Coconut oil has been a dietary and beauty staple for ages in tropical regions, especially in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Its use and popularity is growing across the globe, and for a good reason. Coconut oil is an excellent source of nutrition and has many health benefits.
Because the oil contains more than 90% saturated fat, it was long believed to be unhealthy. However, opinions are shifting as a growing body of research unveils the profoundly positive effects that coconut oil can have on health. Be it antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties; this powerhouse ingredient has them all. It also helps in the absorption of other minerals.
In fact, coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood” that fosters health and beauty from the inside out.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of coconut oil.
1. Boosts Immune System
Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats–lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid–that contain antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, all of which help strengthen the body’s immune system.
A strong immune system means the body is more capable of fighting a variety of viruses and bacteria that cause diseases like herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, candida, and even HIV.
Thus, you can capitalize on this disease-fighting attribute of coconut oil by adding it to your diet plan to keep your immune system fighting fit all year round, especially during the winter months.
2. Lowers Cholesterol
Several studies suggest that dietary use of coconut oil can increase the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) and reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) in your blood or diminish their damaging effects.
Owing to this particular property, coconut oil can help reduce the risk of injury and damage to arteries and help prevent atherosclerosis. This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors helps lower your blood pressure level and reduce your risk of heart diseases over the long term.
It is, therefore, well advised for people with a family history of heart disease to seriously consider adding coconut oil to their diet on a daily basis to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
Coconut oil is also known to help control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is usually preceded by an inability of the body’s cells to respond to insulin and thereby convert blood glucose into energy. A recent study conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research found that the medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by averting very insulin resistance.
Conversely, these medium-chain fatty acids are quickly absorbed into the cells and converted to energy, thereby enhancing insulin sensitivity.
Coconut oil also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, which plays a key role in preventing and treating diabetes. All these show that coconut oil is a comparatively more favorable fat option for diabetics than other edible and cooking oils and can be consumed without any apprehensions.
4. Treats Candida
Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that help protect the body from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Plus, the moisturizing and gentle nature of coconut oil makes it a great choice for treating different types of yeast infections. This oil is particularly helpful in preventing and treating the yeast infection known as candida.
Topical application of pure coconut oil to the affected skin provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida. Also, the high moisture-retaining capacity of the oil prevents the skin from cracking or peeling off. Those suffering from candida should increase their dietary intake of coconut oil as well to help speed up the healing process from within.
5. Removes Stretch Marks
Coconut oil is believed to effectively reduce the appearance of stretch marks due to its moisturizing and antioxidant properties. The healthy saturated fats in coconut oil may help strengthen the skin’s cell walls, and its antioxidant properties help fight free radicals and nourish damaged skin.
This oil is absorbed deep into the skin very quickly when massaged onto the affected area. Along with stretch marks, coconut oil also helps treat various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. To prevent or reduce stretch marks, you can use coconut oil both internally and externally.
6. Nourishes Hair
Coconut oil can effectively help maintain beautiful, healthy, and lustrous hair by curbing and compensating protein loss, which is often at the root of hair damage. In fact, it is considered one of the best natural treatment to promote the growth of your precious tresses. Being rich in medium-chain triglycerides, this oil easily penetrates deep into hair shafts, allowing the growth-promoting nutrients to reach inside the shaft of each hair.
This, in turn, helps speed the rate of hair growth while also improving the condition of damaged hair. Plus, the unique chemical structure of coconut oil has the power to keep your hair and scalp free from dandruff and lice.
Thus, to restore your damaged mane, simply massage warm coconut oil into your scalp, two or three times a week.
7. Aids Digestion
Studies show that coconut oil is extremely good for the digestive system. It aids the digestion process and prevents various stomach and gastrointestinal problems, such as indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, and constipation.
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil require less energy and fewer enzymes to break down. This allows the oil to be easily digested and absorbed with considerable ease, which is very important for people suffering from digestive problems.
Plus, coconut oil aids in the absorption of various nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, thereby enhancing the nutritional value of the food it is consumed with and aiding its digestion. If you suffer from poor digestion, pancreatic insufficiency, liver disease, or even malnutrition, adding coconut oil to your diet can help you regain your health in more ways than one. Furthermore, it may take only a few days for the improvement in your health condition to show.
8. Increases Bone Strength
Coconut oil improves the body’s absorption of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and other important minerals. Calcium and magnesium are critical in maintaining strong bones.
It has been found that middle-aged women who are prone to osteoporosis can significantly reduce their risk with regular intake of coconut oil.
Health experts even recommend giving extra virgin coconut oil to small children to improve their bone strength.
9. Combats Alzheimer’s Disease
There is a strong connection between regular consumption of coconut oil and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain problems. It is believed that the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketone bodies, which work as an alternative brain fuel. Further research in this regard is now underway.
As little as one daily serving of coconut oil will improve cognitive functioning and memory of people of all age groups, including seniors.
10. Promotes Weight Loss
As contradictory as it may sound, coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are more water-soluble than other oils like olive or canola oil. These medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed directly into the cells, which means the fat can be immediately combusted to release energy rather than stored in the body needlessly.
Thus, it has been well established that this oil is very effective in reducing the most dangerous accumulation of fat in the abdominal cavity and around the organs in the abdomen.
Furthermore, this edible oil is devoid of any carbs, accelerates body’s energy expenditure, curbs appetite, and helps increase the body’s metabolic rate. For all these reasons, several health experts recommend coconut oil to those who are trying to lose weight.
All these health perks make coconut oil a sought-after component of a wholesome and nutritious diet. And to reap its health bounties to the max, its best to use the extra virgin variety of coconut oil.
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- Chinwong S, Chinwong D, Mangklabruks A. Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745680/. Published December 14, 2017.
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