Coconut oil has recently become quite the “superfood”. It was previously labeled as unhealthy because it had saturated fats which, due to conventional thought, was believed to lead to heart disease. Today, instead of being touted as a villain, it has become the darling of health buffs and experts.
Coconut oil is made by extracting it from the meat of a mature coconut. And it has been in use for thousands of years by people who live in tropical climates. In fact, the use of coconut oil as food or medicine is quite prolific in most of Asia, South America, Africa, and Central America. For centuries, coconut oil has played an integral role in Ayurvedic medicine. In Panama and Jamaica, it is considered a health tonic that helps prevent illness or treat it. Filipinos use coconut oil to make their hair stay thick, black, and shiny. In Indonesia and Thailand, coconut oil is a cooking staple. And during the past few years, more and more people are discovering how truly wrong the experts were when they stated that coconut oil was bad for you.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
There are really so many incredible health benefits of coconut oil. But, which are the most important? We’ve done the research and compiled together a list of the Top 5 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil.
1. Promotes weight loss
Obesity is a problem that has besieged society for years now. It is one of the biggest health problems in the world. And coconut oil can not only help you maintain weight, it can also help reduce it.
How it works
Though coconut oil has saturated fats, it doesn’t mean consuming it will make you gain more weight. In fact, the fats in coconut oil burns so quickly that it won’t end up being stored in your body. In addition, it can boost thyroid function which increases your metabolism so you get to burn more calories.
Coconut oil is predominantly composed of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These special fats are healthy fats and breaking them down in the liver leads to an increase in energy expenditure or, in layman’s terms, an increase in the burning of energy. One study showed that there was a 5% increase in 24 hour energy expenditure (which is about 120 calories per day) when 15-30 grams of MCTs is consumed per day. MCTs are not only good for helping burn fat in your body. These fats can also significantly help reduce your appetite and we all know how that can positively affect our weight.
To get this health benefit of coconut oil, you’ll need to start drinking it by the spoonful. It may take a while for your body to get used to it so you should start out with a small amount. To get the right amount of MCTs in your body, you’ll need to ingest around 3 and a half tablespoons of coconut oil per day. You can spread out this amount throughout the entire day. You can also replace your current cooking oil with coconut oil if you find it hard to drink it plain.
2. Improves cholesterol levels
In the past, it was believed that coconut oil is bad for your cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease. Fortunately, this belief has been proven to be untrue. Population studies have shown that individuals who consume a large amount of coconut oil have really good cardiovascular health. They also have normal blood cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. In 2010, Harvard scientists conducted a study on dietary fat and heart risk. One of their conclusions was that lauric acid (a dominant component of coconut oil) allows for the production of more HDL than LDL cholesterol.
How it works
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which is a type of medium chain triglyceride. This saturated fat helps increase HDL cholesterol which is the good kind. At the same time, it lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This helps to improve your cholesterol ratio levels. It also reduces the total amount of cholesterol in your body. All of these things happen because lauric acid promotes the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone (a building block for hormones such as cortisone and testosterone) which means the total amount of cholesterol is reduced. To top it all off, coconut oil helps your thyroid function normally which, in turn, helps keep your cholesterol down.
To increase cholesterol health, it is recommended that you consume 3 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. This ensures that you get the required amount of lauric acid in your body.
3. Prevents infection
One of the most amazing benefits of using coconut oil is that it prevents infection. Lauric acid and monolaurin, a monogylceride that forms when coconut oil is digested, are both effective infection fighters. Both of these are able to eliminate bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Coconut oil can be used to treat yeast infection in humans. It has been used to kill bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and ulcers. Coconut oil has also become a treatment for AIDS because of its powerful antiviral properties. It can kill viruses that cause measles, herpes, and influenza, to name a few.
How it works
The medium chain fatty acids (lauric acid) and monoglycerides (monolaurin) prevents infection by making organisms such as bacteria, fungus, and viruses inactive. They are able to do this by disrupting the organism’s lipid membrane thereby destroying them. In addition, monolaurin specifically targets viruses that are lipid-coated such as measles, Hepatitis, influenza, herpes, and HIV.
How to use it
You can apply coconut oil on the “infected area” if you’ve got yeast infection or UTI. To boost your immune system that fights the infection within your body, make sure that you consume 3 tablespoons of virgin (unrefined) coconut oil daily.
4. Natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
Medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil can also help boost brain function by improving cognitive function and memory. These healthy fats also aid in repairing slow neural pathways. In addition, MCTs are a good source of ketone bodies which can supply fuel to the brain. People with Alzheimer’s seem to have some cells in their brains that are unable to metabolize sugar and turn it into energy. Ketone bodies are able to provide these cells an alternative source of energy which helps prevent brain atrophy resulting in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
How it works
Since people with Alzheimer’s have the inability to convert glucose into energy, their brain cells starve and become weaker, unable to handle stress. These cause the brain to degenerate which leads to dementia. Ketones, also known as ketone bodies, are an alternative source of energy that is produced from fat located in the liver. This high-energy fuel is specifically produced for the brain. However, the body doesn’t produce as many ketones as needed to make up for the lack of energy in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Fortunately, MCTs can be converted by the body into ketones. And coconut oil is a good source of MCTs.
Though there is not much research yet done on how much coconut oil should be consumed to help treat Alzheimer’s disease, the current recommended dosage is 4 to 8 tablespoons.
5. Aids in healing and repairing
Coconut oil can be used to heal or repair damage to the skin. When applied on bruises, it can reduce the swelling and redness as well as repairing damaged tissues, all of which hastens the healing process. Coconut oil can also be used to treat bug bites and burns as it speeds up the healing process and stops the itching. In addition, when applied on wounds, coconut oil will create a thin coating on the wound which will protect it from dirt and bacteria. Areas on your skin affected by diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot, and warts can be soothed and healed just by using coconut oil as a topical cream. Lastly, MCTs in coconut oil increase your metabolism which accelerates the healing process, enabling your body to heal and repair faster.
How it works
Coconut oil has a small molecular structure that allows it to become easily and deeply absorbed by the skin, making it smooth and soft – a perfect treatment for dry, rough, itchy skin that is common in individuals with psoriasis and eczema. In addition, coconut oil has short-chain and saturated fatty acids which make it slow to oxidize and prevents rancidity thus it is suitable for treating wounds. Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants (particularly vitamin E), caphrylic acid, and capric acid (both acids are natural microbial and antibacterial agents). These are infused in the skin when applied which then increases the healing process of wounds and burns. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil also protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals or the environment.
How to use it
To prevent infection, make sure to apply coconut oil on the cut, rash, wound, or scrape so that it forms a barrier between the wound and the environment. To treat bug bites, burns, and skin diseases such as psoriasis, you simply need to dab the affected area of your skin with some coconut oil just like you would do with any skin moisturizer.
Natural Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
From burning fat to improving your brain now you know how beneficial coconut oil can be for your health! Hope that you are able to find ways to add it to your diet and get healthier today.