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16 Unexpected Ways To Use Coconut Oil

06/11/2015 09:55 am ET | Updated Jun 11, 2016

2015-06-03-1433373777-9501460-coconut_oil_pulling_blog2000x1086.jpgPhoto credit: Paul Delmont, Thrive Market

By Annalise Mantz for Thrive Market

Plain old vegetable oil is so 2000-and-late. Coconut oil is today's choice for those in the know -- and it's more than a flash in the pan.

A lot of the buzz surrounding coconut oil comes from its medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). This type of fat is rapidly metabolized in the liver so it's immediately available as an energy source; it's also easier to burn off and harder to store as fat. Some MCTs, like lauric acid, work to keep you healthy by eliminating disease causing microbes and lowering inflammation.

But coconut oil is good for more than cooking -- it's incredibly versatile. Whether you want whiter teeth or smoother skin, let coconut oil prove how well it can multitask.

1. As a butter substitute in baking

Whether you're vegan, or just looking to cut out some cholesterol, coconut oil easily replaces butter in most baking recipes. Just substitute room-temperature coconut oil for butter at a 1:1 ratio (by weight).

2. On toast

Spread coconut oil on toast for a slightly sweet butter or jam alternative.

3. In bulletproof coffee

By now, you've probably heard of bulletproof coffee -- the coffee, butter and MCT oil concoction gaining popularity as an energy drink. If you don't have butter or MCT oil on hand, coconut oil blended into coffee gives you the same sustained buzz.

4. In a supercharged smoothie

Add some oomph to your morning smoothie with coconut oil. Just a tablespoon or two will give you a boost of healthy fats.

5. To soothe a sore throat

You've probably heard the old hot-tea-and-honey remedy for a sore throat. But a spoonful of coconut oil in tea works just as well!

6. In freezer fudge

Whip up a batch of this vegan, raw, Paleo-friendly fudge in your freezer. Mix together 1 cup of nut butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, and several tablespoons of cacao powder (depending on how chocolatey you like your fudge). Throw it into the freezer for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

7. In oil pulling

Oil pulling -- an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine -- could whitenen teeth, cleans the mouth, and banishes bad breath. To try it, swish liquid coconut oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Spit it out and rinse well when you're done!

8. As a moisturizer

Coconut oil -- or really any oil -- makes a great natural lotion. Just rub a small amount on your skin to gently moisturize your whole body.

9. As a leave-in conditioner

Banish split ends and condition an unruly head of hair by adding coconut oil into your haircare routine. Before showering, rub a small amount of coconut oil through your hair and leave it in for 10 minutes.

10. In DIY body scrubs

If you're into DIY beauty treatments, coconut oil is about to become your new best friend. Make a simple exfoliating body scrub by mixing 1/2 cup of coconut oil with 3/4 cup of brown sugar or sea salt. (If the scrub is too course, add a bit more oil to soften it.)

11. To stop bug bites from itching

The worst thing you can do to a bug bite is scratch it. Instead, slather on some coconut oil. The oil forms a protective layer to allow the bug bites or stings to heal, and even soothes away that annoying itch.

12. As a lip balm

Since coconut oil is so moisturizing, it makes a great natural lip balm. Your lips will feel super soft--and taste like the tropics.

13. In the bath

Skip the bubble bath in favor of some coconut oil and essential oils. Soothing coconut oil will slowly condition your skin, and the sweet scent of your favorite essential oil will help you relax.

14. As a makeup remover

Wiping your face and eyelids with coconut oil will gently remove your makeup and moisturize your skin.

15. To soothe diaper rash

This miracle oil will even do wonders for your little ones if they're suffering from diaper rash. Just smooth a small amount onto the rash, and watch it clear up!

16. As a remedy for lice

The only thing worse than getting head lice may be the complicated process to get rid of them. This easy, natural treatment is much easier than the conventional, chemical-filled method. After rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar, comb it out. Then coat your scalp and hair with coconut oil, and leave it on for 12 to 24 hours.

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