Coconut Oil has been around for ages, but just recently became a ‘superfood hype’. Grocery stores are starting to stock it and so are sports nutrition brands. So let’s find out what the hype is all about.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
There are several different health benefits that coconut oil has to offer, including healing properties, weight loss, and better brain function. Below are a few of the main benefits:
✓ Burn More Fat
Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides. These are the fatty acids that can increase your metabolism. These fatty acids are metabolized differently than the longer chain fats. From the digestive tract, they are sent straight to the liver, where they are then used for energy immediately. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase the calories that are burned over a 24 hour period, by at least 5%.
✓ Improve Blood Cholesterol Levels
The healthy saturated fats found within coconut oil may increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in your body. By doing so, coconut oil may improve other risk factors which can protect against heart disease. These fats can also help convert the “bad” LDL cholesterol into a much less harmful form. Studies also suggest that the consumption of coconut oil can help maintain healthy lipid profiles in pre-menopausal women as well.
✓ Protect Hair and Skin
Coconut oil isn’t made just for eating. Many people also use coconut oil for cosmetic purposes as well; such as improving the health and appearance of their hair and skin. People who suffer from dry skin use coconut oil as a natural moisturizer, which also improves the fat content of the skin. This has anti-aging properties by delaying the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.
Due to the antioxidant properties, it helps with other skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Coconut oil can also be protective against hair damage and improves the overall quality of your hair. It helps increase the strength of hair strands, which allows your hair to grow stronger and longer. Coconut oil can be applied topically for increasing shine quality and decreasing dandruff by reducing the protein loss within the hair.
Ever wondered why so many hair products are advertised as being ‘coconut infused’? Now you know why.
✓ Increase Brain Function
Alzheimer’s disease is a commonly known disease that occurs in elders. Patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s have a reduced ability to use carbohydrates as energy in certain parts of their brain. Doctors and researchers alike have suggested that the medium-chain fatty acids, like the ones that are found in coconut oil, can provide an alternative energy source, and can therefore reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Consumption of these fatty acids has led to improvement of brain function with patients that suffer from a milder form of the disease, found from a study back in 2006.
✓ Improves Immune System
Coconut oil has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties due to the fatty acids it contains. Because of this, it has the capability to strengthen the immune system. It can help fight harmful bacteria like listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is an effective way to fight off the bacteria and viruses that cause diseases such as HIV, herpes, and the flu.
✓ Improves Digestion
Using coconut oil internally, as cooking oil, can improve the digestive system. It also can prevent several stomach problems including IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It possesses antimicrobial properties within its saturated fats. This helps with the bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause indigestion. These healthy saturated fats also helps the absorption of nutrients in food; vitamins, amino acids, and minerals.
✓ Healing Properties and Infections
Believe it or not, coconut oil can also be applied topically to infected areas. When applied, the oil forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, fungi, and various bacteria. Coconut oil can help speed up the healing process of damaged tissues in bruises. It can also kill the viruses that cause the flu, measles, hepatitis, and other serious health risks, according to the Coconut Research Center. The bacteria that causes ulcers, pneumonia, and throat infections, can also be killed off by using coconut oil.
How To Use Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil actually has a melting point of about 76 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike most other oils. This means that it is solid when left at room temperature, and only melts when the temperature rises. This makes it a much healthier oil to cook with.
If you’re using coconut oil for its topical purposes (hair/skin care, infections, etc.), melt the oil from its solid form by keeping the container in the sun or soaking it in warm water. Additionally, you can take some oil out and put it into a small boat and heat it over a flame (or over the stove). Carefully take the oil on the palm of your hand and apply it. For internal consumption, simply replace butter and/or vegetable oils with a coconut alternative.
Take Home Message
Coconut oil has several healing properties and can be used topically and can be consumed. It provides vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin E, and minerals such as iron, which helps aide in these healing properties and health benefits. Remember, completely switching to coconut oil will strip you from the other benefits that are provided by more traditional oils and dairy.