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When I was younger, my mom talked a lot about “superfoods.” My eight-year-old brain thought of fruits and vegetables dawning capes and attempting to thwart criminal masterminds – in reality, it’s quite different. Superfoods are foods that have nutrients and vitamins that benefit your health. Most fruits and vegetables qualify as superfoods, but only when in their simplest form – raw and organic. I’m not telling you to go to a health-food store and pick up one of those green smoothies that have the consistency and taste of grass clippings, it’s much simpler than that. The superfood that pops into my head is coconut, specifically coconut oil. Here is a list I have compiled after many discussions with my mom and several years of using coconut oil religiously. 

1. HAIR: Many people complain about split ends or dandruff or simply wish their hair seemed fuller and healthier. Not only does it improve the health of your hair, coconut oil can speed up the growth of hair as well. Coconut oil can be a solution for that and can be applied in different ways. It can be applied to wet hair and left in for a few minutes before being rinsed out, it can be applied to dry hair and left overnight, letting the nutrients sink into your hair. Note: wear a shower cap over your hair – coconut oil will stain pillowcases. The result: softer, smoother and healthier hair. Bonus: it smells amazing.  Looking for a quick boost to your hair in the morning? Take a small amount of coconut oil and run it through the ends of your hair.

2. SKIN: Coconut oil is amazing for dry skin, especially for your hands and feet. During the winter, your skin is left chapped and dry. Coconut oil protects your skin from the damage caused by harsh winter weather.

3. OIL PULLING: My mom has roped me into many strange diets featuring suspiciously colored foods, questionable fashion choices and over-the-top remedies that promise to cure everything from a cough to chronic migraines. Among these seemingly random cures and remedies she suggested oil pulling. Take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth. My mom suggests 20 minutes – but I draw the line at 15. This process helps whiten your teeth as well as reduce the risk of gingivitis and plaque buildup. It pulls the toxins out of your mouth that cause bad breath. After swishing for however long you choose, spit out the coconut oil into the trash – it can clog the drain of your sink – and rinse out your mouth. The coconut oil leaves a coat of oil across the teeth. Make sure to do this once a day and on an empty stomach!

4. FOOD: Many people cook with butter or grease when cooking baked goods or cooking in a pan. A healthier alternative to this can be coconut oil. It performs the same basic function as either does – preventing the food from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If you’re not a fan of using grease when cooking or – like my twelve-year-old cousin – refuse to eat  “cute little pigs,” this presents an animal-friendly and successful alternative for your cooking.  It doesn’t replace butter within baked goods, but still work to keep them from sticking to the baking dish.

Suggestion: Store coconut oil at room temperature. In the tub it is a solid but turns to liquid when the temperature rises.

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