Coconut oil is one of those foods that get a lot of attention and discussion. While some health experts call it a superfood with a unique combination of wellness-promoting fatty acids; others go so far as to call it “poison”. How do you know who to believe?
Well, as with so many heated debates, the reality lies somewhere in between. It is true that people who consume a lot of this oil; have less heart disease than those who do not. But it is also true that it contains about 80% saturated fat; more than red meat which contains 50% saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet leads to cardiovascular problems, including heart disease.
It is the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil that provide health benefits. If you know how they behave in the body; you can decide if a daily course of coconut oil is right for you. We will break down the good and not so good things that can happen to your body if you consume it daily.
Coconut oil Increased fat burning
The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in this oil are believed to increase calorie burning. One study showed that taking 15 to 30 grams of MCTs per day increases energy consumption (calorie burning) by 5%.
If you’re trying to shed the pounds, any extra burn is helpful. And that’s the key to getting the most out of a MCT-rich diet – it must be accompanied; by a reduction in carbohydrates and, even better, a sports programme.
Protection against harmful micro-organisms
About 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acids. During digestion, lauric acid is converted into a compound called monolaurin. Research indicates that both lauric acid and monolaurin are capable of killing harmful pathogens, including viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Studies have shown that both Candida albicans, the cause of yeast infections; and Staphylococcus aureus, a potentially deadly pathogen, are sensitive to lauric acid and monolaurin.
Reduced hunger and cravings
An interesting property of coconut oil fatty acids is that they can actually help with weight loss. MCTs are digested differently from other types of fats. They go directly to the liver and are either used as an energy source or converted into ketones.
Ketones are a type of acid produced in the liver from fat and used as energy. In combination with other measures, the consumption of this oil could lead to weight loss. In addition, coconut oil can help reduce feelings of hunger. Studies show that people who consume the most MCT in the morning consume fewer calories overall during the day.
coconut oil Improved HDL cholesterol levels
Too much saturated fat is bad for you, but not all saturated fat is created equal. Some studies have shown that the fats in coconut oil increase the level of HDL (“good”); cholesterol in the body, while converting LDL (“bad”) cholesterol into a less harmful form.
Many experts therefore believe that coconut oil is indeed good for heart health; although it is mainly composed of saturated fats.
coconut oil Fewer epileptic seizures
The so-called “keto diet” is currently very popular. It is based on a high fat intake in order to produce ketones in the bloodstream. The keto diet leads to weight loss, but it is also being studied for the treatment of various diseases. One of these is epilepsy.
Research indicates that a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet can reduce the frequency; of seizures in children with epilepsy, even though several other medications have not been effective.
coconut oil Improved skin and teeth health
Coconut oil doesn’t have to be consumed to be useful. It also has a multitude of cosmetic and topical applications. It can be massaged into the skin, like a lotion, to moisturize it. Some studies have also shown that coconut oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema.
And even if you can’t throw on your regular sunscreen, coconut oil blocks about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Some people even put coconut oil in their mouth to kill bacteria and improve their breath.
On the other hand, maybe the opposite.
The reason there is so much discussion about the health value of coconut oil; is that many of the claims about coconut oil come from a single study. Although coconut oil contains more MCTs than other fat sources; St-Onge’s study was done with a designer oil that contained 100% MCTs. Normal coconut oil only contains about 13-15%.
And while some studies have shown that coconut oil can have a positive effect on bad cholesterol; other studies have been unable to establish a difference between the behavior of coconut oil and other saturated fats. This led the American Heart Association to warn against coconut oil consumption.
Ultimately, your opinion on coconut oil should be based on an assessment of the evidence combined with your personal experience. Because of its saturated fatty acid content, it is best not to consume too much of it every day. Keep in mind that this means you have to eat extremely low carb to compensate.
All the experts agree that coconut oil is very good for your skin. Even if you don’t eat it very often, rubbing your skin with coconut oil; can eliminate dry itchiness and give it a smooth texture. You can also use it as a leave-in conditioner; for the ends of your hair or use it as a natural mouthwash in your mouth.