The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil

The Amazing Benefits of Coconut Oil

Often referred to as the tree of life, the coconut tree is considered one of the most useful trees in the world. Aside from the numerous health benefits derived from its fruit, the coconut tree can also be used for fuel, cosmetics, folk medicine, and building materials, among many other uses. Today, we will focus specifically on the benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut oil is most widely known for its use in cooking. This plant-based oil comes from the nut (fruit) of the coconut palm, which is extracted by cold pressing the coconut flesh. Typically, this means that a mechanical method of pressing out the oil is used, but without the use of any outside heat source. The high pressure needed to press out the oil generates some heat naturally, but the temperature is controlled so that it does not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This fat has a melting point of 25 °C and is reasonably stable to oxidation when exposed to the air. Therefore, coconut oil is usually stored at room temperature. The oil is also highly resistant to oxidation at high heat which makes it suitable for high-heat cooking methods, like frying.

Coconut oil has been a hot topic for quite some time now due to its multitude of claimed health benefits. Nutritionally speaking, coconut oil has very high levels of saturated fats which are generally considered not as good for your health. But new research suggests that saturated fats are not as unhealthy as what was previously believed. Coconut oil has many health benefits, including claims of reducing extra belly fat, suppressing appetite, boosting the immune response, preventing heart disease, helping avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases, and treating eczema and itchy skin (psoriasis). It can also be used as an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent, but studies on these claims are still ongoing and unclear.

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Some Claimed Benefits of Coconut Oil:

1. Aids in Weight Loss

There have been many reports of coconut oil being promoted for weight loss, however, studies show mixed results. It’s important to note that solely adding coconut oil to your diet is not enough to lose weight. The best way to achieve any weight loss goals is a combination of exercise and proper nutrition.

Coconut oil is a good source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and is generally considered beneficial to human health. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are metabolized differently compared to long-chain triglycerides.

Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes. They’re either burned for energy or stored as body fat. These medium-chain triglycerides contain fatty acids and can encourage your body to burn fat. They can also provide a quick energy source for your body and brain and are less likely to be stored as fat. There is also a study that shows MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptides and leptin, which are the hormones that help reduce appetite and increase the feeling of fullness. However, MCTs can also be stored as body fat if excess amounts are consumed.

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2. Promotes Good Cholesterol

We often hear about the differences between good and bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is technically known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), while bad cholesterol is low-density lipoprotein (LDL). High levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) can boost your body’s cardiovascular health.

MCTs that are rich in coconut oil have been linked to boosting good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol in the body. Improvements in your cholesterol levels will consequently lead to better cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of heart disease. Still, studies focused on the impact of coconut oil on cardiovascular health are ongoing and there is no conclusive evidence available to date.

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3. Controls Blood Sugar

Recent studies suggest that coconut oil has a positive impact on controlling blood sugar. A study conducted on 9 healthy men showed that consuming coconut oil for 8 weeks improved their body’s ability to use insulin to transport blood glucose to cells.

MCTs in coconut oil may help lower blood sugar levels, which could be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes. However, further study is needed to support this claim. Investing in a healthy lifestyle, including eating more whole foods, avoiding sweets and processed foods, and exercising regularly, is still the best way to maintain healthy blood sugar.

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4. Improved Brain Function

Coconut oil has large amounts of MCTs, which are broken down into ketones that can be used by brain cells for fuel, especially by those with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is characterized by the brain’s reduced ability to use glucose for energy, and researchers have suggested that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for the brain. Further study is required to support these claims.

5. Healthy Skin and Shiny Hair

Coconut oil also has a wide variety of cosmetic benefits. It can be applied to your skin as a moisturizer and can reduce the symptoms of eczema. Coconut oil can also be applied directly to your hair to protect it from damage. Surprisingly, coconut oil can block about 20% of UV rays.

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6. Antimicrobial Factors

Lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. When lauric acid is digested in the body, it forms a substance called monolaurin. Both monolaurin and lauric acid can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Nevertheless, these claims are still unclear, and more research is needed.

These are just some of the claimed benefits of using coconut oil orally or simply topically. All of these claims still need further research but when consumed in moderation, coconut oil does not seem to pose any harm to the body.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, these are the nutrition facts for a 1 tablespoon serving of coconut oil.

  • Calories 121
  • Protein 0 g
  • Fats 13.5 g
  • Saturated fat 12.2 g
  • Carbohydrate 0 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 0 g

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With so many different purported benefits of coconut oil, it is worth a try! Do note that the coconut oil that you buy is not all the same. Ideally, look for organic, cold-pressed, unrefined virgin coconut oil in a glass jar. This will allow you to retain all the helpful enzymes, antioxidants, and fatty acids that coconut oil provides while avoiding any potentially damaging chemicals.

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