Coconut oil is everywhere – in our hair oils, body lotions, hand creams, shower gels, and more. This apart, it is also a valuable functional food. Coconut oil is abundantly used in tropical and coastal regions for cooking and it seems to have a lot of perks, too. Also known as copra oil, it has often been demonized for its saturated fatty acid content that leads to high cholesterol and heart health issues. However, studies show that natural, non-hydrogenated, and non-adulterated coconut oil has no adverse health effects.Coconut oil has a long list of great qualities to its credit – it’s an antioxidant, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral.You’ve heard a lot of legends; now it’s time to validate the many health benefits of coconut oil.
8 Benefits Of Coconut Oil
1. Aids Weight Loss
Can oil help you stay in shape? Wait a minute. Can SATURATED fat be good for your waistline? Well, coconut oil certainly can. The fatty acid chains in coconut oil vary greatly from other saturated fats and animal fat. Though saturated fat is demonized, coconut oil has small and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) rather than long ones, which is uncommon. What does that mean for you? These MCTs metabolize easily and are readily converted to energy. It doesn’t deposit as fat in the body unlike most other oils (yay!).
Studies show that an intake of an MCT-rich diet 30 minutes before meals leads to a significant drop in the number of calories consumed. However, since they are not metabolized by the intestinal walls like most other fats, the job of doing so goes to the liver. It is all very well, but for some individuals, it may lead to adverse reactions like vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia. So if you’re new to coconut oil, incorporate it gradually in your diet.
2. Supports Thyroid Gland And Brain
An interesting clinical experiment where pregnant mice were fed coconut oil–enriched diets showed that brain development was superior in the offsprings. Coconut oil supports the thyroid function, which in turn governs brain development. The thyroid gland is also in charge of myelination, the process by which nerve cells are protected and insulated. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
3. Moisturizes And Hydrates Skin
Coconut oil, particularly virgin coconut oil, can ease many of your skin woes. It boosts collagen, accelerates wound healing, slows down skin aging due to its high level of antioxidants, and is a wonderful natural moisturizer. It is effective in dealing with several skin conditions like xerosis (abnormally dry skin). When 34 patients with xerosis were asked to moisturize their skin with coconut oil and mineral oil, the coconut oil group reported slightly better (not much) improvement. It improved skin hydration and surface lipid levels.
In another study done to understand the wound-healing properties of coconut oil, it was found that coconut oil, when used in conjunction with silver sulphadiazine, leads to much better burn wound healing than other methods.
The fresh lauric acid content in coconut oil relieves skin troubles. Its antimicrobial qualities also protect the skin from various bacterial, protozoal, and viral infections.
4. Nourishes Hair
Coconut oil is great for your mane. It hydrates your tresses, promotes luxurious hair growth, and even fights lice! It penetrates the human hair cortex a whole lot better than most mineral oils and is able to reverse the damage. Coconut oil treatments have been seen to prevent hair damage from combing.
So whether your hair is wavy, curly, or poker straight, you can use it in your hair care regimen. You can even try a weekly coconut oil hair mask by whipping it together with some honey or mashed avocado to deeply hydrate and condition your mane. If that’s too messy for you, a coconut oil head massage can be your cup of tea.
5. Enhances Fat And Mineral Absorption In Premature Babies
According to a study, an MCT-enriched diet (present in coconut oil) given to premature infants enhanced their fat and mineral absorption. They were able to match their counterparts who were normal term infants. Even infants with diarrhea are observed to be able to tolerate high-MCT diets.
6. Wards Off Dental Issues
Oil pulling with coconut oil can reduce cavities, as the British Dental Association reports. They observed that coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most Streptococcus bacteria, which leads to dental carries.
How’s oil pulling done? Take about a tablespoon of any oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes before spitting it out first thing in the morning. This practice, with its roots in Ayurveda, is great for oral health and general detoxification of the body. The swishing action activates the enzymes that draw out toxins from the blood. The most common oils used for oil pulling include coconut oil, palm oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil.
According to another study on 60 patients with plaque-induced gingivitis in the 16–18 year age group, it was observed that oil pulling with coconut oil can help in decreasing plaque and plaque-induced gingivitis. Due to the high content of lauric acid in coconut oil, it has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects that keep up dental health.
7. Keeps A Tab On Cholesterol And Heart Disease
Studies have reported coconut oil to be quite supporting of lowering cholesterol, which leads to lower risk of heart disease. When rats were fed coconut oil for 45 days, their HDL cholesterol (the good kind) rose. Not only that, it also reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, and LDL (the bad cholesterol). All this is good news for the heart.
8. Saves Your Bones
According to a study wherein, female rats with osteoporosis were given 8% virgin coconut oil supplements in their diet, there was a significant improvement in bone volume. The rats, who were all postmenopausal, were supplemented with virgin coconut oil just for six weeks. The study concluded that virgin coconut oil is effective in maintaining bone structure and preventing bone loss in the estrogen-deficient rat model. Osteoporosis is a common concern in women, especially after menopause. It may just be a good idea to pop some coconut oil capsules or pills and supplements once you hit menopause.
As research tells us, regular consumption of coconut oil can make us healthier and help us live longer. Make this miracle oil a part of your diet.