Coconut Oil Benefits: Does It Fulfill The Hype?

Manufacturers have replaced other oils with Coconut Oil in packaged products, and many households use it for cooking. It features not only in fried food, but in sweets, shampoos, coffee, and smoothies.

With time, it has grown in popularity in recent years, amid claims that it can do everything. From supporting weight loss to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. But, is it worth a shot?

For your information, Coconut oil has a 90 percent chance of saturated fat content. Not to mention, oils high in saturated fats have been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. For instance, in July 2016, the results of a survey in the United States (U.S.) showed that 72 percent of people think coconut oil is healthful.

However, only 37 percent of nutritionists agree. After all, it is still a saturated fat, and the American Heart Association (AHA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) caution consumers. Especially, against coconut oil and other tropical oils.

In general, Coconut oil contains 2.6 percent fewer calories than other fats. With this in mind, find out more about the controversy, and whether you should make coconut oil a staple in your diet.
Coconut Oil Benefits
What to Know about Coconut Oil – Image by moho01 from Pixabay

What is Coconut Oil good for?

In the first place, it is high in healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most other fats in your diet. These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy.

Secondly, it’s one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.” In addition, it’s high in fats called medium-chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than most other fats. These special fats are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of coconut oil.

For one thing, they raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood. And which is linked to reduced heart disease risk. So, its unique combination of fatty acids can have positive effects on your health. Such as, fat loss, better brain function, and various other impressive benefits as was will be illustrated below.

Main Reasons Why Coconut Oil Is Good For You:

  1. Increasing “good” cholesterol: A component in coconut oil has been found to give “good” HDL cholesterol “a nudge.”
  2. Controlling blood sugar: It appears to preserve insulin action and insulin resistance in mice.
  3. Reducing stress: It has antistress and antioxidant properties, which could make it useful as an antidepressant, according to research in rodents.
  4. Shiny hair: It makes hair shinier because it penetrates better than mineral oils.
  5. Healthy skin: It has been found to enhance protective barrier functions and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin in humans.
  6. Preventing liver disease: It has reversed hepatosteatosis, a type of fatty liver disease, in rodents.
  7. Reducing asthma symptoms: Inhaling coconut oil has helped reduce asthma symptoms in rabbits.
  8. Fighting candida: It has reduced colonization with Candida albicans in mice, suggesting it could be a treatment for candida.
  9. Improving satiety: One argument has been that coconut oil leaves people feeling “fuller” after eating, so they will not eat so much. However, other research has shown that this is not the case.
  10. Weight loss: It has reduced obesity and promoted weight loss in mice.

Is Coconut Oil Healthier Than Olive Oil?

In terms of health impacts, it is better to cook with olive oil. Compared to a tablespoon of Olive Oil, a tablespoon of Coconut Oil contains about six times the amount of saturated fat. Nearly, meeting the daily limit of about 13 grams that the American Heart Association recommends.

High saturated fat intake has been tied to increased levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, Olive Oil, a main component of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, contains beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

“Between the two, olive oil is a better choice since monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on your heart when eaten in moderation. And also, when used to replace saturated and trans fats in your diet,” said Annessa Chumbley, a registered dietitian, and spokeswoman for the A.H.A.

Earlier this year, the organization issued an advisory that firmly reiterated its guidance to consumers to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats to help prevent heart disease. Consumers were also urged to keep in mind the bigger picture of an overall healthy eating pattern.

Coconut Oil
Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil – Image by Manueltapi from Pixabay

Coconut oil quick Facts you Need to Know

While a number of investigations have looked into coconut oil and its possible benefits, it should be noted that many of the studies supporting its benefits have not yet been carried out on humans.

In addition, all high-fat foods and oils are high in calories. Adding in more calorie-dense food to a diet that already has plenty of calories will not result in weight loss.

Consider Coconut Oil Nutrition Values

Although Coconut Oil is 100 percent fat, the structure of fat in it differs from the saturated fat found in many animal products.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one tablespoon, or 15 milliliters (ml) of coconut oil contains:

  • 0 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol
  • 120 calories
  • 0 g of protein
  • 14 g of fat, of which 12 g is saturated, 1 g is monounsaturated, and 0.5 g is polyunsaturated
  • It provides no fiber and little to no vitamins or minerals.

