As a college student, it’s easy to see how Friday nights filled with beer and late night chicken tenders steer you off a healthy track well before Thanksgiving break rolls around.

The problem is that it can be a struggle to decipher which health food crazes are actually effective and which ones are a total fluke.

As confusing as it can be, there is one previously knocked superfood that is worth getting all hot and tropical about: coconut oil.

coconut oil

Photo by Angelina Marioni

Coconut oil is the substance extracted from mature coconuts. The oil is extremely high in saturated fat, but since it comes from a plant instead of an animal, the fatty acids are composed of different properties. For a more in depth look, read here.

Why should you add this superfood into your daily diet? The list of health and cosmetic benefits of coconut oil is extensive, but some of these main health benefits may come as a surprise:

1. Kick colds quicker

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Coconut oil can shorten the duration of a cold due to its ability to kill bacteria and fight viruses. After three days of adding coconut oil into your diet, you can kiss those sniffles goodbye.

2. Shrink into skinny jeans

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Coconut oil can help you drop those last few pounds because it contains properties that rev up your metabolism. Since the oil is high in fat, it is filling and can help curb hunger throughout the day. Some studies have shown that coconut oil also reduces abdominal fat.

3. Ditch the morning joe

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Since coconut oil is metabolized quickly through the liver, it boosts energy and increases endurance. So when you are going from class, to the gym, to a cram sesh, to happy hour, and need some extra power, coconut oil can replace or be added to coffee.

And let’s be honest, a three-hour calculus test is basically the same as a marathon, right?

4. Make your dentist proud

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Oil pulling can seem gross at first, but it is highly effective in improving oral health. Swish around a spoonful for coconut oil for 5-20 minutes (I promise you can do it that long) to fight bad breath and gingivitis, kill plaque and bacteria, and naturally whiten your smile.

5. Settle a sensitive stomach

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Just like killing germs in your mouth, coconut oil fights bacteria in your stomach. Adding the oil into your diet can help calm any grumblings from those accidental nacho binges.

How to add it into your daily diet

Coconut oil is easy to incorporate into your diet, even if you live in the dorms. The best way to use it is to cook, so if you have access to a kitchen, swap olive oil or butter for coconut oil.

Or try adding a spoonful to your tea/smoothie/coffee, in pasta sauce or oatmeal, on popcorn, or just about anywhere else you can think of.

To satisfy that nagging sweet tooth, try out these dark chocolate coconut bars or whole grain chocolate chip banana bread muffins.

No need to pack your bikini or sunscreen to get this miracle worker, just head to any specialty food store and snag a bottle. You’ll be on your way to a sneeze-free, waist-cinched, energy-boosted life in no time.

Check out these great articles about coconut oil: