Coconut oil was previously shunned by the health community because of its high saturated fat content. However, with the recent findings on research concerning the benefits of coconut oil, it has experienced a significant increase in sales and can be found in many local stores.
Coconut oil is considered as one of the few foods which can be classified as a super food. In fact, its unique combination of fatty acids has profound positive effects on one’s health. Such effects include fat loss and improved brain function. However, coconut oil has a lot of other benefits that are currently being studied and researched. These are some of them.
Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease with Coconut Oil
According to a research about coconut oil and its relation to cardiovascular disease, it has been established that a group of subjects taking coconut oil did not experience any significant change in their cholesterol levels, but are more likely to have higher levels of HDL or good cholesterol. The other group of subjects was taking soybean oil. It has been revealed that this group’s LDL or bad cholesterol levels have increased while their HDL levels decreased. Both LDL and HDL are markers of an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Based on the said study, it can be concluded that coconut oil is more beneficial, especially in terms of reducing the risk to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Glucose Tolerance, Fat Accumulation and Coconut Oil
Diets that is high in MCTs or medium chain triglycerides, which is about 65 percent of coconut oil’s makeup, has shown to improve glucose tolerance as well as reduction of body fat accumulation compared to diets that is high in LCTs or long chain triglycerides. Moreover, studies also revealed that coconut oil can improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.
Coconut Oil and Its Positive Effects on Weight Loss
In the same study on soybean and coconut oil, both groups lost weight. However, it was established that only the group taking coconut oil saw a decrease in the size of the waist. In a separate study, it has been established that coconut oil can induce more weight and fat loss compared to olive oil. This study reveals that substituting oils that are high in medium chain triglycerides with oils containing long chain triglycerides is beneficial for weight loss among healthy individuals.
Coconut Oil and Calories
Based on the National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 117 calories and 13.6 grams of fat. It does not contain protein and carbohydrates. Moreover, it provides no vitamins and minerals. It is made up of 100% fat. Despite this, the structure of the fat contained in coconut oil is different from the regular saturated fat that is found in animal products. The fat contained in coconut oil comes with unusually high amounts of medium chain triglycerides or MCTs. The human body has a difficulty converting MCTs into stored fat. Instead, it is easier for the body to burn MCTs compared to LCTs or long chain fatty acids.
Coconut Oil and the Eradication of Harmful Microorganisms
Coconut oil also helps in eradicating harmful microorganisms. Almost 50 percent of the fatty acid found in coconut oil is 12-carbon Lauric Acid. When coconut oil is digested, it forms monolaurin, which is a monoglyceride. Both lauric acid and monolaurin kill harmful pathogens in the body like viruses, bacteria and fungi like Staphylococcus Aureus and Candida Albicans. With such ability, coconut oil intake can help prevent infections.
Appetite Suppression and Coconut Oil
One of the most interesting benefits of coconut oil is that it can actually reduce hunger pangs and is believed to have a significant effect over a person’s weight over time. This effect is related to the way the fatty acids are metabolized. The ketone bodies resulting from the metabolism of fatty acids have an appetite reducing effect.
A study revealed that individuals eating mostly medium chain triglycerides ate fewer calories per day compared to those who eat mostly long chain triglycerides. In a separate study, individuals who have taken breakfast with medium chain triglycerides ate fewer calories at lunch. Both studies were conducted for a short period of time. If the effects will persist over a long period of time, this can have a significant influence on a person’s weight.
Coconut Oil, Ketones, and the Reduction of Seizures
The fatty acids found in coconut oil are turned into ketone bodies when metabolized. Ketogenic diet has recently been studies for the treatment of various disorders. This type of diet has been used in treating children suffering from drug resistant epilepsy.
The ketogenic is a high fat, low carbohydrate and adequate protein diet. This means that a person who is into this type of diet eats large amounts of fat and very little carbohydrates, resulting to an increased concentration of ketone bodies in the blood. This type of diet forces the body to burn body fats instead of the carbohydrates. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil will be processed and turned into ketone bodies by the liver. For some reason, this type of diet can dramatically reduce the frequency of seizures among epileptic children.
Coconut Oil and Its Benefits in Beauty
Coconut oil can actually protect the hair against damage. Moreover, this oil can also moisturize the skin and function as a sunscreen. For this reason, a lot of people are using this oil for cosmetic purposes. In fact, coconut oil has been used in improving the health and the appearance of the skin and the hair.
Studies show that individuals with dry skin who have used coconut oil have shown great improvement in terms of skin moisture as well as the improvement of lipid content of their skin. In addition, coconut oil can protect the hair against damage. This can keep the hair shiny and healthy. In one study, it was also established that coconut can block about 20 percent of ultraviolet rays of the sun, which makes it an effective sunscreen.
Coconut Oil and Your Brain Function
The fatty acids contained in coconut oil can boost the brain function in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is considered as the most common cause of dementia and affects elderly individuals primarily.
Patients suffering from this condition appear to have the reduced ability to utilize glucose for energy in several parts of the brain. Ketone bodies derived from the fatty acid metabolism can supply the much needed energy for the brain. Experts claim that ketone bodies can supply the energy source for the malfunctioning brain cells, resulting to a reduction of the symptoms of the condition.
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