Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a superfood, and its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on your overall health. Some of the benefits include things like fat loss and improved brain function. Kathleen M. Zelman at WebMD tells us,
Coconut oil, according to recent reports, is the latest food cure-all. Claims abound that coconut oil is a health food that can cure everything from poor immune function, thyroid disease, and heart disease, to obesity, cancer, and HIV.
Below we list some of the amazing benefits of coconut oil that have been experimentally confirmed in recent human studies.
Coconut Oil Contains a Unique Combination of Fatty Acids
In the past, we were told that coconut oil was terrible for you because of the saturated fat it contains, and it is true that nearly 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated. Coconut oil is actually one of the richest sources of saturated fats known to man. But new data is showing us that saturated fats are quite harmless and huge studies are proving that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a total myth.
Coconut oil doesn’t contain the same type of saturated fats that you would find in things like cheese or fried foods. Rather, it contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length. The majority of fatty acids in a person’s diet are long-chain fatty acids, but the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently. These go from the digestive tract straight to the liver, where they are then used as a source of quick energy or turned into ketone bodies. The effect can be therapeutic for those with brain disorders, like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
Healthy People Eat Coconut Oil
If you ask the average person if they consume coconut oil, you will probably find that they do not. In the Western World, coconut is considered to be an exotic food and is primarily consumed by people that are overly health conscious. But in many parts of the world, coconut is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for generation after generation. One example of this are the Tokelauans from the South Pacific. Over 60% of their caloric intake comes from coconuts, and that makes them the biggest consumers of saturated fats in the entire world. But even so, they are surprisingly in good health and have no evidence of heart disease. One other population that remains in great overall health despite eating loads of coconuts are the Kitavans.
Coconut Oil Can Help You Burn More Fat
One of the biggest problems facing the American population today is rising obesity. And while obesity may be an issue of ingesting too many calories, you also have to take into consideration what kind of sources those calories are derived from. Different kinds of foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways, so the kinds of foods you eat is more important than just how much you eat. In essence, all calories are not created equal.
One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased the amount of energy expended during 24 hours by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day. Meredith Melnick at The Huffington Post says,
Coconut oil may also help encourage weight loss, as in a 2009 study during which women with abdominal obesity who supplemented their diet with coconut oil were able to lose more weight than those who were given a soy bean oil supplement.
The Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil Can Help Stave Off Infections
Nearly half of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are 12-carbon lauric acids. These acids can help fight off infections and can kill harmful pathogens, thereby reducing the risk of infections. When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin, and both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. One thing that research has shown is that using coconut oil can help to kill the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and the yeast Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans. Many mothers find it beneficial to use coconut oil in place of any kind of diaper cream because if its healing properties. Another added bonus is that if you are using cloth diapers, it will not ruin them like many other types of diaper cream or paste. We learn from Pina LoGiudice et al. that,
The oils found in the coconut have a positive antioxidant action in the body. This means they help our body stop the damage to other healthy fats and tissues in our body. Oxidation is considered a major contributor to cardiovascular problems and skin aging.
Coconut Oil Can Kill Your Hunger
I have been using coconut oil a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it has the interesting ability to help curb your appetite. It can reduce hunger cravings, leading you to eating a much more healthy diet. This may be due to the way these fatty acids are metabolized, since ketone bodies are known to have an appetite-reducing effect.
There was one study in which varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The results showed that those men who ingested the largest amount of MCTs ate on average 256 less calories than the ones who kept their MCT intake low. Another study was done where 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch.
Both of these studies were relatively small and completed over a short period of time. You can imagine how the studies would change if these kinds of things were to persist in the long term. If more people starting using coconut oil on a regular basis, it could have a dramatic influence on body weight over a period of several years. Our country does not have to continue to suffer from obesity if people will just learn to make better choices.