5 best ways to eat coconut oil for health benefits

A hand squeezing coconut oil out of a half coconut

Did you know how best to eat coconut oil for health benefits? It's not simply shoving 2 tablespoons of coconut oil on an empty stomach every morning and then you become strong and healthy. You won't reap the most benefits eating coconut oil this manner. There are some specific ways. Done right, you can dramatically step up your immunity against disease-causing pathogens and keep yourself safe.

Let's get started and juice every last drop of goodness out of eating coconut oil.

1. Eating coconut oil straight from jar

Some of my friends simply love eating coconut oil straight from the jar in the morning.

If you feel like taking coconut oil orally by itself in the morning like them, go ahead. It's worth noting that coconut oil may irritate your throat if you drink it down straight. It's mildly acidic (~ pH 5). So, be careful.

Not only that, you shouldn't try taking coconut oil on an empty stomach. Why?

Because consuming coconut oil may cause diarrhea when your stomach is empty. Other gastrointestinal (GI) discomforts like nausea or abdominal cramps may follow. Many people got these bad effects after eating coconut oil on an empty stomach.

Note
Even when your stomach is not empty, taking too much coconut oil internally may still result in diarrhea and other stomach discomforts. How much coconut oil is too much? To give you an idea, it's like swallowing 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with a glass of soy milk. If this triggers a bad stomach reaction, then that's too much for your body to handle. Either you reduce the amount of coconut oil or increase the volume of soy milk to avoid the bad effect.

Though it's a detox reaction stemming from coconut oil which actually benefits you by helping to clear up the clog in your colon, you wouldn't want to experience such adverse effect first thing in the morning.

Unless you desperately need coconut oil for a quick constipation relief, never ever take coconut oil by mouth on an empty stomach, especially 2 tablespoons at one shot.

1.1   How to safely take coconut oil straight from jar

If you prefer to eat coconut oil straight from the jar, it would be safer to do it only after you've ingested some food, or you eat coconut oil along with food. For example, take coconut oil only after your breakfast in the morning, or mix coconut oil into your breakfast.

Note
  1. When you spoon up coconut oil from the jar and send it straight into your mouth, do not dip the same spoon back into the jar of coconut oil. Upon contact with the digestive enzymes in your saliva, coconut oil may turn rancid over time. That's why coconut cream or coconut milk turns bad easily after a few days (even in fridge) as they naturally contain enzymes.
  2. Make sure your spoon is clean and dry before you scoop coconut oil from the jar. Moisture in coconut oil can promote the growth of mold and cause coconut oil to turn bad.
  3. Do not leave a disposable plastic spoon in the oil for the sake of convenience. The mildly acidic nature of coconut oil will gradually melt down the plastic spoon.
  4. Use porcelain spoon for scooping coconut oil. Stainless steel spoon should be fine for a brief contact with coconut oil.

Actually, I recommend the latter because eating coconut oil with food can help to boost the efficiency of food digestion. This enables you to absorb more nutrients from the food for stronger health and immunity.

In fact, there are more health benefits in consuming coconut oil with food than just increasing your nutrient absorption. You'll find out soon enough.

2. Adding coconut oil raw to food and beverages

Heat may trigger loss of hydrogen and turn the beneficial saturated fats in coconut oil into unsaturated fats. This chemical reaction literally "destroys" the health benefits of coconut oil. More heat, more loss of benefits.

So, if you simply add coconut oil raw to any food or beverages, you gain the greatest health benefits out of eating it.

For instance, you can add one or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil raw before serving your cooked oatmeal or porridge in the morning. Stir to mix well and there you go – a healthy coconut oil breakfast for you early in the morning.

You can also pour coconut oil raw over blanched vegetables like broccoli or bok choy. We do that pretty often at lunch, and it tastes really good.

Note
If you add coconut oil when the cooked food is steaming hot, the rising steam in the cooked food may carry away some molecules of coconut oil with it into the air. To cut down the loss of coconut oil (and its health benefits), wait a while for the cooked food to become less hot before adding coconut oil.

That's not all, you can add to your favorite beverages as well.

2.1   Mixing coconut oil into beverages

Take me for instance. I always pour one tablespoon of coconut oil into my warm multigrain drink or black soy milk every morning. Same goes for smoothies or juices. A very convenient way to take more coconut oil orally for health benefits. Just be warned of a layer of grease floating on top if you add too much coconut oil and you never stir well.

Note
You can blend your favorite fruits and dark leafy greens together with coconut oil so that coconut oil completely merges with the smoothie, rather than adding after the smoothie is done.

