20 years ago, I read in a magazine that coconut oil was bad for you because it is high in calories and full of the bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol. I was so disappointed because it is some of my favorite food!!! So I avoided consuming it. Then about 5 years ago, new scientific studies reversed the tendency by finding out that coconut oil has incredible beneficial health properties. I was so excited about the news, that the next day I bought some extra-virgin unrefined organic coconut oil. It’s become a part of my daily habits to use it. Here are some top 15 health benefits of coconut oil but the list can go on!
What is coconut oil?
Coconut is a tropical fruit. It is cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and full of plant-based proteins.
Coconut oil is extracted from the white meat inside of coconuts. 60% of coconut oil is composed of 3 fatty acids: Caprylic acid, Lauric acid, and Capric acid. (MCFA’s, medium-chain fatty acids)
90% of coconut oil calories come from saturated fats. Much higher than olive oil and even butter. However, MCFA’s which are quickly treated by the liver, are turned into energy and not fat.
The fatty acids and proteins are abundant in antioxidants that are beneficial to your wellness.
1 tablespoon of coconut oil nutrition facts
- 120 calories
- 0 grams of protein
- 14 grams of fat (12 = saturated fat; 1 = monounsaturated fat; and 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats.)
- 0 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol
Not all coconut oils are healthy. It is the case of partially hydrogenated coconut oil that is a processed oil that has trans fats and is extracted using chemicals. Unlike unrefined virgin coconut oils.
Incredible health benefits
- Boost up your metabolism!
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fatty acids that speed up your metabolism, increasing the number of calories burnt, and are rapidly absorbed and converted into energy by the liver. The capric acid found in coconut oil boosts thyroid efficiency and helps burning fat.
- Reduce your appetite, lose belly fat thus weight!
Eating coconut oil makes you feel fuller. Some studies show that eating MCTs at breakfast reduces the consumption of calories at lunch. As a fat suppressant, it is obvious that it helps lose weight and cut off belly fat that sticks around organs, especially the abdomen. This visceral most dangerous fat increases the risk to have heart disease and diabetes type 2. Studies show that eating 2 tablespoons per day reduce the waist size.
- Increase your good cholesterol!
Coconut oil’s natural saturated fats’ powerful effect is turning the HDL bad cholesterol into the HDL good cholesterol.
These fats help control and lower blood sugar levels, thus battling insulin resistance, responsible for contracting diabetes 2.
- Protect your liver!
Studies on mice show that coconut oil protects the liver from inflammations and damages due to alcohol and toxic compounds. It also has boosted up the activity of beneficial liver enzymes.
It has decreased the accumulation of fat in the liver, preventing diseases such as hepatosteatosis. It has also helped cure urinary tract infections.
- Reduce stress!
Its antioxidant properties are effective antidepressants and good to reduce stress.
- Fight poor digestion!
When taken with vitamins and magnesium, it helps absorb them more efficiently. It also prevents stomach ulcers and inflammation by eliminating toxic bacteria.
- Mend your brain function!
The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil reduce the symptoms of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Turned into ketones by the liver, they supply an alternative energy source to the dysfunctional brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients.
- Treat infections!
The lauric acid found in coconut oil stops the growth and kills bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Its antibacterial characteristics can help treat yeast infection and diarrhea.
- Strengthen your bones!
Polyphenols, antioxidants found in coconut oil help strengthen bone structure and increase bone volume.
Rich in omega 3s, they also relieve the inflammation of the joints caused by Arthritis, reducing the swelling.
- Protect your hair from breaking!
The lauric acid making up 50% of the fatty acids found in coconut oil, penetrates better the hair shaft and substantially reduces protein loss from shampooing. It nourishes your hair, making it look healthier and shinier, protecting it from damage.
- Moisturize your skin!
Coconut is a popular ingredient found in cosmetics to not only improve the appearance of hair but also skin. I use it as a body lotion, hair mask… I treat my cracked heels by simply applying coconut oil and sleep with socks on.
- Heal your wounds!
Coconut oil increases the production of collagen, a protein component of skin. It effectively speeds up the healing of wounds, cuts and its antioxidant properties reduce the inflammation of the skin tissues.
- Protect your skin from the sun!
Coconut oil prevents sunburn by blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, an SPF of 7. It is much lower than the recommended sunscreens which block 90% of UVs. But still, it is good to know!!
- Reduce bad breath!
Its powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties kill bacteria in your mouth when used as an antiseptic mouthwash and reduce bad breath, fight tooth decay, dental plaque, and gingivitis (gum disease). I swish my mouth with coconut oil for about 10 minutes then brush my teeth. It is called oil pulling. Already in Ancient times, it was a popular Indian dental treatment.
- Use it as a deodorant!
Again, its antibacterial components kill bacteria that produce bad odors on your skin. It can be used as a natural deodorant which has no harmful chemicals.
Though the MCTs rich in lauric acid are high in coconut oil, let’s not forget that it is also very high in saturated fat. It is recommended to consume it with moderation, not exceeding 2 tablespoons per day.
Because coconut oil is so rich in saturated fats, there are conflicting reports concerning its health benefits, however, this “superfood” has been part of the Malaysians’ diet for several generations. These populations remain in excellent health while eating a great number of coconuts.
The safe way to consume it is by making sure that it is extra-virgin organic coconut oil because it isn’t harshly processed.
Coconut oil can last up to six months without spoiling.
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