One of the few that has the honor to be a member of the class ,, superfoods” is the coconut oil . Its remarkable positive effects on health are due to the unique combination of fatty acids. Among the various benefits, we can emphasize fat loss and brain function improvement.
Here is a list of the 10 most appealing coconut oil benefits, all of which have been experimentally certified in human studies.
1. People who use a lot of coconut oil in their cuisine are among the healthiest People worldwide
Primarily consumed by health conscious people, coconut is kind of an “exotic” food in the Western world. However, in some parts of the world, coconut is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for generations.
An example of such a population is the Tokelauans, which live in the South Pacific.
They are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world and eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts. These people have excellent health, with no evidence of heart diseases (3).
Another instance of a population that eats a lot of coconut and remains in excellent health is the Kitavans.
Bottom Line: Numerous populations around the world have thrived for multiple generations by consumption of large amounts of coconut.
2. Its Fatty Acids Combination Has Powerful Medicinal Properties
Coconut oil contains saturated fat and this is the reason why it has been avoided in the past. The truth is that 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.
Nevertheless, these saturated fats are harmless according to newest research. Many massive studies which include hundreds of thousands of people, offer a proof that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a myth.
In addition, coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill saturated fats as it is the case with cheese or steak.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length can be found instead.
Most of the fatty acids in the diet are so-called long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently.
These , from the digestive tract, go directly to the liver, where they are used as a quick energy source or turned into so-called ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders, like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
Bottom Line: Medium chain triglycerides included in coconut oil, are metabolized differently and can have therapeutic effects on certain brain disorders.
3. The Lauric Acid Kills Viruses and Fungi, Bacteria, Useful to Stave Off Infections
The 12-carbon lauric Acid contributes with almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both, lauric acid and monolaurin, can kill harmful pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi.
These substances have been proved to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus , which is a kind of very dangerous pathogen, and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.
Bottom Line: The coconut oil fatty acids and breakdown products can kill harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent infections.
4. Coconut Oil Can Help you Burn More Fat and Increases Your Energy Expenditure
Nowadays, Obesity is one of the biggest health problems globally. While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, others (myself included) believe that the sources of those calories are critical as well.
It is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. From this point, a calorie is not always the calorie we know.
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats.
One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, which would signify about 120 calories per day in total.
Bottom Line: The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil potentially lead to significant weight loss over the long term since they have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5.
5. Coconut Oil Lowers Your Risk of Heart Disease and Improves Blood Cholesterol Levels
Being loaded with saturated fats, which actually do not harm the blood lipid profile like previously thought, coconut oil contributes in the state of the cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL cholesterol to a benign subtype.
In one study participating 40 women, coconut oil reduced Total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL, compared to soybean oil.
Moreover, there are rat studies showing that coconut oil reduces triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and improves blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status.
In longer terms, this improvement in cardiovascular risk factors should theoretically lead to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Bottom Line: Studies in both humans and rats show that coconut oil may reduce the risk of heart disease, since it improves important risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol.
6. Coconut Oil Can Function as Sunscreen , Can protect Hair Damage and Moisturize Skin
Coconut oil can serve various purposes that have nothing to do with its consumption. Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Various studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin.
Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage. One study even shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays)
Another application is the process called oil pulling, where coconut oil is used as a mouthwash, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil is useful not from the inside only, but it can be effective as a skin moisturizer and protector against hair damage, as numerous studies show. It can also be used as a mild form of sunscreen and as mouthwash.
7. Coconut Oil Kills Hunger, Eat Less Without Even Trying
Interestingly, coconut oil can reduce your hunger.
This may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized, since ketone bodies can have an appetite reducing effect.
For instance, there has been a study conducted, where varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average.
Another study participating 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch.
However, these studies were small and only done for a short period of time. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could have a dramatic influence on body weight over a period of several years.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil may positively affect body weight over the long term, which is a result of the fact that its fatty acids can significantly reduce appetite.
8. Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Fat, Especially The Dangerous Abdominal Fat
Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs. Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.
Abdominal fat is the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many Western diseases.
You can easily measure waist circumference, and this is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
A study, which participated 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplemented them with 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day. This 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 (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day (32).
Note that these people aren’t adding exercise or restricting calories. This number may not seem too impressive on the surface, but they’re losing significant amounts of abdominal fat simply by adding coconut oil only to their diet.
9. Coconut Oil Can Reduce Seizures: The Fatty Acids Are Turned into Ketones
A so-called ketogenic (very low in carb, very high in 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. For some reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children, even in cases when they haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.
This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood.
The MCTs in coconut oil are often used in epileptic patients to induce ketosis while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet, since they go through the liver and turn into ketone bodies.
Bottom Line: The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in cases of children epilepcy.
10. The Fatty Acids Can Boost Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Patients
In Alzheimer’s patients, there appears to be a reduced ability to use glucose for energy in certain parts of the brain.
This disease is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and occurs primarily in elderly individuals.
Ketone bodies can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s, as researchers speculate. They can supply energy for the brain as well.
In one 2006 study, consumption of medium chain triglycerides lead to an immediate improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s.
These findings have been supported by other studies and medium chain triglycerides are being intensively studied as potential therapeutic agents in Alzheimer’s disease.
Bottom Line: Studies show that the fatty acids in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketone bodies, supplying energy for the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and relieving symptoms.
11. Do you need a further reason?
People are using coconut oil for all sorts of things with incredible success. The truth is that this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
If you want to benefit from the immense health properties of coconut oil, make sure to choose organic, virgin coconut oil… not its refined version.
Source: Healthy Food House