This month, I purchased a gallon of coconut oil. I heard about the many benefits and uses of coconut oil through one of my favorite blogs: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2007/12/natural-body-products-on-a-budget-part-1.html. At first I was skeptical - I had always heard that coconut was one of the worst fats! However, after doing some research, I have been convinced that coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats to eat. I have very little understanding of science and molecules and such, but apparently because of the structure of its fatty acids, coconut oil is quickly processed by the body and turned into energy. A quote from "The Coconut Oil Miracle":
"It is easily digested by the body and unlike other fats (which tend to go to fat stores), the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are used by the body for metabolism. Coconut oil is uniquely rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid chain that is a prime ingredient in mother's milk, which helps to protect infants from sickness. The lauric acid becomes 2-monolauren in the stomach which has been shown by research to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitical properties."
Obviously, fats are still meant to be used sparingly, but I am planning to start replacing some of the vegetable/canola oil in my cooking with coconut oil.
In addition to being used for cooking, coconut oil can be used as a lotion, hair conditioner, massage oil, and in deodorant! Last weekend, I decided to try making homemade deodorant, using the recipe from the Passionate Homemaking blog. I made a small batch, which contains:
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. coconut oil
4 drops peppermint essential oil
I am very happy with the results! It works at least as well as my old Dove deodorant, costs less, and is completely natural. I have been concerned by reports that the aluminum contained in storebought deodorant is linked to breast cancer, so I am especially happy to have this easy alternative! I store it in a small glass jar that I purchased along with my coconut oil and peppermint essential oil from Mountain Rose Herbs: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/bulkoil/a-c.php. They seem to have competitive prices, but I am planning to look around to see if there are any local places that sell the same type of coconut oil, so I don't have to pay shipping! Let me know if you want to borrow a bit of coconut oil to try it out. :)