Coconut oil has been a dietary and beauty staple for ages in tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Its use and popularity is growing across the globe and for good reason. Coconut oil is an excellent source of nutrition and has many health benefits.
Because the oil contains more than 90 percent saturated fat, it was long believed to be unhealthy. But opinions are shifting as more is learned about the profound positive effects that coconut oil can have on health.
For example, it has antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. 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.
By adding coconut oil to your diet plan, you’ll keep your immune system strong year round and 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.
This in turn reduces the risk of injury and damage to arteries and helps prevent atherosclerosis. This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors will help lower your blood pressure level and reduce your risk of heart disease over the long term.
Those who have a family history of heart disease can benefit from adding coconut oil to their diet on a daily basis to reduce their risk.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
Coconut oil also is known to help control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin. 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.
These fats are absorbed into the cells easily and converted to energy quickly. This process improves insulin sensitivity. Coconut oil also promotes the effective utilization of blood glucose, which plays a key role in preventing as well as treating diabetes.
Coconut oil is one fat that diabetics can eat without fear and can benefit from opting for this oil over others when cooking.
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 on the affected skin provides relief from the inflammation caused by candida. Also, the high moisture-retaining capacity of the oil will keep the skin from cracking or peeling off. Those suffering from candida should also increase their intake of coconut oil to speed up the healing process.
5. Removes Stretch Marks
Coconut oil can effectively reduce the appearance of stretch marks due to its moisturizing and antioxidant properties. The healthy saturated fats in coconut oil will 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 into the affected area. Along with stretch marks, coconut oil also helps treat various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections.
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 shiny hair. It is considered one of the best natural nutrients for your hair. Being rich in medium-chain triglycerides, this oil easily penetrates deep into hair shafts, allowing essential nutrients required for hair growth 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.
For nourishing and healing damaged hair, simply massage your scalp with warm coconut oil 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 also prevents various stomach and gastrointestinal problems like 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, which is very important for people suffering from digestive problems.
Plus, coconut oil aids absorption of other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which help in the digestion process.
If you suffer from poor digestion or any kind of digestive problems, try adding coconut oil to your diet. Within a few days, you may notice a huge improvement in your condition.
8. Increases Bone Strength
Coconut oil aids the body’s absorption of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and other important minerals. Calcium and magnesium are critical for 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 and other brain problems.
A pediatrician, Dr. Mary Newport’s case study also suggests that coconut oil can be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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 for people of all age groups, including seniors.
10. Promotes Weight Loss
Coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are shorter and more water-soluble compared to 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 burned as energy rather than being stored in the body.
It has been found 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.
Further, this edible oil is easy to digest 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.
With all these health benefits, coconut oil is a good item to include in your diet. For maximum benefits, use extra virgin coconut oil.