Health Benefits of Coconut Oil: What Is All the Hype About?

coconut oilHave you always been concerned about what you eat? Are you the type of person who always wants to keep it on the healthy side? Do you always make it a point to include only the healthiest foods in your meal? If yes, then how much have you been eating in terms of fats?

Wait, FATS? Yes, you read that right. Because part of eating healthy is getting your body the right amount of fat it needs, particularly saturated fats. And one of the best ways to get it is by getting the right amount of coconut oil.

You may hear from experts that saturated fats or adding coconut oil are not good for you because it can result to heart diseases, high cholesterol and obesity. Apparently, that is not the case now. With the advancement of medicine, experts are slowly unveiling and finding solutions to common yet old problems. And new studies suggest that coconut oil is actually good for the body and has a lot of health benefits.

So what is this coconut oil craze all about? What are the benefits of coconut oil to our body? Is it really worth trying? Read on to find out.

What’s in a Coconut?

Coconut oil is one of the foods that are classified as “superfood” because of the many benefits it brings. Part of the vegetable oils group, it is a powerful destroyer of all sorts of bacteria, viruses and other elements that can be harmful to the body. At the same time, it gives your body the needed high quality fat for optimal health.

So what is in a coconut oil and what makes it extra special?

Almost 50% of coconut oil contains lauric acid. In fact, coconut oil is the most abundant source of lauric acid than any other substances on Earth. Once taken, the body converts the lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can help you destroy and get rid of lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes or measles. In other words, it can increase your immune system to fight viruses and diseases.

Aside from this, coconut oil also contains polyphenols which is responsible for fragrance and taste. It also contains polyunsaturated fatty acid such as linoleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acid like oleic acid.

At the same time, coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids or MCFA. MCFAs are easily digested and converted by your liver into an instant source of energy. And because it goes directly to the liver, it can also help increase your metabolism and prevents the accumulation of fats.

But what if you are diabetic or have gall bladder problems, is coconut still safe?

Of course! Again, since the MCFAs are sent right to the liver, there is no need for bile or pancreatic enzymes to digest it, making it safe and healthy for you. Plus, it does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream so you do not have to worry about your rising blood sugar.

beautiful woman holding coconutSo How Does Coconut Oil Benefit Your Health and Body?

A lot! Overall, coconut oil has a wide range of benefits not just in your health but in helping you change your lifestyle too. It promotes a healthy heart and brain while giving your metabolism a boost – a perfect aid for your weight loss goals. And good news for all women because coconut oil can help you maintain a healthy and youthful looking skin.

So to give you an idea on how coconut oil can do wonders to your body, here are 10 (and more) essential benefits of taking this ingredient (plus reasons on why you should take it too).

It Is the Tropics’ Best Kept Secret

Did you know that people who live in tropical areas where coconut is abundant are among the healthiest people on the planet? Yes, that is true. For instance, the Tokelauans, a Polynesian community who live in the South Pacific, eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts. In fact, they are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world, yet they are still in excellent health and with no evidence of heart diseases.

And if you notice, those who live in Pacific coastal areas who use coconut oil everyday are normally not on the heavy side. This only shows that indeed, there is nothing to be afraid of when taking coconut oil or adding it to your daily diet.

It Is a Good Source of Saturated Fats

When you hear the word “saturated fat,” the first things that will come into your mind is cholesterol, heart disease or even artery-clogging. But that is the old thinking! Fast forward today where technology is more advanced and experts are smarter than ever, saturated fat is no longer considered an EVIL.

In fact, the whole “artery-clogging” was a myth. And according to new studies, you need enough supply of saturated fat from various animal and plant sources to give you enough energy and provide building blocks for your cell membranes and hormones. At the same time, it carries important fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K which your body needs.

Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat, with almost 90% of the fatty acids being saturated. Yet as evidenced by various studies and those people who consume a lot of coconut, saturated fat is not the primary source of heart diseases. The truth is unsaturated fats, too much sugar and processed foods are the primary sources of having a heart condition.

