6 Natural Oils and Their Health Benefits
We have a slight obsession with oil ... we eat it, drink it, rub it on our bodies, massage it into our hair, and use it as some pretty powerful medicine (and we’re not talking about petroleum). There are so many different kinds of oils to help our bodies thrive, and they each have their own unique value.
So exactly which kind of oil should you use for what? Let’s talk.
The all-around best oil for all of your deepest, darkest needs, coconut oil has qualities that are pretty darn impressive. First of all, it is great for use in cooking, as it is 90 percent saturated fat, meaning it has an extremely high smoke point in comparison to other oils. It solidifies above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and is able to store for years without spoiling. Its medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to fight off viruses, balance cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss.
Coconut oil also has wonderful medicinal properties, as it is rich in lauric acid, which is not only antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, but has unique properties that make it an efficient fuel source for the human body. It can be burned for energy rather than stored as fat. It also works as a great moisturizer for skin, hair and lips, since its fatty acids create a barrier to lock moisture in. You can mix it with sugar or salt for a great DIY moisturizing exfoliator. We drink it daily in our morning cup of joe.
Benefits: May boost immunity, reduce inflammation, fight bacteria/fungus/infections/viruses, soften and moisturize the skin, assist in weight loss and increase mental clarity.
Uses: Skin moisturizer, natural deodorant, makeup remover, teeth whitener, hair smoothing serum and conditioner, massage oil and personal lubricant.
Grapeseeds are a byproduct of winemaking—and with all the wine in this world, naturally there are a lot of grapeseeds! The oil of grapeseeds is a good source of vitamin E and oleic acid, a fatty acid that has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of stroke. It emulsifies really well, so it’s great for use in spreads and dips. Cold-pressed grapeseed oil has a rich profile of polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamin E and linoleic acid. Some studies suggest that the regular ingestion of grapeseed oil can repress the development of certain cancers. Additionally, the antioxidants in grapeseed oil are powerful enough to protect the skin against UV radiation. You can use it to make your own natural sunscreen! Just be sure to only purchase cold-pressed grapeseed oil! Other processes of extracting oil from grapeseeds involve high heat and harsh chemicals such as hexane.
Benefits: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging and antimicrobial.
Uses: May be useful in the treatment of many health ailments, including arthritis, sunburn, chapped lips, hair loss, hypertension, high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
From the fattiest fruit on earth, avocado oil is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are proven to improve cholesterol numbers. Avo oil also contains lutein, an antioxidant that improves eye health. It has the highest smoke point of any plant-based oils, at 520 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a great ingredient for cooking at high temperatures. Avocado oil is high in a compound called sterolin, which has been proven to reduce the appearance of aging spots. It also contains potassium and lecithin, both vital nutrients for skin and hair. It facilitates the healing of wounds and is effective in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema.
Benefits: May lower blood pressure, boost absorption of carotenoids in food, improve arthritis symptoms, treat skin conditions and prevent gum disease.
Uses: Hair mask, skin moisturizer, mouthwash and cooking oil.
Pumpkin seed oil
Purported to be the “new” coconut oil, this rich, emerald-colored liquid, extracted from pumpkin seeds, has been used as a medical treatment for intestinal parasites. Its antioxidant and essential fatty acid profile has been shown to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels. It is also high in vitamins A, K and E as well as zinc—all great for moisturizing the skin and aiding cell regeneration to get you that beautiful, healthy glow. Additionally, it has been shown to inhibit the activity of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which slows hair growth, to give you a long, gorgeous mane. Pumpkin seed oil should not be heated in order to reap its nutritional benefits, so it is best used in salad dressings and dips. You can even put it in your smoothies.
Benefits: May support hormonal and reproductive health, boost libido, help maintain collagen levels, promote prostate health and improve cholesterol levels.
Uses: Skin moisturizer, hair serum, salad dressing and antiparasitic.
Almond oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamins A, B and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Almond oil is a great conditioner and moisturizer for both hair and skin, as it contains moisture-sealing properties that will keep your hair and skin hydrated and glowing. It not only repairs split ends, but also prevents hair from future breakage.
Benefits: May lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, relieve itching and redness, regenerate skin cells, improve blood circulation, tighten dull skin, boost immunity, aid digestion and prevent hair loss.
Uses: Remove dark under-eye circles; remove makeup; treat chapped lips; leave-in conditioner, hair serum; relieves joint and muscle pain.
Hemp oil is unique in that it contains more essential fatty acids than any plant-based oil on Earth. It contains omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, which may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also contains omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid, which has been shown to improve skin conditions. Omega 3s and 6s are often unbalanced in the typical American diet, so hemp oil is a great way to get your double dose of each.
Benefits: Contains antioxidants; supports healthy skin/hair/nails; contains DHA—an essential fatty acid for brain development; promotes healthy flora in the intestines and may boost immunity.
Uses: Great omega-3 supplement (mercury-free alternative to fish oil), massage oil, moisturizer, lip balm and salad dressing.