Virgin coconut oil: Why it’s healthy and how to use it

Virgin coconut oil: Why it’s healthy and how to use it

Coconut oil is grabbing lots of attention lately. Supermodels and celebrities swear by it, downing tablespoonfuls every day to maintain flawless skin and glossy hair. And scientists are studying its disease-fighting powers.

Healthy oils—like virgin coconut oil—are essential to a fast metabolism, too. Here’s how to buy it and try it:

Stick with virgin coconut oil

Virgin coconut oil is the good stuff. It’s pressed directly out of fresh or newly dried coconuts. It’s a unique oil:

  •  Virgin coconut oil is rich in antioxidants (ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, and Vitamin E) that are terrific for skin and can even help wounds heal.
  • It contains lauric acid, a rare fatty acid (found in breast milk, but hardly anywhere else) that boosts immunity and metabolism.
  • Unlike most other fats, virgin coconut oil contains mostly medium-chain fatty acids. Your liver metabolizes these faster than regular long-chain fats, so you’re more likely to burn coconut oil for energy—and less likely to store it as fat. It’s a saturated fat, but a healthy one. (Read more here about good and bad fats.)

In The Fast Metabolism Diet, we use coconut and coconut oil—along with other healthy-fat foods like salmon, avocado, nuts, eggs, and olive oil—to fuel your metabolic fire in Phase Three.

Avoid refined coconut oil, though. It’s usually chemical-laden, bleached, deodorized, and sometimes partially hydrogenated, which creates artery-clogging trans fats. Refining destroys a lot of the healthy antioxidants and essential fatty acids, too.

How does it taste?

Crack open a jar of virgin coconut oil, and you’ll immediately smell fresh coconut. It tastes mild and faintly sweet.

Here are a few ways to try it:

  • Stir it into your morning oatmeal.
  • Sub it for butter. Virgin coconut oil stays solid at room temperature, but melts when it gets a little warm, so you can spread it on sprouted-grain toast or English muffins.
  • Melt it over sweet potatoes, butternut squash—any cooked veggie, really. It’s fantastic with bitter greens like kale.
  • Sauté or grill with it. Your food will pick up the faint coconut taste—think coconut shrimp, chicken stir-fry, and grilled pineapple.

Other ways to use coconut oil

The kitchen isn’t the only place you can use virgin coconut oil. It’s great as a skin moisturizer or hair balm. It makes a fine eye-makeup remover and can even be used for diaper rash. There’s a nice article on the Wellness Mama blog, “101 Uses for Coconut Oil” that includes tips and links to skin-care recipes.

Links included in this article will sometimes direct you to the website, where you can learn more about and purchase many of the products mentioned. Please know that Haylie Pomroy has a financial interest in anything that is sold from

26 thoughts on “Virgin coconut oil: Why it’s healthy and how to use it

  1. wow, I grew up eating, picking coconuts, who would have thought we were eating healthy all along on our little island

    • I’ve found that organic is usually virgin (since people who care about the former care about the latter as well). Check the label to be sure. Costco sells a huge container nowadays (virgin, organic, expeller-pressed (a good thing) for a steal. Best price I’ve seen anywhere… ($16.99 for 54 oz.)

  2. The food list includes coconut cream as a fruit option for phase 3. How much can I have? I mixed it with raw cacao powder and xylitol.

    • It’s better not to fry them – that’s a lot of oil. Instead, toss raw sweet potato pieces in oil and roast them — I roast mine at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes and they taste great!

  3. I use it in a dark chocolate recipe; 1/4 cup melted virgin, organic, expeller-pressed coconut oil, 1/2 cup Cacao powder, Vanilla extract and Stevia (liquid) to taste. I put it in cupcake holders and then in the freezer for 30 minutes. One every now and then helps the chocolate craving and on Ph3 I put it on my morning toast (microwave for 10 seconds), and then spread it. Yummy!

  4. The article mentions grilling pineapple with coconut oil. Am I wrong that pineapple is not a phase 3 food? I would love it to be. Coconut oil can only be used in P3 so coconut and pineapple will never meet. Please correct me if I’m wrong!

    • Hi Lani — this blog post is not phase specific — it’s talking generally about how you can use coconut oil. No, pineapple is not a phase 3 food.

  5. Since I’m commenting, I thought I’d ask about another healthy fat, namely avocado. Is there a guideline for a serving that is by weight? I’m supposed to have 3/4 of one per serving, but I find that so many avo’s are different sizes and I’d love to weigh it and be more precise (unless Haylie says “be liberal”, then I’ll eat all I can!) Thanks!

    • Good point, Lani. They do vary in size. I would go by an average Hass avocado, which tend to be about four inches long. If you end up with avocados substantially larger or smaller than that, then you can make an adjustment.

  6. I have a bottle of Organic Coconut Oil, but it says “refinded” and Haylie said refined is bad. Should i just use it as a handcream and go out and buy Virgin.
    Ingredients are “Mechanically (expelled) pressed naturally refined organic coconut oil” but the front of the bottle says ‘refined”. The brand is Spectrum. $8 for 14 oz.

    • Hi Kristen. Yes, you want unrefined — or raw– coconut oil. But what you have now could be saved for other uses. Or you could keep it for after the diet.

    • Yes, you can have coconut water. It has very little fat in it. If you drink a lot of it (more than a cup) be sure to reduce your healthy fat portion a bit at your next meal.

  7. Christine I have a question about the pecan coconut crusted halibut recipe in the book. It calls for 1/4 cup pecans and 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for 1 serving. I can’t find anywhere that helps me understand the shredded coconut, and it seems like this is 2 servings of fat. The recipe was delicious, by the way. Can you clarify?

    • You know? You’re right – and I think you are the first person who has noticed it. You could certainly reduce the amounts of pecans and coconut by half, but I also don’t think that the extra healthy fat will make a major impact on your weight loss efforts.

      • Thank you for clarifying! My husband and I really loved the recipe, and at the end of that week I was down 3.4 pounds. So I will leave it as is:) Btw, he had his labs done after 5 weeks on the diet, and the results were nothing short of dramatic. Please pass on our thanks to Haylie for a well designed and explained plan for health.

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