There are foods and then there are superfoods. Coconut oil, which contains a distinctive combination of fatty acids, belongs to the later. It offers amazing health benefits, including aiding weight loss and improving brain function.
Here are some of the top proven benefits of coconut oil.
1 Great Medicinal Properties
In the past, coconut oil had come under a lot of criticism mainly because of its high saturated fat content. As a matter of fact, coconut oil with 90% of its fatty acids being saturated fats, sits among the top few in the list of the biggest source of saturated fat.
However, new research and data show that the flack coconut got earlier was uncalled for. We now know that the saturated fats present in this oil are harmless.
The fatty acids of coconut oil are diametrically opposite to those in steak or cheese when it comes to their effect on our health. While run-of-the-mill fatty acids (the types present in steak or cheese) are not good for your overall health, the fatty acids of coconut oil are beneficial. In fact, they are extremely good for people with brain disorders, like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy or with a high risk of contracting them due to hereditary factors.
2 People Who Eat Plentiful Of Coconut Are Among The Healthiest In The World
In Western countries, coconut oil is mainly regarded as “exotic” food, mainly consumed by people who are conscious about their health.
However, this is not so in other parts of the world. For example, Tokelauans (people living in Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific) consume a lot of coconuts (more than half of their calories come from coconut) and have almost zero incidences of heart disease.
Another example is Kitavans, who also eat coconut as a staple food and have excellent health.
3 Aids Fat Burning
Without a doubt, obesity is the biggest health hazard in the world. It is estimated that no less than 30% of the world population is obese today!
Obesity is not simply a matter of how many calories you take daily. The source of your calories, i.e. from which foods you take it, matters too.
Different foods have different effects on our hormones and our body. For instance, calories obtained from medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs of coconut oil can lead to more energy expenditure than the same amount of calories obtained from longer-chain fats.
According to a study, eating 15 to 30 grams of MCTs every day can increase energy expenditure by 5% in 24 hours, which equates to 120 calories a day.
4 Helps Fight Infection
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid. In fact, almost half the fatty acids in it are lauric acid. When enzymatically digested, coconut oil leads to the formation of monolaurin.
Both monolaurin and lauric acid help kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. For instance, they can kill the yeast Candida Albicans, which is a common cause of yeast infections, and the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus, which is a dangerous pathogen.
5 Reduces Hunger Pangs
Coconut oil can help you eat less without you even realizing it! This is great news for those trying to shed some pounds.
The ability of coconut oil to kill hunger is attributed to the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized by the body differently than long-chain fatty acids. In a study, 6 men were fed varying amounts of both fatty acids. It was found that men who ate most amounts of medium-chain triglycerides consumed 256 fewer calories a day than those who ate fewer amounts of MCTs.
In another study done on men, participants who ate a lot of MCTs in their first meal of the day consumed considerably fewer calories during lunch than those who did not eat as much MCTs.
While both these studies were done on a small group, for a short time period and are inconclusive as yet, there is strong evidence that coconut oil can help those who want to lose weight. Excess weight is a contributing risk factor for many diseases like heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and others.
6 Improves Cholesterol Level
Saturated fats are plentiful in coconut oil, however, saturated fats do not negatively affect our lipid profile as was thought before.
The saturated fats found in coconut oil increase the count of HDL cholesterol (also known as ‘good’ cholesterol) and turn the LDL (bad) cholesterol into a harmless subtype.
In a study involving 40 women, coconut oil was found to reduce the total as well as LDL cholesterol. It also increased HDL cholesterol.
In short, coconut oil has a positive effect on the lipid profile, which in turn can help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
7 Reduce Risk Of Seizures
There is strong evidence based on recent studies that a ketogenic diet (a diet with very high-fat content and very low carb content) can help treat epilepsy in children whose condition doesn’t improve much with drug therapy.
The ketogenic diet is so-called because it leads to a remarkable increase in ketone bodies in the blood, which in turn helps treat epilepsy conditions.
The medium-chain triglycerides present in coconut oil are broken down into ketone bodies, and that’s why coconut oil is used to treat children with epilepsy. Coconut oil helps to induce ketosis, which as mentioned above, helps improve their condition.
8 Improves Hair And Skin Health
Coconut oil can also be used topically to good effect. When applied on a regular basis, it can improve the health of your hair and skin.
Several studies have shown that people with dry skin benefit from applying coconut oil, which improves the lipid and moisture content of their skin.
This oil also is effective in offering protection against hair damage, as you may realize from shampoos and conditioners touting to contain coconut oil as an ingredient in their products. Not only this, coconut oil is shown to block approximately 20% of UV rays, making it an effective sunscreen.