You can also stir coconut oil straight in warm water and gulp it down too. That actually tastes a bit gross if you're not used to drinking coconut oil like that. I do that sometimes right before my training session. It kind of enhances my energy level and training performance. It hydrates my body too. Quite a good way of ingesting coconut oil.

2.2   Other ways of consuming coconut oil raw for health benefits

Have you tried dipping fruits like banana, apple or papaya in coconut oil before?

If you haven't, go try it. It's another good way to ingest coconut oil for health benefits. You can also dip a piece of dark chocolate in it for a mini bulletproof effect. (Caffeine + coconut oil = bulletproof)

How about using coconut oil as a dressing for your raw salad?

We do that too at times. Keep in mind that if you add coconut oil to a chilled salad, coconut oil will turn into soft flakes instead of staying liquid. That's because coconut oil starts to freeze below 76 °F (24.4 °C). The cooler the temperature, the more solid it gets.

Speaking of that, I like chilling my vegan butter-flavored coconut oil till it solidifies a bit and becomes soft like snow. Then I spread it over my wholegrain bread with a butter knife. Yummy!

You can do the same to virgin coconut oil. This will add a fresh coconut flavor to the bread. (Melt your coconut oil a bit till it becomes softer if it has hardened due to winter season.)

We also like spreading our favorite crunchy peanut butter on bread. Our peanut butter spread is very different from others. It contains plenty of virgin coconut oil in it.

That's because we've transferred the entire peanut butter over to a glass jar and then "soaked it up" with the most natural and aromatic preservative on earth – virgin coconut oil. Yes, we use virgin coconut oil to preserve food so the food can stay fresh longer.

Note
Coconut oil may react with plastic (especially in hot summer) but not with glass. That's why we transfer the peanut butter from plastic to glass container.

2.3   Can you add coconut oil to cooked rice?

Why not? Your rice will smell fragrantly like fresh coconut if you use the best quality unrefined virgin coconut oil. I love eating virgin coconut oil this way because it turns my rice instantly into nasi lemak, a Malay cuisine dish commonly found in Singapore and Malaysia.

And the good thing about this is, coconut oil helps to regulate the absorption of refined carbohydrate (from rice) into our bloodstream. This in turn, helps prevent a spike in blood glucose levels.

Want even better protection against diabetes? Then add coconut oil to cooked brown rice, like me. The high fiber content in brown rice can further regulate blood glucose levels.

Oh, one more thing I always do to reap more health benefits via ingesting coconut oil. I bring it out wherever I go. I store it in a portable 100 ml glass bottle so I can add it raw to any food whenever I eat out. You can use a 100 ml glass (cosmetic) jar instead so you can scoop up coconut oil in case it solidifies in cold weather.

So, that's how I eat coconut oil raw daily for health benefits. Let's move on to cooking with coconut oil so you get to take more coconut oil internally for better health, shall we?

3. Cooking with coconut oil

As said earlier, heating may damage coconut oil's beneficial nutrients. But not much as long as you keep the cooking temperature well below its smoke point, which is 350 °F (177 °C).

Note
Virgin coconut oil, RBD coconut oil and other pure coconut oils have about the same smoke point – 350 °F (177 °C). But fractionated liquid coconut oil may start to smoke as "early" as 320 °F (160 °C) depending on its composition and proportion of caprylic and capric acids.

I know that some cooking methods require much higher heat than coconut oil's smoke point. If you allow coconut oil to fume at its smoke point, its healthful molecular structures will break up and fall apart. And will likely transform into something worse than trans fats that could destroy the healthy cells in your body and cause cancer.

So, how to make sure coconut oil doesn't smoke during cooking and retain as much health benefits as possible?

Control the flame at low or medium-low heat regardless of whether you're sautéing, stir-frying or even frying with coconut oil. The trade-off is you need to do the cooking longer. (I take that as a patience training.)

Another nifty trick I always use when cooking with coconut oil is I'll add just a teaspoon or so to say, stir-fry some mixed vegetables. And then after that I'll add a tablespoon of coconut oil raw just before serving the cooked veggies.

This enables me to gain more health benefits from eating coconut oil daily.

If you bake with coconut oil, you might worry that baking for example, bread at temperature higher than the oil's smoke point will break its health properties. Actually, it won't happen in most cases because the moisture in food can help to keep the inside temperature below the smoke point of coconut oil.

Are you getting clearer and better on how to use coconut oil for cooking now? Good. Next, please.

4. Taking coconut oil capsules

Are you aware that you can ingest coconut oil via capsules?

