28 Scientifically proven health benefits of coconut oil (#5 and #23 are Surprising)
You might be thinking that Coconut is a nut because of the name, but did you know that it’s also a fruit and a seed?? This Superfood falls under all the three categories because of the amazing characteristics and benefits it has. It can cure a variety of life threatening diseases such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. Before we jump into the benefits, here is a little about this amazing fruit.
Health benefits of coconut oil explained...
All about Coconuts
Coconuts grow mainly on sandy beaches in tropical locations, places where both sunlight and rainfall are abundant. The coconut tree itself is relatively large, growing up to 100 feet tall in some areas. A typical mature coconut weights about 3 pounds. The origin of the coconut tree is currently under debate, but it is generally more or less accepted than it originated in the Indian region.
Coconuts can grow naturally on beaches but have recently been harvested inland and domesticated. To do this the trees need to be frequently irrigated. This requires effort and maintenance but has become a huge industry due to the increased awareness of the many benefits of coconut milk and coconut water.
Where can you find coconut trees?
Coconut trees can be found in South America, Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Northern Australia and the Atlantic coasts of Africa, as well as other regions with suitable conditions. Coconuts do not grow in cold weather and need abundant rainfall to grow, as well as high humidity.
The Anatomy of Coconut
The coconut has a range of uses and applications. The coconut is technically a fruit with a hard exterior and an inner layer consisting of white coconut milk and coconut water. Both the water and the milk of the coconut have different uses. The inner coconut milk is also called the flesh or meat of the coconut, and coconut water has been called the “juice” of the coconut. There are also young coconuts and old coconuts. The young coconuts are paler than the bigger brown, more mature coconuts.
The Versatile Fruit
Coconuts are renowned for their versatility as they have traditionally been used for a variety of different purposes. They are probably the most useful all around and complete food source on the planet, as will be seen below. It can be used as a food source, as an essential oil, as a cosmetic, for frying, for furniture, brushing teeth and cleaning.
Practically every part of the coconut has some use and some economic value. All this is aside from a lot of health benefits associated with both coconut milk and coconut water.
What does coconut oil look like?
Coconut oil is typically either clear if in liquid form and white when solid.
In Sanskrit, the word coconut is loosely translated to “food that sustains all life”. It has so many uses and is the ultimate food source. If you were starving on a tropical island all you need to survive, and possible even to thrive, is a supply of coconuts. It has all nutritional requirements and much besides (you may also need a meat cleaver of some sort. Coconuts are hard to open). The coconut has huge symbolic significance for many cultures. In India, it is used for Hindu rituals and is regarded as a sacred fruit.
Coconut milk is filling and nutritious. Not only is it healthier than dairy milk, but it tastes far better. It tastes like something that should be bad for you, but it is anything but. Coconut milk can be extracted by passing hot water through the grated coconut flesh, extracting the oil and compounds.
The coconut “milk” is stored within the meat/flesh of the coconut. If you blend coconut meat and strain it, you will be left with thick, delicious coconut milk. Older coconuts have more coconut meat as opposed to young coconuts, at the expense of coconut water. Younger coconuts have more coconut water than older coconuts.
Nutrients in Coconut Milk
Coconut milk contains a lot of saturated fatty acids which are extremely good for the body. Not only this, but coconut milk contains the impossible to find lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil). This precious oil is easily absorbed by the body. These oils can also lower cholesterol levels, improves blood pressure and help to prevent heart disease.
The only downside is for those who wish to lose some weight, as coconut milk packs a lot of calories. Full fat coconut milk retains all of its fatty acids, while “light” coconut products are coconut milk products with the essential fatty acids strained out, containing less fatty acids per serving and fewer calories.
Coconut milk is free from lactose, soy, nuts, and grains so coconut milk is a good option for those who have certain allergic reactions. A quarter cup of full-fat coconut milk contains around 138 calories, 2 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein and good amounts of copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron.
Coconut water is one of the biggest items in the alternative food marketplace at present and with good reason. With little calories and plenty of electrolytes, it really is the drink of the gods. Under certain situations, coconut water has even been used as a form of IV treatment.
Coconut water is found in young coconuts, ideally around 5 to 7 months old. Per cup, coconut water contains less than 50 calories, 9 grams of natural sugar, tiny amounts of protein and no fat. It is a dream fluid for those who intend to lose weight.
The main nutrient found in coconut water is potassium, as well as calcium and magnesium. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are known as electrotypes and serve multiple functions within the body, including blood and heart health as well as hydration and energy levels.
How Does Coconut Water Help you?
Magnesium is also good for relaxation and a good night’s sleep. Getting these vital nutrients naturally in the form of coconut water is far better than getting them from tablets or supplements. Coconut water also contains good amounts of dietary fiber (11% RDA per cup), riboflavin (9%) and manganese (17%).
