Have you heard the news about the newest superfood? Move over acai, quinoa, and kale — coconuts are taking center stage. Coconut oil can improve your heart health, aid in weight loss, soften your skin, support your thyroid… the list goes on. What can coconut oil do for you?

Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

Let's state the obvious first — coconut oil is a saturated fat. We've been conditioned to steer away from fats and reach for low fat alternatives. Dr. Joseph Mercola explains why coconut oil is different:

"Coconut oil is a saturated fat made up primarily of medium chain fatty acids. Also known as medium chain triglycertides (MCTs), medium chain fatty acids are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss."

Dr. Mercola points to studies that have shown that coconut oil supports a healthy metabolism and supports thyroid function — both essential for weight loss.

Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it is easy to incorporate into your diet. It is great to cook with, so you can use it as an alternative to butter or other cooking oils. Coconut oil blends well, making it a great addition to smoothies - for adults and children. Try mixing a bit of coconut oil with honey to spread on toast or muffins. You may even find that you're happiest taking coconut oil by the spoonful — it really has a fabulous nutty, tropical taste.

Coconut Oil for Skin and Hair

Looking for an alternative to highly scented, chemical lotions? Want an alternative to synthetic hair treatments? Coconut oil may be the answer. Try smoothing coconut oil on damp skin after bathing or showering to help soften dry spots. For an even more luxurious feel, whip coconut oil in a stand mixer for several minutes (store in a jar at room temperature, or refrigerate). Coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, making it an excellent topical remedy for eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Need a quick solution for dry, frizzy hair? Rub a bit of coconut oil between your palms and fingers, then run through your hair.

Coconut Oil for Health

Opinions vary widely about the effect of coconut oil on general health. Proponents point to the level of monolaurin in coconut oil, and its ability to strengthen the overall immune system. Researcher Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. explains,

"[N]atural coconut fat in the diet leads to a normalization of body lipids, protects against alcohol damage to the liver, and improves the immune system's anti-inflammatory response."

The Washington Post recently named coconut oil one of 5 healthy fats to feed your kids, citing its' immune support characteristics and anti-bacterial properties.

Studies on the effects of coconut oil on heart disease, Alzheimer's, and other conditions is often conflicting. As with any medical concern, you should consult with your physician before using coconut oil to treat any symptoms.

Ready to add some coconut oil to your life? Look for unrefined, virgin coconut oil or try a product such as Earth Balance Coconut Spread. Or to learn more, check out The Coconut Oil Miracle.