Coconut Oil Benefits By Types

Coconut oil has an unusually high amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are harder for the body to convert into stored fat, and easier to burn off than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Many of the benefits claimed for coconut oil is due to the high MCT content.

Important to realize, not all coconut oils are the same, and some are more healthful than others. For example, partially hydrogenated coconut oil is just as harmful as other highly processed oils that contain trans fats. These are not healthful.

Benefits Between Refined & Virgin Oil

Generally, refined coconut oil is extracted from chemically bleached and deodorized coconut meat. Whereas, virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh, mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals.

What are the Benefits of Coconut Oil?

One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day. In addition, it has very high saturated fat content. In fact, about 87% of its fat is saturated.

This feature makes it one of the best fats for high-heat cooking, including frying. Saturated fats retain their structure when heated to high temperatures, unlike the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in vegetable oils.

Therefore, coconut oil is a safer alternative for cooking at high temperatures. It is considered unrefined, and it may offer various health benefits. Including,

1. Used As A Staple Food

Coconut is an exotic food in the Western world, primarily consumed by health-conscious people. However, in some parts of the world, coconut food (loaded with coconut oil) is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for many generations.

The best example of such a population is the Tokelauans, which live in the South Pacific. They used to eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts. When studied, they were found to be in excellent health, with very low rates of heart disease.

Another example of a population that ate a lot of Coconuts and remained in excellent health is the Kitavans. In other words, several populations around the world have thrived for multiple generations eating massive amounts of coconut.

2. Coconut Oil Helps Control Hunger 

This may be related to the way the fats are metabolized because ketones can have an appetite reducing the effect. One interesting feature of the fatty acids in it is that they can reduce your hunger.

In one study, varying amounts of medium and long-chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average. Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch.

These studies were small and only done for short periods of time. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could help lead to reduced body weight over a period of several years.

3. It Provides Us With Useful Fatty Acids

Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most other fats in your diet. These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. They also raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk.

Most fats in the diet are called long-chain triglycerides, but the fats in coconut oil are known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). What this means is that the fatty acids are shorter than most other fats.

When you eat these types of fats, they go straight to the liver, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketones. Ketones can have powerful benefits for the brain and are being studied as a treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and other conditions.

4. Coconut Oil Helps Burn Fat 

Given that it can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight. Coconut Oil appears to be especially effective at reducing belly fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs.

While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, others (myself included) believe that the sources of those calories are important too. Not forgetting, obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world.

It is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. In this regard, a calorie is not a calorie. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in it can increase how many calories you burn compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats.

5. Dental, Hair And Skin Health

Coconut oil has many uses that have nothing to do with eating it. Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair. Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of the skin. It can also reduce symptoms of eczema (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source).

Coconut oil can also be protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as a weak sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source). Another application is using it like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath.

6. The Good HDL Cholesterol

Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that increase the good HDL cholesterol in your body. They may also help turn the bad LDL cholesterol into a less harmful form.

In one study in 40 women, coconut oil reduced total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL compared to soybean oil. Another study in 116 patients showed that a dietary program that included coconut oil raised levels of good HDL cholesterol.

7. Coconut Oil Reduces Seizures

A so-called ketogenic (very low carb, very high fat) diet is currently being studied to treat various disorders. The best known therapeutic application of this diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children.

This diet involves eating very few carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood. For some reason, the diet dramatically reduces the rate of seizures in epileptic children. Yes! Of course, even those who haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.

8. Microorganisms Killer Agent

When lauric acid is digested, it also forms a substance called monolaurin. In that case, the 12-carbon lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

For example, these substances have been shown to help kill the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (a very dangerous pathogen) and the yeast Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.

9. Increase Our Body Metabolism

Controlled studies have shown that MCTs can significantly boost your metabolic rate — at least temporarily. Coconut Oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are fatty acids that are quickly absorbed increasing the rate at which you burn calories.

