14 must-know health benefits of coconut oil (Infographic)

For years now, coconut oil has been branded as one of the worst oils to consume. As a result, many people have switched to refined oils that have flooded the market. Well, this bad guy is ready to make a comeback. Recent research is clearing up several misconceptions about coconut oil and is in fact indicating that it might in fact be a good guy with a bad name.

photo credit: Dầu dừa via photopin (license)
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Almost 50% of the fat in coconut oil comprises of lauric acid, which is known to help in weight loss and lowering cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is rich in Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in contrast to other common vegetable oils which are rich in Large-chain triglycerides (LCTs). While LCTs are difficult for the body to digest and are stored as fats in the body, MCTs are easy to digest and used by the body to produce energy. Thus, MCTs actually boost metabolism and help the body to burn fat and hence help you to become leaner. Besides weight loss, boosting your metabolic rate improves your overall immune function. Several studies have now shown that MCTs can enhance physical or athletic performance. Due to its ability to help optimize body weight, coconut oil can dramatically reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
photo credit: Dầu dừa via photopin (license)

To simplify all that medical jargon, coconut oil is actually good for you and provides a number of health benefits.

CAUTION: If you wish to use coconut oil for therapeutic purposes, it is advisable to first consult your doctor and do your own extensive research.

Some of the major health benefits of coconut oil are: 

1. Treatment of HIV

Recent research shows that coconut oil is instrumental in reducing the viral load of HIV patients. This is because the Lauric acid in coconut oil is metabolized in the body to monolaurin which is an anti-viral agent. (6)

2. Cancer treatment 

A lot of research indicates that coconut oil may also play a significant role in preventing and treating cancer. Ketogenic cleanses are being proposed as a means of starving cancer cells and coconut oil is the ideal fuel source for this cleanse. Learn more about the ketogenic cleanse

3. Maintaining Cholesterol levels 

Natural, non-hydrogenated coconut oil increases HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart disease. As a result, it helps improve the cholesterol levels in your body thereby decreasing risk of heart disease. 

4. Coconut Oil prevents heart diseases

Evidently, the idea that coconut oil is bad for the heart is  a misconception. Coconut oil was considered bad for the heart due to the large amount of saturated fats that it contains. But the truth is that almost 50% of the fat in coconut oil comprises of lauric acid, which is known to help in weight loss and lowering cholesterol levels. 

5. Helps in weight loss 

Coconut oil is rich in Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which boost metabolism and help your body to burn fat and hence help you to become leaner. This is probably why people living in tropical coastal areas are not normally obese or overweight. To try coconut oil for weight loss start by adding one teaspoon to your diet and gradually work your way up to four teaspoons per day. 

6. Improves immunity

Besides weight loss, boosting your metabolic rate improves your overall immune function. Hence coconut oil helps improve your immunity. In addition, coconut oil contains compounds which are known to have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties and research has found it to be an effective against diseases like herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV.

7. Regulates blood pressure 

Recent studies have found that regular exercise in conjunction with consumption of coconut oil can help maintain normal blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure is possibly due to the reduction of vascular oxidative stress, which is a key factor in regulating blood pressure. 

8. Helps prevent Diabetes

Recent studies have found that, due to its ability to help optimize body weight, coconut oil can dramatically reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It helps in controlling blood sugar and improves glucose secretion. It also promotes effective utilization of glucose. 

9. Helps treat Depression

Depression is often a symptom of thyroid related issues. Coconut oil, helps regulate thyroid and my therefore relieve some symptoms of depression. 

10. Can cure Kidney problems 

There have also been claims that coconut oil helps treat urinary tract infections. In addition, according to this article at http://bembu.com/coconut-oil-benefits, taking coconut oil everyday can help break down kidney stones and make it easy to pass them through the urine. 

11. Aids in digestion

If you suffer from digestive problems, try adding coconut oil to your diet. Coconut oil has been found to improve digestion and hence prevent various stomach and digestive problems including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Due to the antimicrobial property of the saturated fats in coconut oil, it helps in eliminating the bacteria or parasites that cause poor digestion and stomach troubles. In addition, coconut oil helps in the absorption of important vitamins, minerals and amino acids. 

12. Helps to improve dental quality and bone strength

Coconut oil  improves your body’s ability to absorb important minerals. These include Calcium and Magnesium which are important for development of bones and teeth. Thus, it helps improve dental quality and bone strength and is helpful to fight osteoporosis. In addition, coconut oil is also said to stop tooth decay. 

13. Hair care and skin care 

Coconut oil helps make the skin soft and smooth and also prevents premature aging and wrinkles. It promotes hair growth, reduces hair loss and makes it lustrous and prevents premature graying. Regularly massaging coconut oil into the scalp can even help combat dandruff. I remember reading an article in the newspaper where a famous Hollywood actress mentioned daily consumption of raw coconut oil as her secret to a flawless skin.

14. Alzheimer’s disease

There have also been claims that coconut oil is useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is no scientific data to support these claims. 

Many Goan households have long lived on coconut oil , often extracted from coconuts from their own properties. But, with changing trends and with coconut oil being branded as bad, many have turned to commercially available vegetable oils. Maybe it’s time we shifted back to what nature has blessed us with!

Have you experienced any health benefits by using coconut oil? We would love to hear about them in the comments.

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In addition to these health benefits, coconut oil also has several uses in the field of beauty and around the household as well. Check them all out in this very informative article on the uses of coconut oil


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