As you all have probably noticed, coconut oil popularity has sky-rocked over the past decade. It is now hailed as an extremely healthy substance, either through ingestion or in skin and hair care products.
What most people don’t know is that coconut oil has been consumed in the Pacific Islands and some Asian countries for thousands of years, and it is seen as one of the reasons why they are such healthy people.
So let’s find out why coconut oil is so healthy!
One of the main reasons is that coconut oil is one of the greatest sources of lauric acid found in nature.
Lauric acid is considered a healthy fat because it is a saturated medium-chain triglyceride, meaning that it is easily absorbed and metabolized by the body, while providing a number of health benefits.
Here are 10 scientifically proven benefits of pure coconut oil, which is the unrefined oil extracted from the endosperm of the coconut fruit:
1. Helps improve cholesterol levels
Coconut oil is full of saturated fats which increase good cholesterol (HDL) and turn the bad cholesterol (LDL) into a benign subtype. (1)
Other studies indicate that in addition to lowering LDL, coconut oil also plays an important antioxidant role and improves blood clotting. (2; 3)
2- Helps burning fat
Obesity is not only a matter of the quantity of calories, but also of their quality. Coconut oil does not contain the long chain saturated fats found in most fat rich foods.
The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) present in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure when compared to the same amount of calories from long chain fats (LCT). (4; 5)
Researchers at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) found that a daily intake of 15 to 30 grams of MCT produces a 5% increase in energy expenditure. (6)
3- It is good for the skin
Unlike mineral oil, coconut oil has no adverse side effects on any skin type. It is therefore a safe solution to prevent skin dryness and scaling. A study on people with dry skin has shown that extra virgin coconut oil improves the hydration and lipid content, which translates into skin softness. (7)
Due to its antioxidant properties, coconut oil also delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging and helps prevent premature aging.
In addition, it helps in the treatment of various skin diseases, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and even phimosis.
And its effectiveness as a sunscreen has also been proven, blocking approximately 20% of ultraviolet rays. (8)
4- It protects the organism against harmful microorganisms
Almost half of the fatty acids in coconut oil correspond to lauric acid. When lauric acid is digested by stomach enzymes, a monoglyceride called monolaurin is produced. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. (9; 10; 11)
Several studies have shown for instance the prophylactic role of coconut oil to improve dental health, fight plaque, and combat bad breath. (12; 13; 14; 15)
5- Helps reduce appetite
As a by-product of the fatty acid metabolism process in the liver, solvents are formed (called ketone bodies) with a potential appetite-suppressing effect.
In a study, it was found that individuals fed with higher amounts of MCT had a significant reduction in the daily amount of calories required compared to those fed with LCT. (16)
Another study found that people who ate more MCT for breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch. (17)
6- It is good for your hair
Topic use of coconut oil plays an important role in preventing and regenerating damaged hair and is an excellent natural conditioner.
This is due to its hydrophobic characteristics, which prevent the penetration of water and air particles in the hair, which would weaken and damage the hair fibers. (18)
A study has also proven its effectiveness in reducing protein loss as it binds to the protein molecules in the hair fibers, sustaining them. This translates into healthier hair. (19)
7- Minimizes the effects of osteoporosis
A study suggests that supplementing the diet with coconut oil may reverse the effects of estrogen deficiency – so common in women during menopause – including loss of bone density. Antioxidant compounds (the polyphenols) in coconut oil have the potential to maintain bone structure and prevent bone loss due to hormonal changes. (20)
8- Effective in reducing abdominal fat
Considering that coconut oil helps burn fat and reduce hunger, you would expect that its consumption could considerably impact body measurements.
What studies reveal is that it is particularly effective in reducing fat that accumulates in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs. This type of fat is the most dangerous of all and is associated with a number of diseases linked to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. (21; 22)
9- Fights against diabetes
Diabetes is the imbalance of glucose levels in the blood. It occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin (diabetes type 1) or when the insulin produced does not act adequately in the cells due to a resistance of the body to its action (diabetes type 2).
When either of these insulin problems occurs, glucose can no longer be absorbed by the cells, which causes the blood sugar levels to rise.
One study found that diets rich in MCTs, such as those in coconut oil, protect against insulin resistance. (23)
Furthermore, unlike the LCT contained in animal fats, MCT are small enough to enter directly into the energy turbines of the cells (the mitochondria), where they can be converted into energy. This reduces stress on the pancreas during mealtimes, since it requires less enzyme production and thus produces insulin more efficiently.
Simply ingesting half to one tablespoon of coconut oil before meals can cause many diabetics to have their blood sugar fluctuations and symptoms significantly decreased.
10- Improves brain function in Alzheimer’s patients
Alzheimer’s is related to the loss of cognitive functions (memory, orientation, attention, and language) caused by the death or malfunction of brain cells.
It is now known that the ketone bodies produced during the metabolism of coconut oil in the human organism supply energy to the brain. Researchers have suggested that they may represent an additional energy source for defective cells and reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms. (24)
In several studies, MCT consumption has been confirmed to lead to an immediate improvement in brain function in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients. And also that patients supplemented with coconut oil showed improvement in cognitive functions, especially spatial orientation and language construction. (25; 26; 27)
I hope you found this article as interesting as I have!
Thanks for coming by and have a sweet week,