According to recent reports, coconut oil seems to be the latest food cure-all. To gain the most health benefits, coconut oil should be purchased in the unrefined form. Refined coconut oils can be treated with various chemicals and processed with very high heat. Generally, the more heat that is applied, the more the nutritional benefits and quality are reduced. Here are some benefits/uses of coconut oil.
- Good for your skin: Coconut oil can be used as a natural moisturizer to keep connective tissue strong and reduce wrinkles and sagging. It can also improve or heal many skin diseases including fungal infections, acne, eczema, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis, and rosacea.
- Good for your hair: The antimicrobial properties in coconut oil can protect the scalp against infections that cause lice, itching and dandruff. Vitamins E and K can help condition, strengthen, and nourish hair, boosting its health while keeping it shiny and radiant.
- Improves Dental Health: Oil pulling, or swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth like mouthwash, can have serious benefits for oral hygiene. It is claimed to whiten teeth, freshen breath, kill bacteria, and prevent tooth decay. It is recommended to start with 5 minutes a day, however, the longer you pull, the more bacteria you’ll remove. Once you’re done, don’t spit the oil down the sink, for it will clog your pipes. Instead, dispose of oil into the nearest trash can.
- Improves Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Coconut oil helps regulate blood sugar by slowing the digestion process and lowering the overall glycemic index of a meal. Since the main components of coconut oil, medium chain fatty acids, are smaller and lighter than glucose, they can get into cells without the need of insulin. When carbohydrates are consumed with coconut oil, they are broken down into glucose more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more steady after you eat and keeping you full longer.
- Lowers cholesterol: Coconut oil is composed primarily of saturated fats. Typically, saturated fat has negative effects on cholesterol, however, the form of saturated fat in coconut oil is different than the form found in animal fats which we are used to. Lauric acid, the primary form of saturated fat in coconut oil, increases HDL, which is the good cholesterol that helps remove the bad forms of cholesterol from your body. The antioxidants and polyphenols in coconut oil contribute to the reduction of LDL and VLDL, the bad forms of cholesterol, and also help lower total cholesterol.
- Promotes weight loss: Since coconut oil is composed mainly of medium chain fatty acids, which are transported directly from the digestive tract to the liver, it can be used as a quick and sustained source of energy. Regular intake of medium chain fatty acids has displayed a 5% increase in total energy expenditure over 24 hours. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil also have an appetite reducing effect, preserve muscle mass, increase metabolism, and stimulate longer endurance.
- Improves digestion: The primary fats in coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides, are super easy to digest. Since they are immediately sent to your liver, where they are used to produce energy, your body has significantly less work to do. Coconut oil is a good fat source for people who can’t tolerate other types of fat and can be beneficial for people with digestive issues such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer’s.
- Helps fight off infections: The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil possess incredible antimicrobial properties. They display potential antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiprotozoal action. Because of these components, coconut oil is capable of killing some of the deadliest pathogens and can accelerate healing of fungal infections.
- Improves or Reverses Alzheimer’s Disease: Because medium chain triglycerides are metabolized quickly in the liver, they can be turned into ketone bodies, which have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. Ketone bodies can supply an alternate energy source for the brain and relieve symptoms. For some people, coconut oil has proven to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and may have even prevented it.