makes it a trend worth trying even for those who might be sensitive to other products with stronger chemicals, according to Crowder. It’s also widely available at most grocery stores and markets. Companies like Kopari have even based their entire businesses around coconut oil’s benefits.

With all the talk of how the oil can be used in just about anything, Foust said she believes it wouldn’t be so popular if it weren’t at least somewhat beneficial and worth using.

“It probably is beneficial,” Foust said. “But I think it’s also very trendy, and everyone is focused on coconut oil when there may be other things that are just as useful and helpful.”

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