From dry skin, to cooking, to hormone support, to heart health, or weight loss, it seems like no matter what you are looking for, coconut oil is the answer. We hear a lot of hype around coconut oil being the cure for everything, but what’s the reality? Unfortunately, there is no magic pill (or oil) that is the answer to everything, but coconut oil does have some impressive attributes.
- Boosts Energy: Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), where other types of oil contain longer chain triglycerides. MCTs are more rapidly absorbed and utilized by the body’s cells which provide the body with a quick boost of energy. This process causes your mitochondria (cellular power plants) to produce more energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). More cellular energy means that you will have more energy all over too!
- Helps to Boost Brain Function: If MCTs aren’t immediately used for energy, they are converted to ketones in the liver, supplying energy for the brain cells. This has been shown to provide a lot of benefit in the treatment of seizures, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Helps Fight Heart Disease: MCTs have also been found to increase your good HDL cholesterol, which decreases the risk of cardiac problems.
- Antibacterial: About 50% of fatty acids found in coconut oil are 12-carbon lauric acid. When digested in our stomachs this becomes monolaurin; both of these have antimicrobial properties and help kill different bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This can help boost our immune health and help us fight off many different illnesses.
- Helps to Burn Fat: The MCTs in coconut oil can increase how many calories you burn. Studies have shown that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5% which equates to 120 calories per day.
- Helps to Reduce Hunger: The fatty acids in coconut oil help us to lose weight over time due to the way that our bodies metabolize these fats. Since ketones can have an appetite reducing effect, this is why adding coconut oil to our diets can actually help us lose weight over time. Studies have shown that men consume 256 fewer calories on average when they incorporated coconut oil into their daily diet regimen.
- Helps to Protect Skin, Hair and Oral Health: Coconut oil is also a common ingredient in many health and beauty products because it is a great moisturizer. You can apply it directly to dry skin and hair for added moisture and to reduce symptoms of eczema. It also blocks about 20% of UV rays, so it can be used to protect hair and skin from the sun. Another way to incorporate coconut oil is to use it like a mouthwash which can kill some harmful bacteria in the mouth and improve dental health as well as reduce bad breath.
- Helps Prevent Osteoporosis: Coconut oil contains antioxidants which eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are produced by osteoclasts which play a major role in the degeneration of bones. Menopausal women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis which is linked to an increase of oxidative stress. Coconut oil’s antioxidants help to eliminate oxidative stress, leading to restoration of the bone density. Some hormones, such as estrogen regulate the bone mineral density and after menopause the lower production of these hormones may reduce bone density in women. Phenolic acids that are present in coconut oil are also thought to initiate estrogen release from the body by regulating the metabolic pathways that are responsible for it, which is why regular use of coconut oil can mitigate the effects of osteoporosis.
- Helps Liver Health: About two thirds of the fats in coconut oil are MCTs and when consumed the body breaks down the MCTs and utilizes medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are immediately transported from the digestive tract into the liver without needing bile to be metabolized. From here they are used for energy and stored in the body like other fats. The conversion of MCFAs into energy benefits the liver by reducing its workload and preventing fat accumulation. MCFAs also carry an antimicrobial property that enables them to destroy harmful viruses which can attack the liver causing hepatitis or an infection. They also protect the liver against free radical damage and prevent tissue injury which enables the liver to regenerate and support the immune system. The anti-inflammatory benefits of coconut oil can help to reduce inflammation and swelling that is associated with fatty liver disease.
- Helps to Improve Digestion: Coconut oil’s anti-microbial properties become activated once triglycerides are converted into monoglycerides and free fatty acids in the digestive tract. This process improves digestion and nutrient absorption in the GI tract. Coconut oil also helps with food digestion by the intake of fat-soluble components like vitamins and magnesium. It can also help eliminate toxic bacteria and candida, which in turn improves inflammation and digestion as well as helping to prevent stomach ulcers.
As you can see, coconut oil can be used in many different ways to keep us looking and feeling our best. Because it is available at almost every grocery store and very affordable, it is easy to add to your daily routine. As with any supplements there are always side effects to consider. Make sure to do you research and talk to a professional before adding coconut oil into your daily regimen.