Coconut water also tastes great and can be a fantastic alternative to sugary drinks, especially if you are trying to wean off these drinks. Coconut water also contains plant hormones known as Cytokinins which are currently being investigated for their anti-carcinogenic properties.
Coconut water is an excellent drink for all people, with the exception of those with kidney disease who do not need excessive amounts of potassium in their diets.
Coconut Oil Processing
There are too many uses and benefits of coconut oil to list in a single entry. Coconut oil can help with skin, hair, weight loss, yeast infections, digestion and aids in boosting the immune system. Coconut oil, sometimes referred to as copra oil, is extracted from the meat of the mature coconut.
Coconut oil has high saturated fat content and can last up to 6 months. Coconut oil can be extracted through either dry or wet processing. It is important to choose virgin coconut oil where possible, as opposed to refined coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is oil that is produced without dried copra. Refined coconut oils are usually referred to as “RBD coconut oils”, standing for refined, bleached and deodorized.
Is refined Coconut Oil Bad?
But refined coconut oils are not as bad as they sound. Bleaching is not actually a chemical process, just a filtration process to remove impurities. And steam is used to deodorize the coconut oil itself. While virgin coconut oils do have more nutrients than refined oils, it does not mean refined oils are unhealthy in any way. The most common forms of refined coconut oils are expeller pressed coconut oil, plain unlabeled coconut oil, liquid coconut oil and hydrogenated coconut oil.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil which is wet milled is generally the best type of oil with the highest level of antioxidants. Interestingly it has been shown that hot extracted virgin coconut oil (HEVCO) has the highest number of antioxidants, followed by cold extracted coconut oil (CEVCO), which was in turn followed by refined coconut oil. Remember it is not very important to have the organic label on a coconut product.
There are no GMO coconuts and they do not require herbicides or pesticides. A virgin coconut oil will do, preferably wet milled and heat processed.
Is refined coconut oil good for you?
Though refined coconut oils are not bad for you, you may want to stay away from hydrogenated coconut oil. It contains some trans fats which are definitely not needed by the body. With regard to extra virgin coconut oil, it really is just a marketing term and no different from virgin coconut oil. This is in contrast with the olive oil industry where there is a technical difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Coconut oil supplement benefits are many but not as good as getting the real coconut oil.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oils
Is coconut oil good for you? What do you do with coconut oil? When you have finally chosen your coconut oil, there are an infinite number of uses. The first is that Coconut oil is an edible oil, often solid (like butter) and can be used as a spread on bread or more frequently for cooking a stir fry.
There are over 1500 studies on the incredible benefits of coconut oils. It moisturizes the skin, balances hormones, improves Alzheimer’s, decreases wrinkles and improves the digestion, to name just a few. Coconut oil can be used as cream in your coffee, as mayonnaise, as a preservative, in baths, as toothpaste and on, and on, and on. The uses of coconut oils are truly endless.
The following is a list of the scientifically verified benefits of coconut oil.
#1.Helps with Diabetes
According to studies done on rats, coconut oil has the potential to lessen the effects of type 1 diabetes. After nearly 5 weeks’ rats showed significant improvements in blood sugar levels. This is believed to occur due to the ability of the administered coconut oil to improve insulin secretion, which allows for more balanced blood sugar levels.
#2.Neutralizes free radicals
Free radicals are harmful agents which result in the aging process. Free radicals are essential in metabolism and the functioning of the body. But if they build up too much they cause oxidative stress, which leads to inflammation and numerous other issues.
Coconut oil has been proven to reduce this oxidative stress by a significant amount, neutralizing excessive free radicals which could do damage to the body in multiple ways.
#3.Boosts the Thyroid
An improperly functioning thyroid is linked with a number of symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, weight gain, depression, muscle aches and more. It is an increasing cause for concern and often quite difficult to troubleshoot. People with low thyroid hormones have hypothyroidism, a common and destructive disease.
Thyroid hormones play a vital role in regulating your metabolism and improper levels will have many symptoms. Coconut oil has been proven to boost thyroid function due to the levels of capric acid present. This helps the thyroid produce thyroid hormones at the correct levels and allow the thyroid to regulate the metabolism of the cells.
#4.Slows the Anti-Aging Process
Skin cells, like other cells, contain fatty acids. The specialized fatty acids in coconut oil help to balance the different fatty acid levels in the skin. This helps in a number of ways, helping the skin to remain moisturized, reducing wrinkles and increasing the ability of the skin to naturally repair itself.