So, how many coconut oil capsules should you take orally every day for health benefits?

One coconut oil capsule generally contains 1000 mg (i.e. 1 g) only. If you need 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to keep you strong and healthy, and one tablespoon holds 14 grams, which equates to 14 capsules, then you'll need to take 42 coconut oil capsules daily for health benefits.

Can you imagine yourself swallowing 42 capsules a day, every day? That's total madness!

And it's not cheap to consume coconut oil in capsules though because packing in the soft-gelled pills involves extra cost.

Another implicit disadvantage is that coconut oil may have turned rancid right within that little pill without you knowing. Unless you spare some time and effort to randomly sample them by cutting open some capsules to examine the quality of the oil.

If it doesn't smell like coconut but instead, smells like cheese or vomit or something disgusting, then the oil has turned bad. And taking it internally can cause more harm than good to your health.

Unless you're always on the move (like a road warrior) and so busy that you need coconut oil pills daily for great convenience (pop it anywhere, anytime), I suggest that you eat coconut oil from the jar, along with food.

This way you can consume more coconut oil daily for greater health benefits and stronger protection against viruses, bacteria and other super germs without burning a deep hole in your pocket.

However, if you've decided after much thought that taking coconut oil capsules by mouth is the best option for you to gain its health benefits daily, then you should try not to take the pills internally when your stomach is empty, especially if you need to swallow 14 pills or more.

Eating coconut oil on an empty stomach may trigger diarrhea and other GI discomforts, remember?

Note
Animal-derived gelatin that is generally used to make capsule may contain antibiotic and hormone residues. To add insult to injury, some may even get contaminated with diseased animal tissues. Hence, it's best to buy coconut oil that is encapsulated in plant-derived pills if you need to take coconut oil capsules for everyday health protection.

5. Eating food that contains coconut oil's health properties

Did you know what you're actually ingesting every day when you say you're eating coconut oil for health benefits?

Medium-chain fatty acids. Yes, this is it!

We're after medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) for its potent capability in fighting malicious microbes, stopping damaging free-radical activities, providing quick energy and fixing up sluggish metabolism.

And the good news is, you don't just find MCFAs in coconut oil. You can find them in other coconut products as well, such as coconut cream / milk, coconut butter, coconut water, coconut meat or desiccated coconut etc.

Note
Not all coconut products have MCFAs. Coconut sugar and coconut nectar do not have.

That said, now you have more ways to elevate your health and enhance your well-being.

5.1   How to eat coconut products to reap benefits

You can pour coconut milk in your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate drink to replace dairy milk. You might want to use coconut cream instead. But it's thicker and taste more fiber-y in those beverages. So, adding coconut cream to curry would be more suitable (we do that, always).

Note
Coconut oil actually goes quite well with coffee to form bulletproof coffee. But my advice is, don't drink this too often as making yourself too hyper every day may affect your sleep quality at night. I did lose my sleep a few times because of that. I'm scared now.

Coconut butter is actually made by blending pure coconut meat or desiccated coconut into a creamy butter-like texture food. It's also called coconut manna or coconut purée. How do you eat it? You can consume it straight by the spoonful or spread it on bread.

So, these are the 5 ways to help you squeeze every single drop of health benefits out of coconut oil consumption.

But how much coconut oil should you eat daily and when should you take it so that you're safe from any potential adverse reactions from ingesting coconut oil? And lastly, how can you max out the full potential of coconut oil so that it's worth every penny you've spent on?

6. How much coconut oil should you eat daily for health benefits?

You should at least take 3 tablespoons of coconut oil orally daily. It's practically pointless if you're not consuming adequate coconut oil daily for health benefits.

In fact, it'll be more ideal if you can ingest more than 3 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. It's actually safe and healthy to consume as much coconut oil as you can. I've heard of people taking 10 tablespoonfuls daily. Unbelievable, right?

7 tablespoons a day is my max. But for the most part I take only 3 to 5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day for health maintenance. And I always take with food or beverages.

If you're just getting started, don't ingest that kind of amount like us. If you do, you might get to "taste" the negative side effects of coconut oil (especially diarrhea) that many people have experienced as a newbie.

Commence with a small quantity like ½ or 1 TEAspoon of coconut oil first before attempting to consume by TABLEspoon.

For example, if you're starting off with 1 teaspoon per day, eat it with your breakfast in the morning, and that's all for the day. Or you can split it 50-50 into twice a day – ½ teaspoon to breakfast, the other half to lunch.

