When we talk about certain health benefits of the coconut oil, we are just touching the tip of the iceberg.
Actually, people have been using the coconut oil for all sorts of things with incredible success!
These are the top 10 health benefits of the coconut oil that have been scientifically confirmed in human studies:
1. The coconut oil contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties
The coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat known to man so far, with almost 90% of the fatty acids in it being saturated. This is why it was shunned in the past.
However, new research data show that saturated fats are essentially harmless. The coconut oil doesn’t contain ordinary saturated fats like you would find in cheese or steak. It contains a lot of the so-called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.
Question: What difference does it make?
Answer: Most of the fatty acids in the diet, the so-called long-chain fatty acids, are not metabolized the way medium-chain fatty acids are.
MCTs go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into the so-called ketone bodies, which have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
2. Populaces that eat a lot of coconut are among the healthiest beings on the planet
The coconut is termed “an exotic tropical food” and is primarily consumed by health-conscious people. In some parts of the world, the coconut is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for multiple generations. The best examples of this truth are the Tokelauans and the Kitavans, which live in the South Pacific. These people are in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease.
They get over 60 percent of their calories from coconuts and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world.
3. The coconut oil can help you burn more fat
Obesity is currently one of the common health problems in the civilized world. It’s a fact that different foods affect human bodies and hormones in different ways. In this regard, a calorie is NOT just a calorie.
So, keep in mind this postulate: The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the coconut oil can increase energy spending compared with the same amount of calories from long-chain fats!
4. The lauric acid in the coconut oil can kill pathogens, helping to stave off infections
Almost 50 percent of the fatty acids found in the coconut oil are the 12-carbon lauric acid. When the coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin have been found to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi.
For example, these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and the fungus Candida albicans-a diploid fungus that grows both as yeast and an opportunistic agent that is the cause for many oral and genital infections in humans.
5. The coconut oil can kill your hunger, making you eat less without even trying.
One interesting asset of the coconut oil is that it can keep those pangs of hunger at bay. This may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized because ketone bodies can have an appetite-reducing effect.
In one study, varying amounts of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides were given to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs on average ate 256 fewer calories per day. Another study on 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly less at lunch time.
These studies were small and only done for a short period of time. If this effect were to persist over a long period, it could have a dramatic influence on body weight over a period of several years.
6. The fatty acids in the coconut oil are turned into ketones, which can reduce seizures
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. This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, which leads to greatly increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood.
For some reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children, especially in those who haven’t had any success with different types of chemical drugs.
Because the MCTs in the coconut oil quickly get shipped to the liver and turned into ketone bodies, they are often used in epileptic patients to induce ketosis while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet.
7. The coconut oil can improve blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease
The coconut oil is a well of saturated fats, which actually don’t harm the blood lipid profile as previously thought. Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL (the bad) cholesterol to a benign subtype.
In one study on 40 women, coconut oil reduced Total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL compared with soybean oil.
There are also rat studies showing that coconut oil reduces triglycerides, Total and LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and improves blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status. This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors should theoretically lead to a reduced risk of heart malady.
8. The coconut oil protects hair against damage, moisturizes skin and functions as sunscreen
The coconut oil can serve various purposes that have nothing to do with eating it. Many people are using it for topical cosmetic purposes and to improve the appearance of their skin and hair.
Studies on people with dry skin show that the coconut oil can be a good skin moisturizer and can improve the lipid content of the skin. The coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage. One study shows its effectiveness as sunscreen too, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Another useful application is using it like a mild mouthwash in the process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath.
9. The fatty acids in the coconut oil can improve brain function in Alzheimer’s patients
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and occurs primarily in the elderly. In Alzheimer’s patients, there appears to be a reduced ability to utilize glucose for energy in certain parts of the brain. Ketone bodies can supply energy to the brain and researchers have speculated that ketones can be an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning cells and treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
In one 2006 study, consumption of medium-chain triglycerides led to an immediate improvement in brain function in patients with milder Alzheimer’s. Other studies support these findings, so medium-chain triglycerides are being intensively studied as potential therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s.
10. The coconut oil can help you lose fat, especially the dangerous fat in your abdominal cavity
Given that the coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight. The coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and surrounding organs.
Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
A study on 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 ml (1 ounce) of the coconut oil per day led to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in a period of 12 weeks.
Another study on 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 the coconut oil per day.
These numbers may not seem impressive on the surface, but take heed of the fact that these people weren’t exercising or counting calories! They lost abdominal fat simply by adding the coconut oil to their diet!