Coconut oil also boosts collagen production, one of the most important factors in skin elasticity and flexibility. Collagen supplements are quite expensive but are worth it to get healthy looking skin. But taking a precursor to collagen production is cheaper and more effective than going the supplement route.
The MCT oils abundant in coconut oils and few other dietary staples have been proven by numerous studies to reduce stress under a variety of conditions. A regular intake of MCT oils helps prevent stress-induced depression according to one study, which means that coconut oil is a calming remedy.
Coconut oil has the advantage of protecting the brain and helping with brain disorders. Again, this is because of the hard to find compounds of medium chain triglyceride oils found in coconut oil. These MCT oils are absorbed more easily than the more common long chain triglyceride oils found in other food sources. These MCT oils can be converted into ketones which the brain loves.
There is a whole diet known as the ketogenic diet which encourages the body to burn ketones which help the brain run more smoothly and have more focus. Unique compounds found in coconut oil also have the ability to prevent Alzheimer’s according to some theorists. These compounds are known as unique phenolic compounds.
#7.Helps with Weight Reduction
This again links into the production of ketones. The body will be burning these ketones and using fat as an energy source as opposed to carbs. It is basically improving your metabolism by eating coconut oil.
Research comparing intake of MCT fatty acids as opposed to LCT fatty acids found that weight loss was more significant in the group taking the medium chain fatty acids as opposed to the long-chain fatty acids.
#8.Helps to Build Muscle
Coconut oil encourages the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin controls the blood sugar levels in the bloodstream and is also responsible for transferring nutrients to the muscles. Increased insulin suppression is a goal of many weightlifting athletes for this very reason. It is a common tactic for increasing muscle mass. Maintaining healthy levels of hormones such as insulin will also have associated benefits aside from just an increase in muscle mass.
#10.Targets Belly Flab
Certain types of obesity are more harmful than others. One of the most statistically dangerous places to store excess fat is in the abdominals. This is mainly because the abdominals are where your intestines are, and abdominal fat is a sign that your digestive system is not functioning correctly.
An improperly function digestive system means that you are slow to digest food and not absorbing enough nutrients from what you consume. And if you do not get enough nutrients say goodbye to any standard of health. Abdominal obesity is the number one risk factor when determining the likelihood of heart disease. Tests conducted on women with abdominal obesity have shown a significant reduction in waist circumference, after being giving regular supplements of coconut oil against a control group of soy oil.
Coconut oil is known to reduce appetite, which also ties into weight loss. The less hungry you are the less you eat. It essentially makes people less hungry after eating. When compared to long chain oils researchers have found that medium chain oils are more effective at reducing appetite. Though the cause of this is most likely related to the release of certain hormones no conclusive hormone has been identified as of yet.
#12.Prevents Heart Disease
Numerous studies have shown that heart disease is caused by harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and not by high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). This was not known until the last decade and has been the cause of much controversy given the recommendation for expensive cholesterol lowering supplements which did not take into account the value of high-density lipoprotein, which actually reduces the chance of coronary heart disease.
Many studies have proven that coconut oil reduces LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that virgin coconut oil is better at reducing bad and improving good cholesterol more than standard copra oil. Essentially coconut oil helps to prevent heart disease.
#13.Speeds up Metabolism
Everybody wants a high metabolism. We have all seen those people who have a 22-inch pizza and a liter of coke without a backward glance and looking razor thin. These are the people with a fast metabolism. They simply burn whatever they put into their bodies quickly.
Medium chain fatty acids go straight from the digestive system to the liver, instead of hanging around the organs like the long chain fatty acids. In the liver, they are transformed into ketones.
Studies on rats have shown that metabolism is improved more on medium chain fatty acids as opposed to long chain fatty acids. This would suggest that coconut oil has the ability to increase individual metabolism to burn fats and calories quicker.
#14.Good for Hair
Coconut is not only good for your insides but is also beneficial for the outside. One study has shown that coconut oil can prevent comb damage on all hair types. This is in comparison to a number of popular hair oils, which showed significantly fewer results. The high protein affinity, low weight and small size of coconut oil make it excellent at protecting from hair damage.
Coconut is actually widely used to fight against dandruff. Studies have shown that coconut oil is good for treating xerosis and can increase lipid levels as well as hydrate the skin. By moisturizing the head so effectively with coconut oil, dandruff will be a thing of the past.
#16.Moisturizes the Skin
Following on from the previous benefit, coconut oil is highly effective at moisturizing the skin. Coconut oil is used as a moisturizer in many countries due to it hydrating capabilities. In one study for atopic dermatitis, only one patient out of 20 was left with the illness after treatment with coconut oil. Atopic dermatitis is marked by extremely dry skin conditions.
