Last Updated: 30th September 2016
Coconut oil is used for a variety of needs. Many people choose it as a healthier option to cook in while some use it for oil pulling because of the nicer taste. Why has it become a preferred choice over likes olive, sesame and vegetable oil?
The truth is that coconut oil offers people numerous benefits. It is full of extra nutrients compared to many other oils, and in larger amounts than others. This will help people in many ways, including aiding with weight loss and offering a reduced risk of ailments.
Welcome to your ultimate guide on the health benefits of coconut oil. Just why should you make the switch to it today?
Coconut Oil As A Superfood?
One thing you may not be aware of is that coconut oil is considered a superfood. What does this mean? It is one of those foods that offers various nutrients that are good for the whole body. It can fight against cancer, aid your skin health, and help improve your sleep all at the same time. It is one of the superheroes of food.
Many of the health benefits come from the fatty acids. While people will say that fat is bad for your health, that is not necessarily the case. It depends on the type of fat, and also depends on the amount you have. Using coconut oil in your cooking means that you use a recommended amount of healthy fats. These help to boost brain function, aiding with many other areas of your health.
Extra virgin coconut oil is your best option, but not the only type out there. Most of them will be better than your standard vegetable oil.
Therapeutic Benefits For The Brain
Coconut oil has been known to help fight off Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and other brain disorders and ailments. This is due to the fatty acids, which are turned into ketones. For years, saturated fats were demonized, but now it is known that they are not as bad as many originally believed. In recommended amounts, saturated fats can be good for you.
This is especially the case when it comes to coconut oil. The type of fatty acids it contains are known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These are medium length fatty acids, which are much better than the long-chain ones that you will mostly get in your diet, from the likes of steak and cheese. The medium chain fatty acids metabolise in a completely different way to others. They travel from the digestive tract, straight into the liver.
What benefit could this give you that affects the brain? They are quickly used up as a source of energy or turned into the ketones. It is the ketone bodies that aid brain disorders, and can even help to prevent or halt some disorders.
Burn More Fat Throughout the Day
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While you are consuming fat, you will still find that you burn more throughout the day by using coconut oil. It sounds strange, but you do need fat to lose weight! And with obesity currently one of the biggest problems in the world, it makes sense to find a way to curb it in your life.
There are many people who calorie count. After all, the health professionals recommend that people stick to a certain amount on a daily basis. The problem is that one calorie is not the same as another. It all depends on where those calories come from; as in, what all the other nutrients are like.
This all goes back to those MCTs. Remember that they can increase your energy expenditure? That means you burn more calories from coconut oil than you would from foods that have the long-chain fats. This was proven in studies, with one showing that the energy expenditure in 24 hours increases by 5 percent by opting for 15-30g of MCTs. That’s an extra 120 calories burned in a day more just by switching to coconut oil!
What does that mean for your weight loss? As long as you stick to a healthy and balanced diet (and that is the important part), you will find that you lose more weight on a daily basis. While you increase this, you help your health in so many other ways. Obesity is linked to so many other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, strokes and insomnia.
Decrease Your Appetite
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Burning more fat isn’t the only way coconut oil can help you lose weight. Another benefit is that it reduces the hunger you feel throughout a day, meaning you eat less on a daily basis. By consuming fewer calories than your body burns, you will lose more weight. Again, this does rely on you following a healthy and balanced diet. Remember, a calorie is not the same in every little thing you eat, so you need to follow a recommended diet.
How can coconut oil help to suppress your appetite and is that healthy for you? The good news is, unlike those hunger suppressant tablets, this is a healthy option. It all works due to those fatty acids turning into the ketone bodies. When compared to long-chain triglycerides, the MCTs led to men eating 256 fewer calories in a day, according to the results of one study involving six men.
It is currently unknown what this would do over the long term. The studies that have been conducted have been for short term weight loss efforts. Could there be a danger of using coconut oil all the time? Most scientists do not believe so, because of all the other health benefits found in the oil. It is also likely that the body will manifest even itself out over time once within a healthy weight range.
Weightloss From the Belly
Sticking with fat and weight loss right now, coconut oil helps to encourage fat loss from the belly. This is one of the most dangerous places for fat to build up, and is very common in men. Women will an apple shape will also find that they have a lot of extra belly fat.
Like calories are not equal, neither is fat in the body. It all depends on the location, and belly fat leads to many other health problems. Most of the fat is within layers of the skin (you’ll know because you can grab it), but fat in the belly is known as visceral fat. It builds within the spaces between your organs, putting strain on the organs and causing them to not work efficiently. It can lead to issues like cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal problems. It is also linked to inflammation that can cause cancer.
