Is coconut oil good for you? That depends on who you talk to.

Superfood enthusiasts love the product, which has been used as skin moisturizer, cooking oil and as an ingredient in baked goods. They tout its ability to fight viruses, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and much more.

But it isn't quite gaining full acceptance among medical experts. Coconut oil is more than 90 per cent saturated fat, which is generally considered a "bad" fat that increases cholesterol levels. In the Cleveland Clinic's comparison of olive oil vs. coconut oil, olive oil came out definitively on top for heart health.

Supporters, however, say that its saturated fat content isn't all bad. Medium-chain fatty acids make up about half of coconut oil's saturated fat, and those are easier to digest than long-chain fatty acids that you find in butter and other oils, but more study is certainly needed.

Though the debate around its healthy qualities persists, coconut oil's proponents have nevertheless found innovative ways to incorporate it into their lifestyles.

Here are several ways that coconut oil has been used to make people's lives better:

  • Oil Pulling
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    Tired of Listerine? Try oil pulling!

    Using coconut oil instead of mouthwash is believed to do a better job of getting rid of plaque and other bacteria in our mouths, and boosting the immune system overall.
  • Moisturizer
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    Coconut oil works better on the skin than some commercial moisturizers because many major brands use petroleum-based chemicals that can suffocate the skin, says celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. The oil strengthens tissues and removes excessive dead cells on the skin's surface that can make it dry and rough.
  • Stimulating Hair Growth
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    Coconut oil can help hair grow long, strong and healthy. It also helps keep the hair shiny, says Palmer's, which produces its own coconut oil formula.
  • Coffee Creamer
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    Coconut oil works great in coffee if you do it correctly, writes Becca Ludlum at My Crazy Good Life.

    First, you make a cup of coffee, then pour half into a blender or a frother. Add one to two tablespoons of coconut oil, milk, and five to seven scoops of Stevia. Then froth and blend.

    According to Ludlum, you'll end up with a delicious latte.
  • Salad Dressing
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    Coconut oil can also make a good salad dressing. Epicurious has a recipe for a sweet maple and coconut dressing that combines coconut and olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard, sesame seeds and more.
  • It's Better than Butter
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    Coconut oil can be used in the same way that you might use dairy butter or vegetable oil, says Artisana Organic Foods. You can spread it on toast, use it to cook food on the stove and even try it in place of vegetable oil when baking.

    It's better than butter and trans fats, Penny Kris-Etherton, a cardiovascular nutrition researcher, told Web MD, though she warned that it's not better than vegetable oils.
  • In Smoothies
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    The Smoothie Recipe Handbook has several ideas for using coconut oil in your favourite blended drinks.
    To avoid clumping, notes Wellness Mama, melt the oil slightly and add slowly as the smoothie is being blended.
  • In The Bath
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    Nohona Products promotes its coconut oil as an all-over body moisturizer. It recommends adding a little bit to your bathwater to help heal ailments such as burns and rashes.
  • For Eczema
    The National Eczema Association in the United States has seen coconut oil work effectively to treat the skin condition.

    Heidi Carolan from England reported a massive improvement in her son's skin after using coconut oil and soap nuts. She said the oil is lovely on his skin and easy to apply without much touching or rubbing, which can further irritate the condition.
  • Cuticle Oil
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    Problems with hangnails? Try coconut oil! It helps to soften cuticles and moisturize hands, says dermatologist and author Dr. Ava Shamban.
  • In Curries
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    Coconut oil makes a great addition to many curry recipes, giving Indian dishes a dash of extra flavour, BBC reports.
  • For Baking Cookies
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    Yes, you can even use it in cookies. It can enhance flavours, and if you use refined coconut oil, you can make chocolate chip cookies that taste just like the regular kind, says the Culinary Couture Blog.
  • Frying Eggs
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    Coat the bottom of a skillet with coconut oil to create a non-stick surface, then crack a couple of eggs to ensure they have an extra coating of flavour, says Swanson Health Products.
  • Add to Oatmeal
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    Coconut oil adds a "buttery richness" to oatmeal, writes Anjali Malhotra at the Perfect Morsel blog. It tastes great AND it's healthy.
  • On Popcorn
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    Who needs butter on your popcorn when you can use a healthier alternative? You can either heat coconut oil on your stove (being careful, of course) and pop kernels in it, or air pop your kernels and toss them in two tablespoons of coconut oil.
  • Sunscreen
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    Coconut oil was the original sunscreen, says the Coconut Research Center. It doesn't block UV rays like other sunscreens do: it lets in beneficial UV rays, the kind that allow for some natural vitamin D. For those coming out of winter with very pale skin, though, we'd suggest getting some SPF on you as well.
  • For Stretch Marks
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    Coconut oil can help make stretch marks from weight loss and gain, pregnancy or even just growing go away. It has moisturizing properties and antioxidants that can nourish the skin, says

