David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.
Why Coconut Oil Is Good For You
Coconut oil is one of the most powerful healing and health-promoting foods there is. It’s a real superfood in every sense of the word. But just what is it that makes coconut oil so special? And what are the specific health benefits you can expect to experience from using it on a regular basis? In this article, I’ll answer those questions, and I’ll give you nine really great reasons why you should consider using it every day.
What’s So Special About Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat. That might not sound too good, but the fats in coconut oil are of a very specific type that you don’t find very much anywhere else. They are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which means they are composed of fatty acid chains of a medium length. The fats in most foods (both animal and vegetable) are composed of long chain fatty acids, but medium chain fatty acids are metabolized in a different way than long chain fatty acids and produce a very different effect in the body. They also contain additional properties that other fats don’t, which enhances their health benefits still further.
The MCTs in coconut oil include lauric acid (which is also found in human breast milk), capric acid, caprylic acid, and myristic acid, and some of the benefits you can expect to experience from using it on a daily basis include the following:
1. Coconut Oil Helps Protect You From Infectious Diseases
MCTs have potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Lauric acid (and its breakdown product monolaurin) in particular, has been shown to be highly effective in dealing with lipid-coated viruses such as herpes, influenza, and HIV. The way this works is that the fatty acids penetrate and disrupt the fatty outside layer of these viruses, which leads to their destruction.
MCTs are also very helpful in fighting certain bacterial infections, such as Staph aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Helicobacter pylori (the organism that causes stomach ulcers). And they are very effective against yeasts, such as Candida albicans, and harmful protozoa, such as Giardia lamblia, as well.
So by using coconut oil each day, you can protect yourself from a wide range of infectious diseases, and help to rid yourself of them if you already suffer from any of them.
2. Coconut Oil Is Great for Your Cardiovascular Health
Coconut oil is very beneficial to your heart and circulatory system. It has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol, but it can reduce total and LDL cholesterol in people with raised cholesterol levels. It also reduces triglycerides, improves blood coagulation factors (which helps prevent blood clots from forming), is anti-inflammatory, and it helps protect your blood vessel walls from damage too.
So if you use coconut oil on a regular basis, you will have a significantly reduced risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke.
3. Coconut Oil Gives You More Energy
The MCTs in coconut oil are much more readily converted to energy than longer chain fatty acids. And because coconut oil is digested very quickly, you’ll feel the effect almost immediately. It’s not a quick burst of energy though; it’s more subtle and long-lasting. So if you take a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning, you’ll have much more energy for the rest of the day.
In fact, coconut oil is often used by athletes and sportspeople, due to the fact that it improves endurance, as well as helps to enhance athletic performance.
4. Coconut Oil Helps With Weight Loss
Because the MCTs in coconut oil are more readily converted to energy than other types of fat, they are less likely to be stored as body fat. Instead, you’ll find you’ll tend to be more active when you use coconut oil, so you’ll simply burn off the extra calories.
Coconut oil speeds up the metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories even when you’re resting. It also tends to reduce appetite. So if you have a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning, you’ll find you won’t want to eat as much for lunch. And it promotes the healthy function of the thyroid gland too. So by taking coconut oil on a regular basis, you’ll actually find it easier to lose weight.
5. Coconut Oil Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise, but coconut oil can help prevent this crippling condition, and it may even reverse it to a large extent. It’s also a potential treatment for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and multiple sclerosis too.
In Alzheimer’s, certain parts of the brain display a reduced ability to use glucose for energy. But when MCTs are metabolized they produce ketones, which the brain can use as an alternative source of energy. And studies have shown that consumption of MCTs do indeed reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other similar conditions.
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6. Coconut Oil Improves Digestion
Coconut oil helps to kill off a lot of the bad bacteria and yeasts in your intestinal tract that can cause all manner of digestive system disorders, as well as many other health complications. Yet it helps the good bacteria to flourish and grow. It also improves the absorption of certain nutrients.
So by using coconut oil regularly, you’ll have a healthier intestinal tract, improved digestion, and better elimination as well.
7. Coconut Oil Helps Protect You Against Diabetes
Although coconut oil is a great source of energy, it does not cause your insulin levels to spike like carbohydrates do. And this of course means you won’t get the crash either. Coconut oil has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, so it will help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as help you to manage the condition if you already have it (alongside other dietary and lifestyle measures of course).
8. Coconut Oil Is Great for Your Skin and Hair
You can use coconut oil externally too. When applied to the skin it makes an excellent moisturizer, helping to keep your skin soft and supple, as well as relieving dryness and flaking and delaying the appearance of wrinkles. It also helps clear up skin infections, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It offers protection against sun damage, and it makes a great massage oil too, due to its healing and non-staining properties.
Coconut oil also makes a wonderful hair and scalp conditioner, promoting shiny, lustrous hair, as well as helping to repair damaged hair and relieve dandruff.
9. Coconut Oil Is Excellent for Cooking
Coconut oil is by far the best oil to use for cooking, as it is not oxidized at high temperatures, so it does not produce toxic by-products when heated as most other oils do.
Part of the reason for this is that coconut oil has a high melting point of 25C. This, of course, means that it is solid at normal room temperature, so if you need it to be liquid (e.g., when using it on your skin or hair) just warm it up a little by immersing the container in warm water before using it.
And one final point – it’s essential to choose a good brand of organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil if you want to get the best results. Refined coconut oil will have lost most of its beneficial properties, and it may also contain trans fats, so it could actually do more harm than good.
So there are your 9 reasons to use coconut oil every day. I find the best way is to simply dissolve a tablespoon (half an ounce) of it into a mug of warm coffee or herbal tea. Do this once per day for general health purposes, but if you are looking to overcome a specific health problem, you’ll need to take this amount 2 – 4 times per day. Just don’t take it too late in the day, as you may find the extra energy it provides will make it difficult to sleep.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
David (author) from Birmingham, UK on October 21, 2016:
Glad you found that useful Janellegems.
Janellegems on October 20, 2016:
Great informative Hub on the benefits of coconut oil. I did not know these things. I will try to use it more often.