By promoting fat loss around the stomach, you instantly reduce the risk of numerous health problems that could shorten your life span. The coconut oil helps due to the type of saturated fat and all the benefits already mentioned.
Studies have shown that men can lose 2.86cm within four weeks. While this will not sound like a lot, it is better than nothing at all and moving the fat loss in the right direction. The studies were also undertaken without any other dietary or exercise changes, so it is possible for people to drop waist sizes much quicker.
Improve Skin Conditions and Fight Against Hair Damage
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The skin and hair are two parts of the body that noticeably get damaged. It could be due to sun damage or just dry out from the amount of heat and products applied. Either way, other people start to notice, as well as you. Coconut oil can help to counter both of these problems.
Many oils help to reverse skin damage or heal various skin ailments, and can help to boost natural oils in the head to help the hair. Coconut oil is no different, and there is no need to eat it daily to see the benefit. You can apply the oil directly to the skin or hair, or you can opt to pull it to see this benefit.
Coconut oil acts as a natural moisturising cream. When applied directly to the skin, it helps to soothe ailments like eczema and psoriasis. While using it, it also improves the lipid content of the skin, so your skin starts to produce naturally the extra oils that you need. This is something other moisturising creams fail to provide, making you need more.
It also works on the hair in a similar way. The head can stop providing the natural oils due to chemical use or old age, and the hair dries out and becomes damaged. Just by applying coconut oil overnight and wrapping it in a shower cap, you improve the look of your hair and encourage natural oil production, so you don’t have to do this all the time.
Another way it protects the sun and hair is by working as a sunscreen. Studies have shown it can block about 20 percent of the ultraviolet rays, helping to reduce the risk of skin cancer. However, it may not be something to replace your own sunscreen on a regular basis. This will likely depend on your location and the amount of time you spend in the sun.
Fight Against Bacteria Build Up`
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Oil pulling has already been mentioned, and this is one of the ways to use coconut oil to maximise all the benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that the oil attracts bacteria to it. When you’re oil pulling, you get all the bacteria in your mouth to cling to the ingredient, and when you spit it out, they’re all gone from your mouth.
Any oil can be used for this, but coconut oil is believed to be the best of all. It tastes nicer, too, which is important when you need to pull the oil for 15-20 minutes!
While removing the bacteria from your mouth, you’re benefitting your health in numerous ways. The first is that you give yourself better breath. Bacteria build up at the back of the mouth is one of the most common reasons for bad breath, and usually happens during the night. By oil pulling on a morning, you get rid of the bacteria and give yourself a fresh start to the day, without using chemical-laden mouthwash.
There are also some speculations that oil pulling improves oral health. Not only do you get rid of the bacteria causing bad breath, but also the plaque builds up between and on the teeth. Your risk of cavities is reduced considerably, and your teeth can become whiter. It makes take time, but it could be worth it for the amount of money you would otherwise spend on dental bills, teeth whitening products and mouthwash.
Improve Immunity Against Diseases
Coconut oil is also full of lauric acid, which is something breastmilk is in the abundance of. The lauric acid turns into monolaurin when it is digested and absorbed by the body, and that has its own health benefits; one of those being the ability to improve the immune system.
Too many people find they have a poor immune system, and they pick up general colds on a monthly basis. They can end up with other viruses, diseases and infections because their bodies are failing to fight off everything.
Coconut oil can help to boost the body’s immune system through the monolaurin. This leads to fighting viruses and diseases a lot easier, including staph infections. The staph infection reduction has been proven through, and scientists have found that this is because the oil is 40 percent or more lauric acid. It is the richest natural source in the world, except for breast milk, which shows why breast really is best for babies.
The lauric acid can also be effective in the fight against cancer. It protects against some of the cell changes, ensuring that they repair healthily rather than cancerous. This is especially beneficial when more antioxidants are included in the diet.
Fighting against infections and diseases is not just beneficial for the health. There are financial benefits, as it will mean fewer trips to the doctors and less money spent on over the counter or prescription medication.
It’s not just your immune system that is helped to work more effectively. Coconut oil is full of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Not only will your immune system be helped, but the coconut oil will help to prevent the diseases from becoming a problem before your immune system has to do too much work.