It Is a Good Alternative to Your Beauty and Skin Care Products

Admit it ladies, if there is a single product that will answer all of your cosmetic problems, you’ve probably lined up by now. The good news is there is actually a product just sitting in your kitchen cupboard that can replace most, if not all of your cosmetics: coconut oil.

One of the benefits of using coconut oil is that it can replace your beauty and skin care products. This is because coconut oil can be an excellent makeup remover, facial cleanser, face and body scrub, moisturizer and even eye and cuticle cream. Why would you rather buy countless products when coconut oil can do everything for you? Plus, you are sure that it is safe, natural and with no harmful ingredients in it.

Talk about hitting (many) birds in one stone, right?

You Can Give Your Hair Its New Best Friend

Ever worry about your hair being too dry or dull? Then maybe you have not yet tried applying coconut oil into it. This is because coconut oil is one of the best nutrients for your hair that can help in its healthy growth and giving your hair a shiny quality. At the same time, it is an excellent conditioner because it gives your hair the essential nutrients to keep it nourished from root to tip.

Just massage the coconut oil into your dry hair and leave it one for an hour. This can then prevent the penetration of water into the hair strands, thereby preventing damage and hair breakage.

Toothpaste, Anyone?

Did you know that coconut oil can help you a lot in your oral health? Surprisingly yes. Coconut oil can be helpful in oil pulling or a process which involves rinsing your mouth with oil like a mouthwash. The oil helps in removing any bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris that are living in your mouth. It can also improve dental health and reduce bad breath. Also, gargling coconut oil can help cleanse, heal and detoxify not just your mouth and sinuses but also the rest of your body.

A piece of advice: mix coconut oil and baking soda. This combination makes an effective yet cheaper and fluoride-free toothpaste.

Got Head Lice? We Can Fix That!

Nobody wants head lice. It’s itchy, it’s yucky and embarrassing, especially for your child. The good news is Permethrin can help you get rid of that. However, new studies show that coconut oil and anise spray are more effective in helping you get rid of head lice. Based on the group trial with 100 participants who has an active head louse in their heads, coconut and anise spray are 82% more effective in removing head lice compared to Permethrin.

While Permethrin is still found to be effective, the coconut oil-anise spray is a better alternative to your child's head lice problems.

It Can Help You Lose Weight – Guaranteed!

how much should i weighC’mon people. If there is a secret formula that can guarantee that you will lose your weight, you will surely be the first one in line. After following tons of diet plans and doing numerous exercise routines, your weight remains the same. Now you start to wonder, “what am I doing wrong?”

The answer is this: you have not yet tried and included coconut oil in your daily routine. Based on a study conducted involving 40 women aged 20 to 40, the group who took coconut oil over the 12-week period saw a higher level of HDL and lower levels of LDL. At the same time, they did not report any weight gain and saw a decrease in waist circumference, also known as the “belly fat,” compared to those who did not take coconut oil.

Further, coconut oil can help you reduce your appetite and make you eat less without trying. But this does not mean coconut oil will starve you compared to diet pills. A lot of studies show that if you add medium chain fatty acid to your diet (which is found in coconut oil, by the way) especially in the morning, it increases your feeling of fullness or satiety, making you start to eat fewer calories at lunch.

At the same time, coconut oil helps your body lose the most dreaded “abdominal fat”. In another study conducted involving obese men from Malaysia, the subjects were advised to take 30 mL (1 ounce) of virgin coconut oil everyday for four weeks. After the said period, men were able to reduce their belly fat by 2.86cm. Therefore, it only shows that consuming 30 mL of coconut oil per day taken in three divided doses can reduce abdominal fat or the flabs in your tummy.

Did you know that coconut oils can also help you to deal with leptin resistance? This troublesome condition is a main reason why so many people can't lose weight.

Tempting right? But keep in mind that it’s not all about coconut oil alone. You still need to do other weight loss strategies such as eating healthy and exercising regularly in order to experience maximum results. Remember, coconut oil cannot do it alone.

