Learn all about coconut oil and its various health benefits!
In this article:
- Reduces Cholesterol
- Reduces Obesity
- Suppresses Appetite
- Helps Prevent Heart Disease
- Contains Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
- Boosts Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Patients
- May Reduce the Occurrence of Seizures
- Protects Bones
- Moisturizes Skin
- Prevents Hair Damage
- Protects Your Teeth
11 Best Coconut Oil Benefits
Coconut Oil: The Superfood
Looking for a tasty “superfood” to bump up your healthy diet? Coconut oil is surely the Swiss Army knife of superfoods with its unique combination of medium chain fatty acids that provide a myriad of positive health benefits.
These fatty acids are metabolized differently than saturated fats found in steak or cheese. You can use it to melt over hot cooked grains, cereals, and veggies.
Also try using organic refined coconut oil for sautéing, stir-frying, and baking. If you prefer a stronger coconut flavor, try virgin or extra-virgin, but remember, it can burn more quickly, making it better for medium to low-heat cooking.
Here are 11 reasons to toss a jar of coconut oil into your grocery basket.
1. Reduces Cholesterol
Coconut oil is rich in a special type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike other forms of fat, MCTs can actually help improve cholesterol levels.
Studies in both humans and rats show that coconut oil improves important risk factors like total, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. What is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol? Often referred to as “bad cholesterol.” High levels of LDL can cause a buildup of plaque in the lining of blood arteries.
What is high-density lipoprotein cholesterol? Often referred to as “good cholesterol.” HDL cholesterol collects and carries cholesterol from different parts of your body and delivers it to the liver which processes the cholesterol and excretes it from your body.
The MCT in coconut oil can help regulate cholesterol levels. The good news is this may translate to a reduced risk of heart disease.
2. Reduces Obesity
Although it’s commonly thought that obesity is only a matter of calories, the source of these calories is important as well. The MCT in coconut oil has been shown to increase 24-hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term.
In fact, one study shows 15-30 grams of daily MCT intake helps burn an extra 120 calories. Apart from enhancing the body’s ability to burn calories, coconut oil has also been found to reduce visceral or belly fat.
3. Suppresses Appetite
Another benefit of MCT is its ability to effectively breakdown in your body and turn into ketones. An increase in ketone levels can help curb your appetite.
In fact, people who consume more MCTs during breakfast eat less at lunch. That’s right, the fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce your ferocious appetite, which in turn can help with weight management.
4. Helps Prevent Heart Disease
The MCT in coconut oil can help promote weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, and it can even help curb your appetite. All of these promote your overall cardiovascular health.
For instance, in the South Pacific, native people eat 60% of their calories from coconuts and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. However, this population is in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease!
5. Contains Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
About half of the fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid. Your body uses the lauric acid from coconut oil and makes monolaurin.
Monolaurin is a chemical which can fight against pathogens, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. On top of that, synthetic versions of lauric acid are used to treat the common cold, influenza, herpes, yeast infections, and warts.
6. Boosts Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Patients
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which impairs mental functioning. Some scientists think this impairment may be caused by changes in the body’s responsiveness to glucose.
For some reason, patients with Alzheimer’s are less able to use glucose to power certain areas of their brain. So they need an alternative source of energy for their brains—this is where coconut oil may be able to help!
Growing evidence shows coconut oil may help improve the mental functioning of Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s patients who were given oral doses of MCT performed better in cognitive tests compared to other patients.
Tip: Some people believe that these brain boosting benefits aren’t only limited to Alzheimer’s patients. For healthy individuals, ketones can serve as an additional source of energy for the brain!
7. May Reduce the Occurrence of Seizures
The MCT in coconut oil can help increase the level of ketones in your body. Apart from promoting weight loss, ketones may also help children suffering from epilepsy.
When children with epilepsy are put on a high-ketone or ketogenic diet, they experience significantly less seizures. In one study, children were placed on an MCT-rich ketogenic diet for three months.
At the end of the study, over 60% of the children had 50% less seizures than they did when the study began. More impressively, about 28% of the children were seizure-free after three months on the diet.
8. Protects Bones
There’s promising evidence which suggests that coconut oil may be able to improve bone health. In one study, a group of rats were given oral doses of virgin coconut oil for six weeks.
The rats who consumed coconut oil had better bone structure and more bone volume compared to the rats who didn’t. The researchers believe the polyphenol content in coconut oil is responsible for this improvement.
Polyphenol contains antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help battle the damage caused by free radicals on bone cells.
9. Moisturizes Skin
If you’ve run out of moisturizer, don’t worry! You can also use coconut oil for your skin care needs!
Coconut oil is great for dry skin because it improves skin hydration and increases skin surface lipid levels. Lipids play an important role in skin repair and protection.
Apart from moisturizing your skin, it can also treat other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema. After eight weeks of applying virgin coconut oil topically, 47% of the patients with eczema reported moderate improvement from and 46% of the patients reported excellent improvement.
Bonus: Coconut oil can help protect your skin from photoaging too! This versatile product also provides mild protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
10. Prevents Hair Damage
Coconut oil isn’t just a great moisturizer, but it also benefits your hair. Applying coconut oil can help reduce hair breakage.
Unlike essential oil or olive oil, the fatty acids in coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft. So when coconut oil is applied as a pre-wash and post-wash scalp treatment, it helps reduce protein loss in hair.
Protein is essential for hair growth, and it helps keep your hair strong. So, losing hair protein can lead to hair loss.
11. Protects Your Teeth
Coconut oil is a natural and effective alternative to commercial mouthwash. Its antibacterial properties are effective against Streptococcus mutans.
Streptococcus mutans are bacteria commonly found in your mouth. This form of bacteria is a major contributor to tooth decay, gum disease, and plaque.
Using coconut oil as your mouthwash, or oil pulling, reduces as much bacteria as an antiseptic mouthwash does. Apart from dealing with troublesome bacteria, it also helps treat gingivitis.
Coconut oil is versatile and offers various health benefits. If you’re interested in these health benefits, you may also want to consider supplements.