Fight Yeast Infections
Just sticking with the infections part for the time being, you may have noticed the fact that coconut oil is full of antifungal properties. This means that this one oil helps to fight and protect against yeast infections. This is especially the case for the levels of Candida in the body, which is known to cause thrush and other yeast infections around the private area or in the mouth.
By oil pulling, you can help to eliminate thrush quickly, improving sore throats and mouth sores. This is something many individuals have found, even if they are not too sure about the taste of the oil. They believe the oily taste and the time spent pulling are worth it when they can physically feel and see the benefits.
The antifungal properties come from the levels of lauric acid and caprylic acid in the coconut oil. Lauric acid has already been mentioned, but the caprylic acid offers the antimicrobial and antifungal properties. They actively fight against the bad bacteria building up in the body, while promoting the good bacteria (again, yes, your body needs some bacteria for a healthy digestive system).
One of the main reasons people have Candida in the body and suffer from regular yeast infections is due to sugar intake. While it’s worth not demonizing sugar, there are healthy alternatives and coconut oil is one of them. Coconut is naturally sweet and works as an excellent substitute. It’s worth baking with this oil rather than olive or sunflower because you can reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener you use.
This isn’t just about yeast that causes problems like thrush. Bad bacteria in the gut cause digestive problems, including constipation and stomach upsets. By getting the bad out and promoting the good, you give your gastrointestinal system a protective layer and make sure it works to its optimum level.
Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels
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High levels of cholesterol are problematic for the health. This leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. So, it’s normal to want to lower it and focus on a healthier lifestyle.
There are many worries that saturated fats cause high levels of cholesterol. In some instances, this is true, but as mentioned above, it is not the case when coconut oil is in play. The saturated fats in coconut oil are of the medium-chain length, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels. Many professionals agree that it helps to lower the LDL cholesterol (the bad one), which many animal fats and other saturated fats increase.
At the same time, it can improve the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good one) in your body. This really is a positive thing, and like saturated fats and carbohydrates, your body needs some cholesterol to work at an optimum level. The important part is getting the right type of cholesterol in the body. While the level of HDL cholesterol may be high, keeping the LDL cholesterol low helps to protect your heart from disease.
Another benefit linked to cholesterol is your blood pressure, and coconut oil helps to reduce that too. High blood pressure leads to stroke and possible death, and can mean people are on medication to help keep it lower.
With the help of coconut oil, your arteries will remain more flexible, and you will prevent numerous health complications. You could even see your medication be reduced or eliminated completed just by making this one change.
Better Absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D
In fact, it is not just calcium and vitamin D absorption that benefit from using coconut oil. This ingredient helps to improve the absorption of all vitamins and minerals. It’s worth focusing on calcium and vitamin D because it can be difficult to get these in various parts of the world.
Vitamin D mainly comes from the sun but is a requirement to help with the absorption of calcium. Calcium comes from dairy and green leafyvegetables and helps to improve bone health. It makes sense to make sure you get both of them in recommended amounts on a daily basis.
Osteoporosis is a growing concern around the world, especially in older people. It causes weak bones, and can lead to brittle or broken bones very easily. Calcium helps to bulk the bones out with healthy components, improving the strength and reducing pain felt on a daily basis. And if you can get that from coconut oil (along with all these other health benefits), then why not add it to your daily diet?
It’s not just through helping the absorption of calcium that osteoporosis becomes a thing of the past. The coconut oil also has a lot of antioxidants. These help to fight and prevent cancer, but also help to right against the free radicals that also cause osteoporosis. So, you’re helping your bone health through vitamin D and calcium absorption, while fighting against the reason for osteoporosis occurring in the first place! It really is a win-win situation.
Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Do you remember that bit about being naturally sweet? Sugar doesn’t just cause more Candida in the body; it also causes insulin resistance. Artificial sugars are the most to be concerned about, as natural sugars do not often have the same insulin response. These artificial sugars are found in cakes, biscuits and refined products. Coconut oil is a natural form.
When sugar goes into the body, it is released as glucose for energy. The pancreas has to release then insulin to help counter the sugar levels, and it can lead to an overproduction of the insulin, and the body starts to become resistant. When you then have more sugar, the body produces more insulin to combat the glucose, and you become a risk for Type 2 diabetes.
It’s so important to reduce this. Diabetes causes so many other health problems, and can even lead to amputations.
Coconut oil isn’t just naturally sweet meaning you have fewer refined sugars on a daily basis. It also helps to balance the amount of insulin released, so your digestive system becomes a healthier place. Your pancreas doesn’t have to do as much work, but you still get the energy levels that you need.
