Coconut Oil

Is coconut oil the cure-all remedy many claim it to be?
Is coconut oil the cure-all remedy many claim it to be?
iStockphoto/ eli_asenova

Gorgeous South Pacific beach bodies. A conspiracy theory. A substance that could help treat deadly viruses. A natural fountain of youth.

The latest James Bond movie? Nope -- the saga of coconut oil.

For one simple substance, coconut oil is pretty impressive. It has natural germ-killing properties, and it can treat a whole host of skin problems. Some people claim it helps patients with more serious problems, from pneumonia to heartburn. It might even go beyond fixing bodies to fixing planets: One green-minded entrepreneur has even figured out a way to make a car fleet run on it -- and get far more miles to the gallon and less engine wear than with corn-based ethanol [source: Zuckerman]. Plus, it's a natural product -- you can put it on your skin, and you can cook with it. What's not to love?

Not so fast -- not everything you've heard about coconut oil is true, and not every claim gives you the whole story. The repeated medicinal use of coconut oil may carry some serious side effects, such as elevated cholesterol and blood lipids. There are some reports and studies that support certain benefits of coconut oil, but in most cases more research is needed to know for sure.

Whatever the case, this article will talk about the many theories associated with coconut oil, from aiding you in weight loss to improving your skin. Let's start by taking a more in-depth tour of the benefits. Read on to discover why some people are nuts for coconut oil.