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  • Hydrogenated coconut oil is not a great choice

    Coconut oil got its bad reputation in part because of its use when hydrogenated. <a href="" target="_hplink">Hydrogenated oils</a> and <a href="" target="_hplink">trans fats</a> are especially unhealthy because they both raise our LDL or "lethal" cholesterol while lowering our HDL or "healthy" cholesterol. If you purchase coconut oil, look for labels that say "virgin" and make sure it's not hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated and contains no trans fats.

  • Vegans dig it:

    Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it makes a great substitute for butter, margarine, or other spreads. Vegans don't eat any animal products, including butter or margarine, which makes <a href="" target="_hplink">coconut oil a great alternative</a> for them. So do Paleo dieters: People following a Paleo diet eschew dairy, which means they don't eat butter. <a href="" target="_hplink">Many of them have turned to coconut oil</a> as a delicious substitute.

  • They do have saturated fats

    It's true that coconut oil <a href="" target="_hplink">contains saturated fats</a> — 12 grams per teaspoon, in fact. If you are supposed to be watching your saturated fat intake, talk to your doctor before adding coconut oil to your diet.

  • It's rich in medium-chain fatty acids

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Medium-chain fatty acids</a> have molecules that are composed of eight to ten carbon atoms, compared to the 12 or more found in the more-common long-chain fatty acids. There is some research indicating that MCTs can help with weight loss, though this potential effect isn't fully established yet.

  • It's delicious

    Coconut oil doesn't taste as strongly of coconut as coconut milk or meat, but it does have a lighter version of that flavour, without overpowering dishes. Try it spread on toast <a href="" target="_hplink">instead of butter</a>! You might be quickly converted.

  • It's not a miracle food

    No single food is a magic bullet, coconut oil included. An internet search will bring up dozens of webpages claiming that coconut oil can do everything from clear up your acne to cure cancer. It'd be great if that were true, and research into the food continues, but there is no scientific evidence supporting the majority of the health claims made for coconut oil.

  • It's a source of lauric acid

    The majority of the saturated fat in coconut oil is in the form of lauric acid, which is why many consider it to be a <a href="" target="_hplink">healthier choice than other fat sources</a>. There are studies that show that lauric acid can increase your HDL or "healthy" cholesterol and lower your LDL or "lethal" cholesterol.

  • It's high in calories

    Regardless of the form it comes in, each gram of fat has nine calories. So if you're on a calorie-restricted diet, you'll want to watch your coconut oil intake—like any oil, it's <a href="" target="_hplink">high in calories</a>. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy it in moderation, whether it's for the taste or any potential health benefits; it just means you'll have to account for it in your daily intake totals.

  • It's great for your skin

    Dreading dry winter skin? Buy a jar of coconut oil — it makes a great moisturizer from head to toe, <a href="" target="_hplink">particularly for dry lips</a> and rough hands and feet.

  • Diaper cream

    It's thought that coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties—that and the fact that it's moisturizing and gentle makes it a great choice for an all-natural diaper cream or baby salve. As a bonus, it's safe to use with cloth diapers.

  • Massage oil:

    Like other natural options, <a href="" target="_hplink">coconut oil is great to use for massages</a>. And the fact that it's solid at room temperature makes it a less messy option than liquid oils. You'll be moisturized and relaxed!