You will also feel more awake. Sugar does leave to a sudden burst of energy because of the glucose, but it also leads to a sudden crash. With coconut oil, you won’t get that problem.
How would it feel to know that you have not caused your body to become resistance to insulin? The good news is you can even repair some of the damage you have already done. If your doctor has said you are a risk for Type 2 diabetes, now is the time to make the switch to coconut oil and reverse some of the damage. If you’re already on medication, you could find that your levels drop with the use of coconut oil, and your medication can be lowered. Some people have found they can completely cut out their diabetes medication.
How Can You Use Coconut Oil to Get All the Health Benefits?
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With so many health benefits, it is time to look at how you can use it to really take them all in. There are just so many options, and you won’t even need to taste it if that’s something you’re not looking forward to! It depends on how important all the health benefits are to you, and whether you’re willing to get used to the taste—and you really will get used to it.
The quickest and most effective way to use coconut oil is through your cooking. It can completely replace any other oil you currently use, and it is an excellent option since it doesn’t go rancid. The oil doesn’t break down at the higher temperatures like some other options do. Whether you want to cook eggs, bake cakes or make roast potatoes, this is certainly something to start using instead.
Most supermarkets now sell the oil on the same shelves as olive and sunflower oil. Because it is becoming so popular, it is also cost-friendly. It may be worth investing in an oil sprayer to transfer your oil into, so you can limit the amount you use on a daily basis and make sure it is cost effective for you.
Another option is to add it to your smoothies. This can seem questionable at first; oil in smoothies? The benefit is that your smoothies will become creamy, without all the extra calories. You really don’t need that much to get all the health benefits; just a tablespoon or two will be more than enough.
When you’re making a smoothie next time, consider switching your water or milk for the oil. It’s especially great for those leafy green smoothies, such as kale and spinach. All these natural ingredients work together extremely well.
If you make homemade mayonnaise, you will also benefit from coconut oil. Homemade mayonnaise is much better for you than the shop-bought varieties. There are fewer calories, and you know exactly which ingredients have been added. When you add in the coconut oil, you’re giving yourself a lot of good saturated fats and gaining all the health benefits mentioned above.
Moving on from cooking and food, another option is to let your skin absorb all the health benefits. Coconut oil is a favorite body lotion for many because the skin absorbs it all quickly. Unlike other oils, specially manufactured oils and moisturising creams, the coconut oil doesn’t leave that damp, oily and slippery feeling. Instead, your skin is left feeling soft and gentle.
Using it in a topical way will also help you apply it directly to some of your health problems. If you have psoriasis or eczema, you can apply it directly to help counter the irritation and soothe the skin. If you have a baby with bad diaper rash, the antibacterial properties can help to heal that naturally and quickly.
Coconut oil can also be mixed with other essential oils. This can lead to many more health benefits while creating a hand cream or moisturiser that you’re proud of having. It becomes a great massage oil if you could only convince your other half to pamper you in this way! And if you shave regularly, you can use coconut oil instead of the expensive aftershave creams. The oil will also help to promote healing if you’ve cut yourself accidentally.
Coconut oil has also become an excellent makeup remover. There are some anti-aging properties from all the other health benefits, and applying directly to the face (where you are more likely to see signs of aging) will help to remove wrinkles and improve the elasticity within your skin. Stretch marks become a thing of the past, and you could even help to reduce the appearance of your acne scars.
It’s much cheaper to use coconut oil than the makeup removers in stores. There is no bad oily smell, and you can always add an essential oil if you want something specific. One thing that manufactured removers have is that clinical smell, which you get rid of with coconut oil.
Finally, you can apply it directly to your hair. It works to remove dandruff (by acting as a moisturiser) and will help to improve your dry hair effectively. If you have oily hair, you may not want to opt for this method of use too often, but once a week can be a major benefit. Apply it overnight and wrap your hair in a shower cap. Let it do the work naturally and then just wash it out the next morning.
There are just so many health benefits to coconut oil. It’s a wonder why more people don’t take advantage of it. You don’t need to use it in your cooking if you don’t want. Using it topically will help to get direct benefits to areas of the body that really need it. Make a switch to coconut oil today and improve your health right away.
Coconut is one of the healthiest fruits there is. Coconut oil is packed with nutrients that helps prevent and cure even the most serious diseases. Often underappreciated, it is one of those things we take for granted for its thousands of benefits.
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