#17.Can be used as a sunscreen
Another skin related benefit of coconut oil is that it can be used as a sunscreen. One study concluded that coconut oil is able to block out around 20% of the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. Coconut oil has been given a sun protection factor of 7.1, just under olive oil but above the majority of other natural oils.
#18.Antidote to Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Coconut oil pulling has long been established as a method for preventing tooth decay and bleeding gums. Many studies have concluded that oil pulling is effective for oral health. Researchers noted a significant decrease in plaque when coconut oil was used, after as little as 7 days.
Due to its antibacterial properties, coconut oil can be used as an alternative to mouthwash, which often contains harmful additives you do not want in your body.
#19.Treats Yeast Infections
Coconut oil has been proven to battle candidiasis and yeast infections, due to its qualities as an antibacterial agent. The medium chain fatty acids in Coconut oil have antifungal properties, which means that the area can be effectively treated without resorting to any harmful chemicals.
The antibacterial qualities of coconut oil are usually attributed to lauric acid, which is ultimately converted to monolaurin. Monolaurin essentially destroys harmful bacteria. Coconut oil reduces most strains of candida and completely wipes out some strains completely.
#20.Aids the Kidney and Liver
All organs are vital organs. But the kidney and the liver have special significance. You want these detoxification systems in good working order. If your body is not detoxing toxins, then you are in trouble, as they will accumulate.
Scientists have found that coconut oil has the capacity to protect the liver from excess toxins. Coconut oil has been proven to protect and strengthen the kidneys and the liver.
#21.Treats Bladder and Kidney Stones
When the MCT oils in coconut oils are digested, they produce Monoctanoin, a cholesterol solvent that has the ability to dissolve gallstones. One study reported that up to 75% of patients who took Monoctanoin, supplements had their gallstones completely dissolved.
The daily ingestion of coconut oil can assist in preventing the formation of gallstones in the first place. Prevention is always the best cure.
#22.Relieves both Arthritis and Inflammation
The high levels of antioxidants found in coconut oil were proven in an Indian study to relieve the effects of arthritis and inflammation. The conclusion was that the reduction of arthritis and inflammation was due to the high levels of antioxidants contained in the virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is held to be a cancer preventative not just because of the beneficial antioxidants present in the oil, but also because of the ketones. Tumors need glucose to survive and grow, and ketones act as a barrier to the growth of cancerous tumors.
Studies have shown that coconut oil inhibits the growth of cancerous cells, compared to other oils.
Again, due to the presence of ketones, coconut oil has the ability to reduce the effects of seizures. One study produced in the UK found that there were fewer incidents and severity of seizures in children who undertook a ketogenic diet. However, the main conclusion was that this was because of the low carb content and high-fat content. But the essential compounds for a high-fat low-carb diet are found in coconut oil, meaning it definitely can’t hurt.
#25.Coconut Oil for Digestion
The digestive system is very important, as it is responsible for the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients. Without nutrients for an extended period of time people tend to suffer long-term damages even death in worst cases. Better digestion means more absorption of minerals and vitamins. Studies have also shown that coconut oil helps to promote the breakdown and digestion of lipids.
#26.Battles Pancreatitis and Gallbladder Disease
The introduction of coconut oil helps eliminate strain on both the gallbladder and pancreas. Because it is so easily digested it can help with symptoms of pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. This is because the MCT oils in coconut oil do not require pancreatic enzymes to be broken down.
Osteoporosis is responsible for weak bones. Coconut oil helps to absorb calcium in the body, and more calcium means healthier bones which lead to a lesser chance of developing weak bones with decreasing bone volume. Coconut oil allows more calcium to be taken up by the body.
The antioxidants found in coconut oil also help to fight free radicals which may be responsible for weak bones. Coconut oil anti-inflammatory benefits are numerous.
Balanced hormone levels are essential for a vital lifestyle. Coconut oil has been proven to balance levels of estrogen during pre-menopause and post-menopause cycles for women. It is also known to have a positive effect on balancing insulin and testosterone levels indirectly.
Coconut Oil Conclusion
It is important to do coconut oil research before consuming coconut oil. The benefits of coconut cannot be understated and it is a superfood that should definitely be consumed if you happen to be living in a coconut producing area. Many people ask can you eat coconut oil? And some ask how to take coconut oil. It has a number of different uses and you can eat coconut oil if it is virgin oil.
Drinking coconut oil is a great way to start the day and actually very popular for those undertaking a ketogenic diet. Simply add the coconut oil to coffee and enjoy the lauric acid benefits. Ultimately there are simply too many benefits and uses of coconut oil to miss out.
How much coconut oil should you have a day is up to you, but it is quite powerful. A couple of tablespoons taken orally should suffice. While some advocate a ketogenic diet, a coconut oil diet may be too much for many people and comes with associated problems.