One study found that 15–30 grams of MCTs increased the number of calories burned by an average of 120 over a 24-hour period. Oils such as corn and safflower are converted into toxic compounds when heated. These may have harmful effects, especially on the general body metabolism health.

10. It Improves Wound Healing 

One study found that the rat’s wounds treated with coconut oil had reduced inflammatory markers. And increased the production of collagen, a major component of skin. As a result, their wounds healed much faster.

To speed healing of minor cuts or scrapes, apply a little bit of coconut oil directly to the wound and cover it with a bandage. Not to mention, research shows that coconut oil improves dermatitis and other skin disorders at least as well as mineral oil and other conventional moisturizers.

Benefits of Coconut Oil
Does Coconut Oil live up to its Hype? – (jmexclusives)

Does Coconut oil live Up to its Hype?

Clearly, it can live up to the hype, as can be seen, especially, from the above list of benefits. Below are more examples of why you should consider using it. In the end, proving that it has numerous benefits to our general health & fitness.

As Anti Repellant Carrier:

Some essential oils may be a natural way to keep bugs away and avoid bites and stings. However, rather than applying these oils directly to your skin, they need to be combined with a carrier oil.

In one study, combining Thai essential oils with coconut oil provided over 98% protection from the bites of certain mosquitoes.

In Yeast Infection Fight:

Candida albicans is the fungus responsible for yeast infections, which commonly occur in warm, moist areas of the body, such as the mouth or vagina.

Test-tube studies suggest that coconut oil may help fight candida infections. Researchers found coconut oil to be as effective as fluconazole, the antifungal medication typically prescribed for candida infections.

As A Stains Remover:

Coconut oil can be used to get rid of stains, including spills on carpets and furniture.

Combine one part of coconut oil with one part baking soda and mix it into a paste. Apply to the stain, wait five minutes, and wipe away.

Chemical Free Deodorant:

While sweat itself has no smell, the bacteria living on your skin can produce undesirable odors. Coconut oil’s strong antibacterial properties make it a great natural deodorant that contains no chemicals.

You can find many and easy deodorant recipes made with its oil and other natural ingredients online.

For Reducing Inflammations:

Several animal studies show that eating it provides strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Human studies suggest that eating coconut oil may reduce markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, especially when compared to highly unsaturated oils. However, more research is needed.

While Used In Bone Health:

Animal research suggests that the antioxidants in its virgin oil may protect bone health by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage bone cells.

A six-week study of rats showed that the group receiving 8% of their calories from coconut oil had significantly more bone volume and improved bone structure.

Food Ingredients Recipe Addon:

On one hand, commercialized Mayonnaise often contains soybean oil and added sugar. However, it’s easy to make your own mayo with coconut oil or olive oil. The second recipe on this list uses coconut oil as one of the fats for a healthy homemade mayonnaise.

On the other hand, homemade dark chocolate is a delicious way to get coconut oil’s health benefits. Just remember to store it in the refrigerator or freezer, since coconut oil melts at 76°F (24°C). It’s easy to find a recipe online and get started. To keep things healthy, look for sugar-free ideas.

Takeaway,

While some research has linked the main type of saturated fatty acid in coconut oil, lauric acid, to increased levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol, it still appears to raise LDL cholesterol. Yet, coconut oil may be a better choice than some other sources of saturated fat.

A large, recent study found that lauric acid didn’t appear to raise heart disease risk quite as much as other types of saturated fatty acids. Such as palmitic acid, which is substantial in butter. Proponents of coconut oil point out that it is rich in phytochemicals that have healthful antioxidant properties.

But, even if the Coconut Oil you are using is extra-virgin, “the saturated fat effects outweigh any beneficial effects of the antioxidants,” he said. But of course, we don’t eat fats or cholesterol or antioxidants — we eat food.

So, while it certainly isn’t the magic bullet some claim, there’s no need to avoid it completely. Especially, if used instead of butter or shortening in baked goods. Or to impart flavor in something like a curry dish. Basically, as a general rule, though, cooking with olive oil is the better choice for overall health.

Resourceful References;

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