Recently, coconut oil seems to have an equal amount of supporters and detractors on its proposed benefits on human health. Coconuts, the oil, milk and water all have medicinal properties that has been used for centuries. It has been hailed as a potential substitute for unhealthy cooking oil, butter in baking and even an ingredient in your morning coffee.
Coconut oil was known as a “bad” fat that raises your cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease; so how did coconut oil gets its bad reputation? Coconut oil contains about 90 percent saturated fat and the general consensus was that saturated fat is bad for you and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, is good for you. This is not exactly true (more on this later). Additionally, studies on coconut oil in the 90’s was conducted using partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which has been altered to help food stay fresh and this creates trans fat.
Virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat and studies have found that it has a lot of benefits from its antioxidant and HDL-boosting effect. Its saturated fat content is mostly of a medium-chain variety, which means that the body uses it up for energy, rather than store as fat in your body, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.
Coconut Oil Can Help Treat Dry Skin
Coconut oil has been proposed as a healthy and natural alternative for sunscreen. However, although it has some UV protective properties it doesn’t have enough. In other words, its SPF rating is not high enough for sun protection. Coconut oil only blocks about 20 percent of UV radiation, according to the “Pharmacognosy Reviews,” and this isn’t enough SPF to protect you in the sun.
It improves moisture in dry skin, as well as the skin condition known as xerosis, which is abnormally dry and scaly skin. A study published in “Dermatitis” found that coconut oil enhances skin hydration and is as effective as mineral oil as a moisturizer for dry skin.
Consuming Coconut Oil Helps Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
Including coconut oil in your diet may help eliminate symptoms (memory loss) associated with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. A pilot study published by the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease” found that coconut oil has the potential to reduce the effects of Beta amyloid (protein pieces believed to cause Alzheimer’s) on the cortical neurons, which are cells in the cerebral cortex. Researchers and partners of people with Alzheimer’s disease also report improvements in symptoms when coconut oil is included in the diet.
More extensive studies are required to determine an appropriate dosage or if coconut oil is more effective with traditional forms of treatment. However, this study does show coconut’s oil potential in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease in those who are vulnerable.
It Helps You Lose Weight and Get Rid of Belly Fat
The medical journal “Lipid” published the effects of coconut oil on women with abdominal obesity or high belly fat. Forty women between the ages of 20 and 40 received a dietary supplementation of either 30 milliliters of soybean oil or the equivalent of coconut oil for three months. The results determined that coconut oil did not cause an increase fat-blood levels and it was effective in reducing belly fat.
Bear in mind that the women in the study also exercised by walking for 50 minutes daily and ate fewer calories than they burned. Therefore, coconut oil can help you lose weight if you are already living an active lifestyle and watching your calorie intake. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, it may not be as effective.
Coconut Oil is a Good Source of Antioxidants
Coconut oil contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols that may help boost your immune system.
“Food & Function” published a study to determine virgin coconut oil’s antioxidant prowess when compared to other oils, such as olive oil and sunflower oil. In the animal study, researchers discovered that virgin coconut oil improved the antioxidant status when compared to the other oils tested. Researchers concluded that virgin coconut oil can improve antioxidant levels, which also helps reduce oxidative stress.
Coconut Oil Stops the Growth of Harmful Microorganisms
Virgin coconut oil’s primary saturated fat is lauric acid, which contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT). The fatty acids are called medium-chain fatty acids and they have been found to be responsible for several health benefits in coconut oil.
Coconut oil has shown antimicrobial properties that are associated with its medium-chain fatty acids. The “Journal of Medicinal Food” published information on virgin coconut oil’s effect on C. diff, which is an infection that causes diarrhea. The researchers analysed data that indicates that coconut oil’s lauric acid stops the growth of C.diff microorganisms.
If you have a problem digesting fat, then MCT’s, such as coconut oil is a good option. You may also be able to use coconut oil with medication for treating gastrointestinal disorders. However, consult a doctor and discuss this research and your options.
It Can Help Improve Cancer Patients Quality of Life
A study set out to find out if virgin coconut oil can help improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients. Sixty patient with stage III and stage IV cancer were given put into two groups and given questionnaires about their symptoms.
The intervention group (those who received coconut oil) had less sleep difficulty, fatigue and appetite issues than those who did not receive virgin coconut oil. The researcher concluded that consuming virgin coconut oil during chemotherapy can help reduce symptoms and improve daily function in breast cancer patients.
The study does not detail what component in coconut oil are responsible for the relief of symptoms and therefore, more studies are required to determine if these benefits will occur with other forms of cancer.
Coconut Oil Increases Your Energy Expenditure
“The results showed that those who consumed a diet high in MCTs burned more fat”
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglyceride’s (MCTs) as previously discussed above. A study shows that MCTs increases calorie expenditure and burns fat in overweight men. Twenty four healthy, overweight men were given either a diet rich in MCTs or LCTs (long-chain triglycerides) for four weeks.
The results showed that those who consumed a diet high in MCTs burned more fat due to a higher rate of calorie expenditure. Therefore, consuming coconut oil can be an aid in weight loss, especially in those who exercise regularly. This benefit of coconut oil is similar to the study above on burning belly fat.
There are more studies with similar results, which indicates that you are very likely to enjoy these benefits from coconut oil. Its status as a medium-chain triglyceride means that the body doesn’t store its calories as fat, but rather use it for energy first. When preparing a pre-workout meal, add a tablespoon of coconut oil or replace it with any other oil you might be using.
Reduces your Appetite and Food Intake
Coconut oil just seems like the perfect food for those trying to lose weight. Not only does it help you burn fat but this study suggest that it helps you control your appetite also. The “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” conducted a study with overweight men consuming 20 grams of MCT with breakfast or LCT in this case, corn oil.
The results found that those who had MCT with breakfast consumed much fewer calories (over 200 calories less) at lunch that those who had LCT with breakfast. This is an effortless way to lose weight and you could easily lose a pound or 2 pounds per week by replacing coconut oil with any long-chain fatty acids in your diet.
Final Thoughts on Coconut Oil
Forget what you have heard, coconut oil is good for you in moderation. It is well suited for high heat, so next time you got some vegetables and skinless chicken breast on the wok, fry it with a teaspoon of coconut oil. You can also add a teaspoon to your smoothie or your coffee.
Go for organic products from reputable brands, I will link some products in the future.