Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil


Last week my mom did a great job talking about different ways to use coconut oil. Coconut oil is something that I am very excited about as of late and didn’t know too much about until recently.  But the more I read about it and study others who study it much more than I do, I am starting to believe that it is one of the best sources of fat for us to consume.  Today we a fortunate to have Tracie back to talk about why coconut oil is so good!


I’m so glad to be back on Dustin’s blog. Joy did a great job last Friday with an introduction to coconut oil along with some great recipes for you to try. I decided to follow that up with answers to the most commonly asked questions that I get about coconut oil. Enjoy!

coconut_oilWhy is coconut oil good for you? Isn’t it a saturated fat?

You are right. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. However, it is a type of saturated fat that consists largely of short and medium chained fatty acids. The short and medium chain lengths make it more efficient for the body to use as instant energy. This process can actually increase your metabolism and lead to weight loss. There are a lot of misconceptions about saturated fat in general. I am not going to focus on that debate in this article, but if you would like to read an article that reviews that topic, click here.

Another important property of coconut oil is that it has a high percentage of saturation. This allows it to stay very stable at room temperature and it does not go rancid. This is very important since the intake of rancid oil can create free radical damage in the body.

If coconut oil is so good why has it gotten such a bad rap?

The reputation of coconut oil and other saturated fats started to be questioned in early1980’s when the media was influenced by the American Soybean Association (ASA) to relay the message that saturated fats, like coconut oil, caused heart disease. (Fife, 9) This was the beginning of the elimination of saturated fats and the introduction of cheap fats like trans fats and polyunsaturated oil in the American food supply. Considering that soy and corn are some of the largest crops grown in this country the ASA was very happy to be selling more corn and soy for oil. This is a sad fact considering it put the health of the American citizens in jeopardy. Coconut oil is making a comeback because the science and truth is coming out about the harmful affects of trans and polyunsaturated fats.

How much should I use?

I usually recommend consuming 2-4 T of coconut oil per day. I have found that it is best to start out slowly. If you take too much at once it can have a laxative affect for some people. Some clients will start with 1 t and work up from there. On a day to day basis I use about 2-3 T.

How should I use it?

Coconut oil is a great oil to cook with since it does not go rancid when it is heated. Remember that it is solid at room temperature and needs to be melted before use. Here are some ideas:

-Cook anything with it on the stove top (meat, eggs, veggies, etc.)
-Add it to hot liquids (tea, coffee, broth, soup)
-Melt it and add to smoothies or yogurt (one of my brilliant clients had the idea to use a candle warmer to keep her -coconut oil in a liquid form for easy use)
-Soften and mix it with a tiny bit of pure maple syrup and dip apples
-Consume as a supplement by the spoonful

What are the benefits?

Following is a list of coconut oil benefits:

-Contains lauric acid which is antibacterial and antiviral
-The medium chain fatty acids help to increase metabolism
-Acts as an anti-oxidant in the body
-It is very stable and does not oxidize (turn rancid easily)
-Aids in healing irritated, dry, chapped, and other skin conditions ( I no longer have to use chap stick)
-Can relieve digestive issues, such as constipation, yeast overgrowth, and hemorrhoids

Where can I buy it?

I have found that people are more likely to have an allergic reaction to the brands that taste or smell like coconut. The aroma and taste of coconut also limits it versatility – who wants coconut eggs every morning? I would encourage you to try different brands until you find one that works well for you. Please visit my website for ordering information on the kind that I personally use.

Can coconut oil help me lose weight?

Below is an excerpt from an article by Ray Peat who has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Oregon with specialization in physiology and women’s nutrition for the last 30 years.

In the l940s, farmers attempted to use cheap coconut oil for fattening their animals, but they found that it made them lean, active and hungry. For a few years, an anti-thyroid drug was found to make the livestock get fat while eating less food, but then it was found to be a strong carcinogen, and it also probably produced hypothyroidism in the people who ate the meat. By the late l940s, it was found that the same anti-thyroid effect, causing animals to get fat without eating much food, could be achieved by using soy beans and corn as feed.

I like to use this story to illustrate that adding the right types of fat to your diet can actually help you lose weight. I have seen many times, in both my clients and myself, the positive metabolic affects coconut oil can have on the body.

Are there certain people coconut oil is not good for?

Yes. Some people have severe allergies to coconut products. Also, people that have very sensitive digestive systems have to be careful what types of coconut products they use. Coconut flours, meats, and aromatic oils seem to be the most problematic.

I hope that you enjoyed learning more about how adding coconut oil to your diet can be healthful. If you would like more information on my services please visit my website. I have 5 spots left for upcoming 8 week seminar series starting this Wednesday. Please click here to reserve your spot today.
Tracie Hittman Nutrition, LLC – What’s on Your Plate?