Continue with that amount for about 5 – 7 days. If everything goes well with your body (no diarrhea, nausea or other discomforts), up your coconut oil intake to 2 teaspoons per day and so on.

In essence, increase your coconut oil intake gradually for health benefits until your body is able to adapt better to 3 or more tablespoons per day, without any unpleasant effects.

Note
The more coconut oil you consume daily, the better you should become over time. Especially when you use it to fight off infections or to help with conditions such as dementia, diabetes, obesity, nutrient absorption, liver disease etc.

7. When should you take coconut oil, morning or night?

The best time for you to take coconut oil orally is in the morning and afternoon, and cut back on its quantity at night, preferably 3 – 4 hours before bed.

That's because eating coconut oil can increase metabolism that generates heat. This raises your body temperature and may affect your sleep quality at night. Our body temperature needs to drop a bit for preparation of sleep before bedtime.

Even if you do doze off after a high dose of coconut oil internally during dinner in the evening, your sleep quality might not be that good as you'll probably only enter light sleep and get awakened easily in the middle of the night. You might sweat in your sleep too.

To give you an idea based on eating 3 tablespoons of coconut oil for daily health benefits, you should consume 1½ tablespoon in the morning, 1 tablespoon at lunch, and ½ tablespoon at dinner. Or better, take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. This allows your body to better prep for sleep at night.

You can of course, take coconut oil at night during dinner or even before bed, so long as it doesn't affect your sleep quality.

Did you notice that I suggest more coconut oil in the morning than for the rest of the day?

I recommend taking more coconut oil orally every morning if you're able to. We require lots of fuel to kick-start our morning after a long, restful sleep. Coconut oil benefits us (in this context) by converting quickly to energy to awaken our cells and fuel our body.

When your cells are empowered, they're able to break down and absorb nutrients from your morning meal more effectively and efficiently.

That's why I always take 1½ to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil first thing in the morning, with a nutrient-dense breakfast. Or I'll add more to my lunch if my breakfast intake is insufficient at times.

Another advantage in eating more coconut oil during the day, especially in the morning than at night is that, in case you get the runs from inadvertently ingesting too much coconut oil, you still have plenty of hours for the diarrhea effect to wear off before bed, so you can get a good night's sleep.

8. Which coconut oil to consume for best health benefits?

Being cold pressed and having most of its beneficial properties retained, virgin coconut oil provides the best health benefits.

Want the best virgin coconut oil for your health?
These expert tips will show you how to pick the best virgin coconut oil off the shelf.

However, this unrefined coconut oil will give off an odor that it naturally owns. It smells like fresh coconut and it's aromatic to me, but you may not like it.

If that's the case, then your next best alternative would be pure RBD coconut oil. It's a good quality refined coconut oil that has its natural coconut odor removed but yet get to preserve as much health properties as possible. On top of that, go with the organic one to free your body from additional toxic load.

How about fractionated coconut oil? Is it good for your health?

Although it's another type of refined coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil is no match for virgin (and RBD) when it comes to promoting health and immunity.

This is due to the fact that fractionated coconut oil generally contains only 2 beneficial medium-chain saturated fats, which have limited capability in combating damaging pathogens.

Not all fractionated coconut oils are safe for consumption, did you know that?
MCT oil and liquid coconut oil are the types of fractionated coconut oil you can safely eat.

9. How to make coconut oil work to its fullest potential for you

  1. Smoking
  2. Boozing
  3. Eating junk food
  4. Taking Meat
  5. Sleeping late
  6. Ingesting highly unsaturated dietary oil

Learn to gradually get rid of them. Why? Because they can build up the toxins in your body that will gag the health-promoting potential of coconut oil.

Imagine on one hand you hire an expert to remove the gunk from your body while on the other hand you continue to dump more gunk into your body. How well do you think the expert can perform?

Same principle. If you want coconut oil to unleash its full potential, you absolutely have to put in some effort to eradicate any bad habits or lifestyle that can jeopardize your health.

Otherwise, when those bad habits of yours cancel out the health benefits of coconut oil, the hard-earned money you spend on coconut oil will literally go to waste.

References

  1. Coconut oil health benefits: Why is coconut oil sooo good for us?
    Soon Chai
  2. Effect of Microwave Heating On Fatty Acid Profiles of Three Nigerian Vegetable Oils
    Ojeyemi M. Olabemiwo, A.O. Esan, A. J. Adepoju, Niyi B. Omodara
    IOSR Journal of Applied Chemistry (IOSR-JAC); e-ISSN: 2278-5736.Volume 7, Issue 4 Ver. I. (Apr. 2014), PP 51-54
    .