It Has Earned Its Place in the Medicine Cabinet

Who says coconut oil is just a staple accessory in the kitchen? Apparently, there are many uses to it too and is a perfect home remedy. When you experience any of these conditions, coconut oil can come into the rescue.

• Skin rashes and irritations

• Bug bites

• Bee stings

• Frequent nosebleeds

• Ear infections

• Cold sores

• Vaginal dryness

Coconut oil provides a chemical layer that can protect any infected areas in your body from getting more dust, bacteria fungi or viruses. Hence, it is very effective on bruises and helps speed up the healing process of the damaged tissues.

Aside from these, coconut oil has been shown and proven to treat Candida or yeast infection. Candida is a type of condition that occurs when there is too much and uncontrolled growth of yeast called Candida Albicans in the stomach. It can include an infection in the genitals, urinary tract and bladder, stomach and even inflammation of the skin and other internal organs.

Because of the antimicrobial and antifungal properties of coconut oil, getting rid of Candida Albicans can be easier. Capric acid in particular, a medium chain fatty acid, is also present in coconut oil. It has antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties that convert the enzymes secreted by bacteria into a powerful microbial agent called monocaprin. Hence, capric acid is very effective in killing the yeast.

That being said, will you still choose over the counter treatments that contain never heard chemicals or stick to coconut oil that is safer and more natural?

It is a Metabolism Booster, Hence Help You Burn Your Fat

Another reason why coconut oil should be part of your weight loss quest is because of its metabolic properties. Although coconut oil is fats (good fats, by the way), it is different from any other fats because it is made of medium chain fatty acids. Because MCFAs go directly to the liver, it can either be converted into energy instantly or turned into ketone bodies.

Coconut oil is “thermogenic.” This means that although coconut oil contains quite a few calories, its fat burning capabilities are increased compared to calories from other types of fats. In fact, a 2003 study shows that 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day can increase energy expenditure (or fat burning) by 5%, totalling to just 120 calories everyday.

Also, coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides or MCTs. This means the body is less inclined to store fat, making you burn more calories, and can be more effective than any low-fat diet plans.

Again, coconut oil is just your wingman. It is not like a wonder pill that can magically burn your fats away. You still need to do your part of exercising and eating healthy in order to achieve the results you want.

It is One of the Best Protections Against Heart Disease

Heart diseases are one of the most common and most dreaded conditions that kill millions of people every year. And over the years, there have been a lot of misconceptions and false claims about coconut oil not being good for the heart.

Apparently, that is not the case. The truth is coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. Again, it contains lauric acid that actively helps in preventing various heart problems such as high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. It can even reduce the risk of injury and damage to the arteries, which in turn prevents atherosclerosis.

Lauric acid is known to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to improve the cholesterol ratio levels in the body. This is because lauric acid helps in the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to various hormones needed by the body.

Any Other Benefits?

And that’s not all. Aside from all those mentioned, coconut oil still has a lot of other health benefits. As a matter of fact, coconut oil:

• Strengthens the immune system, thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

• Improves the digestive system, thus preventing any stomach or digestion-related problems.

• Prevents liver diseases. Again, MCTs and MCFAs that are sent directly to the liver are easily converted into energy. This lessens your liver’s workload and prevents the storage of fat.

• Is the perfect stress reliever. Its soothing and calming effect can remove stress and get rid of any fatigue.

• Enhances the body’s ability to absorb important minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

So what’s my point?

The point is simple – coconut oil has a lot of health benefits. Whether you have simple health issues such as bad breath or bruises or a serious medical condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease, coconut oil can be your best friend.

Therefore, if you really want to enjoy all of these benefits, then choose the UN-refined one such as pure, organic or virgin coconut oil and make it part of your daily diet. Make a switch now before it’s too late.

Barbara Komorek

Barbara is the founder and owner of www.leanhealthyandwise.com. She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.