Enig, Mary and Sally Fallon. Eat Fat, Lose Fat. Penguin Group: NY, 2005.

Fife, Bruce. The Coconut Oil Miracle. Penguin Group: NY, 2004.

Plank, Nina. Real Food – What to Eat and Why. Bloomsbury: NY, 2006.


  1. I have added coconut oil and other healthy fats to my diet based on Tracie’s recommendation. I am pleased to say I have not gained a pound and no longer feel hungry most of the day!!! Her advice and tips on nutrition along with exercise is really making a difference for me!

  2. Another great article, Tracie!! You make it so very readable and easy to understand and give us a good place to start, even if we have never heard of the latest on coconut oil-an oil that has been around forever. You have gotten me to the library where there are many, many books on the subject-especially interesting is how, for example, the Philipinos have used every aspect of the coconut, at every stage of development for everything under the sun-some cultures used the coconut as their main source of food. Anyway, for you curious minds, the links Tracie included are VERY informative!
    Just last evening I tried my usual cornbread recipe and used all coconut oil instead of reg. oil-turned out great; I haven’t found anything that doesn’t work, although a friend said her kids did not have very kind remarks about the odor when she used the virgin oil :)–I use the refined that is odorless, with no complaints.

  3. Ray Peat’s article says coconut oil made animals “lean, active and hungry”. Why would you want to take coconut oil to lose weight if makes you hungry?

  4. Hi Pippa,

    In my experience with clients, adding coconut oil to the diet does not make people more hungry but curves the appetite because in combination with carbohydrates it slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream. This allows the blood sugar to stay even and not take a nose drive causing hunger and cravings. Coconut oil does support the metabolism and the thyroid. As the body begins to heals on a good diet people are often able to eat more without gaining weight.

  5. Remember to use only virgin coconut oil to ensure you’re oil was processed with low levels of heat. Some good brands of virgin coconut oil are Nutiva, Tropical Traditions, and Garden of Life. You can also use virgin coconut oil as a natural hair moisturizer. Studies have shown virgin coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft and reduces protein loss resulting in thicker and stronger hair.

  6. Would you recommend this over Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

  7. Hi Luanne,

    Yes, I do recommend using coconut oil over extra virgin olive oil for hot applications. It is much more stable than olive oil for cooking.


  8. My son’s nutritionist recommended mixing coconut oil with gelatin to make coconut oil “candies”. I buy the refined stuff that doesn’t smell or taste like coconut, so I plan to experiment with adding different flavors. What are your thoughts Tracie?

  9. Is there any where local (madison area) to buy coconut oil?

  10. MikeinMaine says

    Hello – I like your site.

    I have been doing a low carb diet now for about 2 1/2 months and I of course hit a stall which led me to do some research on how to break a stall and I came across coconut oil. It intregued me to do more research and I was convinced enough to try it out – past two days, pretty small amounts so far and I have to say, I am liking the benifits of it already. But I do have a question.

    In all my research on coconut oil, I have yet to find if it’s best use would be as the sole, or atleast primary, source of fats/oils. Given CO’s stability, it has it’s definit advantages, but should I stop taking Omega 3’s now that I am using coconut oil? I doubt their would be any interaction but am I “doubling down” by using both?

    • Mike,

      Great question! I would use CC only for high heat situations like cooking, but olive oil and butter are both great fats to use, as is fish oils with their omega 3’s. So use CC for cooking at high temps and still incorporate olive oil and butter.


  11. Terri,
    Yes, almost anywhere in Madison has coconut oil. It is found at Woodman’s in the health food section. Nutiva is my favorite brand. It is in a jar and is a solid at room temperature. This is deceiving for those looking for a bottle of oil.
    TIP: If you happen to be a member at Willy St. Co-op, the Nutiva brand coconut oil is also in the Health and Beauty Aid (HABA) section. So, on Wellness Wed. (1st Wed. of the month) it is an extra 10% off!

  12. RE: Dustin’s coconut oil blog entry

    Yes, almost anywhere in Madison has coconut oil. It is found at Woodman’s in the health food section. Nutiva is my favorite brand. It is in a jar and is a solid at room temperature. This is deceiving for those looking for a bottle of oil.
    TIP: If you happen to be a member at Willy St. Co-op, the Nutiva brand coconut oil is also in the Health and Beauty Aid (HABA) section. So, on Wellness Wed. (1st Wed. of the month) it is an extra 10% off!

  13. Finally coconut oil is getting the credit it deserves.
    I’ve used it for 4 years. Also coconut flour. I like
    the taste it gives food. And some sources sell coconut
    cream (its finely ground coconut the consistency of
    peanut butter) Great. Thanks for this acknowledgment.

  14. Has anyone ever tried using coconut oil to replace shortening in cookie or cake recipes? I was just wondering if it would work well. Thanks!


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