Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.” Its benefits include weight loss, better brain function, skin health and many more.
Here are 10 impressive health benefits of coconut oil.
1. Coconut Oil Contains Fatty Acids With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Coconut oil has been demonized in the past because it contains saturated fat.
In fact, coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat known to man, with almost 90% of the fatty acids in it being saturated.
However, new data is showing that saturated fats are mostly harmless. Many studies with hundreds of thousands of people have found no link to heart disease.
Additionally, coconut oil doesn’t contain your average saturated fats, like the ones you would find in cheese or steak.
They contain Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.
Most of the fatty acids in the diet are long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently.
They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into so-called ketones, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
Coconut oil contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently and can have therapeutic effects on several brain disorders.
2. Populations That Eat a Lot of Coconut Oil Are Healthy
According to studies, people who include coconut oil in their daily diet are significantly healthier than others and have a generally healthier cardiovascular system. Take the Tokelauans for example (a small nation in the South Pacific) – they get over 60% of their calories through coconut oil, and have no idea what heart disease is.
3. Coconut oil will boost your energy expenditure and help you lose weight
Although most people think that the main reason for obesity is consuming way too much calories, others know that the source of calories plays a major role as well. Different foods affect our bodies in different ways, and not all calories are created equal. The MCTs in coconut oil are the perfect calorie source – they will boost your energy expenditure and help you lose a lot of weight.
4.Lauric acid – a powerful antibacterial compound
Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid.
When lauric acid is digested, it forms a substance called monolaurin.
Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi.
For example, these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus (a very dangerous pathogen) and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.
The fatty acids and breakdown products in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent infections.
Coconut oil is the best snack which will curb your cravings and prevent you from overeating. This may be because of the different way the fatty acids are metabolized, or due to the ketones’ ability to curb cravings. One study examined how coconut oil affects the way our body spends calories.
The scientists fed 6 subjects with either medium or long-chain fatty acids, and the men who got the MCTs ate 256 calories less per day. Another study performed on more subjects showed the same, so it’s pretty safe to say that the oil can successfully keep cravings at bay.
6. The Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil Are Turned into Ketones, Which Can Reduce Seizures
A so-called ketogenic (very low carb, very high fat) diet is currently being studied to treat various disorders.
The best known therapeutic application of this diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children.
This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood.
For some reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children, even those who haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.
Because the MCTs in coconut oil get shipped to the liver and turned into ketones, they are often used in epileptic patients to induce ketosis while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet.
The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in epileptic children.
7. Coconut oil can regulate your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease
As we already mentioned, coconut oil is rich in saturated fat which won’t harm your cardiovascular system. In fact, this fat is highly beneficial for our heart health. According to one study, it can regulate your LDL and total cholesterol levels, while also reducing your triglycerides and improving the blood coagulation factor. This will lead to significantly lower risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
8. Coconut oil hydrates the skin and prevents sun damage
Coconut oil can serve various purposes that have nothing to do with eating it.
Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and fat content of the skin.
Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Another application is using it like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath.
Coconut oil can be applied topically as well, studies showing it to be effective as a skin moisturizer and protecting against hair damage. It can also be used as a mild form of sunscreen and as mouthwash.
9. The fatty acids in the oil can treat Alzheimer’s disease
Several studies have shown that the MCTs in coconut oil are beneficial for the brain once turned to ketones in the body. Results from these studies have shown that ketones can act as fuel for the brain and improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease patients. At the moment, ketones are a subject of advanced studies which are trying to see if they can be used as therapeutic agents in patients suffering from milder or advanced forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
10. It will reduce your excess abdominal fat
Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.
Coconut oil appears to be especially effective at reducing belly fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs.
This is the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many chronic diseases.
Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
In a study in 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day led to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in a period of 12 weeks.
Another study in 20 obese males noted a reduction in waist circumference of 2.86 cm (1.1 inches) after 4 weeks of 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day.
This number may not seem too impressive on the surface, but be aware that these people aren’t adding exercise or restricting calories. They’re losing significant amounts of belly fat simply by adding coconut oil to their diet.