Coconut oil is one of the healthiest natural oils available. It contains a unique combination of healthy fatty acids that provide many health benefits. Managing weight, improved brain function, and healthy skin and hair are some of them.
Here are ten benefits of coconut oil and how it can be a healthy addition to your diet.
1. Medicinal Properties of Coconut Oil
Did you know that coconut oil is one of the richest sources of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)? MCTs are known to be the healthiest saturated fats. MCTs are a quick source of fuel compared to long-chain fatty acids since they pass directly to the liver avoiding digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. In the liver, the MCTs are converted into ketones- an alternative energy source to glucose. Ketones are also very healthy for the brain and promote fat burning.
2. Coconut Oil Boosts Fat Burning
An appalling 135 million people in India are affected by obesity today, and this number is only going up. Though obesity directly depends on the number of calories consumed, the sources of these calories are also important. Different foods are metabolized or processed differently.
The MCTs in coconut oil can help increase the number of calories you burn compared to the calories present in long-chain fatty acids. Studies have shown that consuming 15-30 grams of MCTs per day can increase energy expenditure by 5% (120 calories per day).
3. Coconut Oil is Antimicrobial
Coconut oil contains an acid called lauric acid, which is a 12-carbon fatty acid making up about 50% of the total fatty acids present in it. When this fatty acid is digested, it forms a substance called monolaurin and together with lauric acid, the combination can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), viruses and fungi like Candida albicans.
4. Coconut Oil Can Make You Eat Less
Another interesting benefit of coconut oil is that it has a high satiety value. This means that it reduces hunger and keeps you feeling full for longer. This is mainly due to the healthy fatty acids present in it. It is believed to be the way these fatty acids are metabolized into ketones, that have an appetite reducing effect.
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5. The Fatty Acids in Coconuts May Reduce Seizures
The ketogenic diet, also called as keto Diet is a very popular diet trend today. It is essentially a very low carb and very high-fat diet and is currently being studied to understand its benefits for patients suffering from various diseases and disorders.
The best-known application of this diet is to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in children.
Since this diet involves eating minimal carbs and large amounts of fat, it results in increased concentrations of ketones in the blood.
This has resulted in reduced epileptic seizures in children.
6. Coconut Oil Increases Good Cholesterol Levels
Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that bring about an increase in HDL or good cholesterol levels in the body. They also help convert the bad (LDL) cholesterol to a less harmful form.
Since coconut oil increases HDL, it is believed to be very healthy for the heart. A study conducted in 40 women and it was found that coconut oil reduced LDL and total blood cholesterol levels and increased HDL cholesterol levels as compared to soybean oil.
7. Coconut Oil Is Good For Your Skin, Hair, and Oral Health
If you thought that the only way to benefit from coconut oil is by consuming it, you are mistaken. The oil has many uses that one can benefit from without consuming it. A large number of people use coconut oil for cosmetic purposes – to improve their skin and hair health.
Studies have been done on individuals with dry skin that show how coconut oil improves the moisture content of the skin. It is also helpful to reduce the symptoms of eczema. There is one study that shows its effectiveness as a weak sunscreen where it blocks 20% UV rays. It is also said to protect hair against damage.
A dental application of coconut oil is using it as a mouthwash in a process called oil pulling to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth, thereby improving oral health and reducing bad breath.
8. Coconut Oil Can Improve Brain Function
Among the prevalent brain disorders, Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia worldwide. Individuals with Alzheimer's have a reduced ability to use glucose as energy in some parts of the brain.
Researchers have speculated that ketones can provide an alternative source of energy for the malfunctioning brain cells and thereby, reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's. A study conducted in 2006 showed that the consumption of medium-chain triglycerides led to an improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer's disease.
Yet, research is still in the preliminary stages and there is no confirmed evidence to link coconut oil to benefit Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Helpful For Fat Loss
Since coconut oil reduces appetite and increases fat burning, it is also helpful in weight loss, especially in reducing belly or abdominal fat. This is the most dangerous fat of all and can precipitate many chronic diseases.
In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity were given 30 mL of coconut oil per day. It led to a significant decrease in body-mass index (BMI), and waist circumference over 12 weeks.
Another study was conducted in 20 obese males and a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches after 4 weeks of 30 mL of coconut oil per day was observed.
10. Other Benefits
Coconut oil is also easily available at health food stores. If you want to get the astonishing health benefits of coconut oil mentioned in the article, always pick organic, virgin coconut oil that is free from processing and refining.