What is coconut oil?
It is a tropical oilCoconut oil is extracted from the coconut pulp, leaving behind the fiber, carbohydrates and protein.
The two main types are:
1_ Saturated fats (the unhealthy fats linked to high cholesterol)
2_unsaturated fats (healthy fats that can reduce the risk of heart disease).
Saturated fats make up 92% of coconut oil – a higher percentage than butter.Saturated fats tend to increase harmful (unhealthy) cholesterol in the blood and should be consumed in moderation to reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you buy coconut oil, the first thing you may notice is that it changes shape depending on the room temperature. When stored in a cool room, coconut oil is just as stable as ghee.If the room temperature rises, the coconut oil will turn into a liquid.Whenever possible buy extra virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is widely marketed as a superfood.
The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil may have positive effects on your health, such as increasing fat loss, heart health and brain function.
Here are 10 health benefits of coconut oil.
1. Contains healthy fatty acidsCoconut oil is high in saturated fats. These fats have different effects on the body compared to most other dietary fats.
The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage your body to burn fats, and they also provide quick energy for your body and brain. They also raise the level of good (good) cholesterol in the blood, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
2. May boost heart healthCoconut is an uncommon food in the Western world, where health-conscious people are the primary consumers.
However, in some parts of the world, coconut – infused with coconut oil – is a staple nutrient that people have thrived on for generations.
3. May encourage fat burningObesity is one of the biggest health conditions affecting the Western world today.
While some people think obesity is just a matter of how many calories a person consumes, the source of those calories matters as well. Different foods affect your body and hormones in different ways.
MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories your body burns compared to long-chain fatty acids.
Keep in mind that coconut oil is very high in calories and can easily lead to weight gain if consumed in large quantities.
4. It may have antimicrobial effectsLauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
When your body digests lauric acid, it forms a substance called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
There is no evidence that coconut oil reduces the risk of developing the common cold or other internal infections.
5. It may reduce hungerOne of the interesting features of MCTs is that they may reduce hunger.
This may be related to the way the body metabolizes fats, as ketones can reduce a person’s appetite.
6. It may reduce seizuresResearchers are currently studying the ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbs and high in fat, to treat various disorders.
The most common therapeutic use of this diet is drug-resistant epilepsy in children.
The diet greatly reduces the rate of seizures in children with epilepsy, even those who have not been successful with multiple types of medication. Researchers are not sure why.
7. May raise HDL (good) cholesterolCoconut oil contains natural saturated fats that increase the levels of good (good) cholesterol in the body. It may also help convert bad (bad) cholesterol into a less harmful form.
By increasing HDL, many experts believe that coconut oil may boost heart health compared to many other fats.
8. May protect your skin, hair and teethCoconut oil has many uses that have nothing to do with eating it.
Many people use it for cosmetic purposes to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Oil pulling, which includes washing coconut oil in your mouth like mouthwash, may kill some harmful bacteria in the mouth. This may improve dental health and reduce bad breath
9. May enhance brain function in Alzheimer’s diseaseAlzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It usually affects the elderly.
This condition reduces your brain’s ability to use glucose for energy
10. It may help reduce harmful belly fatSince some of the fatty acids in coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, they may also help you lose weight.
Belly fat, or visceral fat, resides in your abdominal cavity and around your organs. MCTs appear to be particularly effective at reducing belly fat compared to LCTs.
Belly fat, which is the most harmful type, is linked to many chronic diseases.
The effect on irritable bowel syndromeAccording to Monash University researchers, consuming one tablespoon of coconut oil is low in FODMAPs. Since coconut oil is a fat, not a carbohydrate, you don’t need to worry about FODMAPs of any size.
However, too much fat can strengthen intestinal contractions, which is something you don’t want when you have IBS.
Some people say they relieve constipation by consuming coconut oil daily. However, no research supports or contradicts this.
Coconut oil appears to be a good source of healthy fats that should not make IBS worse.
Coconut oil is still high in calories, so you should use it in moderation. Replacing some other cooking fats with coconut oil may have a small benefit in weight loss, but the evidence is generally inconsistent.
Nutritional facts about coconut oil, including how many calories it containsAccording to the USDA, these are the nutritional facts for a 1 tablespoon serving of coconut oil.
Protein 0 grams (g).
Fat 13.5 g.
Saturated fat 11.2 g.
Carbohydrates 0 g.
Fibers 0 g.
Sugar 0 g.
This is very similar to other oils. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat.
In addition to cooking, coconut oil really shines as a beauty product.You can use it on your hair as a mask while in the shower to add extra moisture, or smooth it slightly on dry hair to calm frizz. On the skin, coconut oil can be used as a lip balm or as a body moisturizer. Extra virgin coconut oil is your best bet when using it on your body or hair.
Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut OilWritten by Kris Gunnars, BSc on February 12, 2020 — Medically reviewed by Atli Arnarson BSc, PhD
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