The health benefits of coconut oil list keep growing as researchers discover new ways that healthy fats improve our body’s function. The old ideas of how fats are bad are changing.
On this article, I will go over the main benefits of coconut oil and then explain why and how this highly saturated fat oil can be so healthy.
Including coconut oil in your diet is an excellent way to help keep our heart and circulatory system healthy. Most people when they think of coconut oil in its hard, white state are reminded of plaque forming as cholesterol on their artery walls!
Well, this is impossible, as coconut oil becomes a liquid at 76°F. Also, more and more research is coming out suggesting that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol do not cause these plaques. In fact, it is pretty well known now that you can eat a few eggs a day and it will have no impact on your blood cholesterol levels. But this is a discussion for another article.
So coconut oil can help prevent heart attacks, and it can also help those trying to lose weight. How is that possible? Coconut oil’s saturated fats increase your metabolism – so you burn more unnecessary fat. The fats in the oil go straight to the liver to be used for energy, not stored as fat as other types of fat are.
The effect on weight loss is largely due to how coconut oil affects the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that control metabolism. Many people who have an underactive thyroid will be overweight because of this. A great coconut oil benefit is its ability to encourage the correct function of the thyroid and help the body burn more fat.
Hair and Skin
Another one of the benefits of coconut oil is its outstanding use as a hair conditioner. There are many videos online that will show you how to do this, but basically, you just rub it in your hair and scalp and let is sit for an hour or so, and then wash it out. The best benefit is that it is a completely natural product and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals like most hair products do.
You can also use it as a skin lotion to help relieve dry skin and also to help prevent future damage. It does this by protecting against the damage from free radicals, which are a major cause of aging.
Remember that whatever you put on your skin, it will most likely end up in your bloodstream and in your body! This is why it’s a good idea to avoid chemicals in the products you use. The Environmental Working Group is a great website that can give you the details of the chemicals in your everyday products.
How is Coconut Oil so Healthy?
It’s true that all the health benefits of coconut oil are amazing, but do you ever wonder what’s so different about this oil?
Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat. Since the 1950’s, we have been told that saturated fat is the cause of heart disease, and we were advised to eat “healthy” unsaturated fats like seed and vegetable oil. Well the research is out and now we know that unsaturated fats like sunflower and canola oil are more easily damaged by oxygen, and very unstable. This means these oils are easily altered and even harmful chemicals can arise from oxidation, and especially when heated.
And if you look at the Polynesian populations (Samoa, Tonga etc.), you will find that they eat large amounts of saturated fat and are not obese and have healthy hearts.
The major benefit of coconut oil is that it’s largely comprised of Lauric Acid, which is also found in human breast milk. This beneficial fat is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA), which is processed differently from long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) that are found in vegetable and seed oils.
- MCFA’s are sent directly to the liver to be processed as energy.
- LCFA’s are mostly stored as fat and are more difficult for you body to break down. They are the cause of the plaque deposits in your arteries!
So coconut oil digests easily, provides lots of energy, decreases cholesterol and helps you lose weight!
How to Use
The easiest way to obtain the health benefits of coconut oil is to start by replacing the other oils in your kitchen with it. Some people use it as a spread or will even eat it plain.
You can start with just a teaspoon per day if you wish, and work up to a few tablespoons per day. In baking, you can use it to replace butter or shortening or any other oil the recipe calls for.
A great benefit of coconut oil is that it is very stable, and will not produce trans fatty acids when cooking with it. Trans fatty acids are caused by hydrogenating fats and are horrible for your health. Coconut oil is the safest oil to fry with, although you will do best avoiding high-temperature cooking of anything.
Cooking with coconut oil is easy and typically you won’t even taste in your food. Make sure to get an organic, unrefined, virgin oil to ensure you receive all the best benefits of coconut oil.