Coconut oil has been used by many cultures for years, but it’s recently been popularized in the Western world. It has been a staple in populations like the Tokelauans, a population in the South Pacific, who consume over 60% of their calories from coconuts and the Kitavans, a population in Papua New Guinea, and proven to help them maintain and increase their health.
It can definitely be classified as a super food and has many healthy benefits to its consumption. Check out just 9 of the benefits of coconut oil.
1. It’s rich in saturated fats.
Saturated fats, once recommended to avoid and thought to be unhealthy, are actually a key reason why coconut oil is so good for you — about 90% of the fatty acids that are in this oil are saturated fats.
On top of that, these saturated fats are not your run of the mill long-chain fatty acids. They’re medium-chain fatty acids/triglycerides (MCTs) — meaning they get metabolized quickly and turned into energy faster or they become ketone bodies (water-soluble molecules that are used to create long-chain fatty acids in the brain). These ketone bodies become energy for the brain and can help improve functioning and have helpful effects on conditions like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
2. It can help you burn fat.
Those MCTs mentioned before also have a pretty critical impact on weight loss. They increase overall energy expenditure through their quick metabolic process.
This makes that saying “a calorie is a calorie” pretty illegitimate. Because when it comes to coconut oil, those calories won’t be getting stored as fat in your body, but actually burned quickly and turned into energy. Some studies have shown that they can increase it by up to 5% which evens out to around 120 calories a day.
3. It kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
During the digestion process, coconut oil’s enzymes turn into monolaurin (a monoglyceride with antibacterial, antiviral and other antimicrobial effects).
In addition, nearly 50% of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are Lauric acid which has been known to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
And together, both have been linked to eliminating Staphylococcus Aureus (“Staph”) and the yeast that causes most yeast infections, Candida Albicans.
4. It reduces hunger cravings.
It’s thought that due to the way these MCTs are metabolized and the ketones that they form, it could result in an effect that reduces your appetite. In multiple studies, men who consumed the most MCTs (especially at breakfast) ended up eating fewer calories overall compared others.
5. It can reduce the likelihood of seizures.
Diets called ketogenic diets are being studied and implemented due to their positive effects on the brain. These diets are rich in fat and low in carbohydrates to increase the concentration levels of ketones.
These diets are being looked at for the treatment of multiple disorders and conditions, epilepsy being one of those. Researchers have found that a ketogenic diet can significantly decrease seizure rates for children with epilepsy. This has even proven effective in children that haven’t been able to use drugs.
6. It has a positive impact on cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats are great for increasing the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol and lowering the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as the “bad” cholesterol.
Because of its high content of saturated fats, coconut oil consumption has been associated with better overall total cholesterol numbers as well as increasing HDL and lowering LDL and triglyceride levels.
This positive impact on cholesterol makes it great for reducing your risk of heart disease.
7. It can protect your hair and skin.
There’s no need to eat it in order to get this benefit. Researchers found that applying coconut oil to dry skin is great for moisturizing and improving the lipid content of your skin.
Compared to sunscreen, coconut can stand on its own when it comes to hair protection from sun damage. One study even found that it blocked up to 20% of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Oil pulling (basically using coconut oil as a mouthwash) has proven effective in killing bacteria and improving breath as well.
8. It helps reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Those ketone bodies are beneficial for another reason — helping symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown improvement in brain function and reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients when they consume MCTs.
9. It can help you lose weight.
Remember that appetite reduction we talked about before (see # 4)? That in combination with increased fat burning, has shown that it is effective in losing weight.
In fact, studies showed a decrease in abdominal fat or belly fat (which is the most dangerous place to store fat as it has been linked to the development of multiple diseases) among those who simply added it to their diet.
That’s it. No added requirement for exercising or changing their diet. Just by adding coconut oil, participants saw significant results.
Given all of these benefits, if your looking to incorporate more coconut oil in your diet, check out these tips below:
- When purchasing, pick the organic virgin coconut oil and avoid the refined coconut oil.
- Cook with coconut oil by substituting it for olive oil. It adds a nice flavor to chicken and sautéed veggies.
- If you’re using it to cook and for beauty care, consider purchasing two bottles; one for the bathroom and one for the kitchen.
- Still stumped on how to use it? Just do a quick search in your search engine and your bound to come up with plenty of recipes and ways to cook with coconut oil.