Coconut oil has risen to become one of the world’s most revolutionary health products, with a particular admiration from those in the fitness industry.
Favoured as a product with phenomenal health benefits, it may confuse you to hear that more than ninety percent of coconut oil is made of saturated fats with very small amounts of mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids…
However, the saturated fats aren’t the same as what you might find in cheese, chocolate and crisps. In fact, the fats found in coconut oil have been hugely linked to weight loss and fat burn, in addition to an array of other health-enhancing benefits!
The specific fatty acids are medium chain triglycerides, MCT’s with chemically unique properties – meaning, when consumed, the way that they are metabolised in the body results in numerous health benefits!
So, what exactly makes coconut oil so beneficial for health-conscious individuals?…
How Does Coconut Oil Benefit the body?
In coconut oil the main MCT is Lauric acid, which contributes to over 50% of coconut oils composition.
In the body lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, which can be beneficial to the body in a number of different ways.
For example, monolaurin is known to have a series of disease fighting and anti fungal properties and is actually substance that is formed in infants from breast milk.
Monolaurin is the chemical that prevents babies from getting viral or bacterial infections.
The exact mechanism of coconut oil and lauric acid in the body is still under scientific investigation, nevertheless it benefits have been recorded in tons of scientific studies.
Coconut Oil Health Benefits
Over the past few decades, coconut oil has accumulated a list of benefits.
It’s unique composition has been linked to:
1) Coconut oil and Weight Loss
BURN FAT WITH FAT!
BURN FAT WITH FAT!
Many people fail to see the link between unsaturated fats and weight loss – after all how can you lose fat by eating more fat right?
Well, actually consuming the fatty acids found in coconut oil has been shown in numerous studies to aid fat loss.
For example, Portillo et al (1998) investigated the effects of overfeeding rats on a high fat diet with enriched in coconut oil, and the influence of coconut oil on food and energy restriction.
In the experiment rats were subject to a diet enriched with coconut oil or without for a period of 7 weeks.
It was found that some fat tissue depots were more strongly reduced in the rats fed the high-fat diet enriched in coconut oil than in the rats fed the normal-fat diet, concluding that coconut-oil enriched diet is effective for decreases white fat stores.
2) Heart disease and Cholesterol Levels
Cardio vascular disease is the worlds number one killer with aspects such as cholesterol levels, being major risk factors leading to the disease development.
Coconut oil has been shown in several different scientific studies to contribute to cholesterol level reductions and maintenance, which may suggest it could become a possible treatment and prevention for CVD.
For example, a study by Nevin et al (2004) investigated the consumption of virgin coconut oil on various lipid parameters in the body.
To do this they followed rats over a period of 45 days of oil feeding.
After this time period, it was found that coconut oil had a beneficial effect in lowering lipid components and also reducing total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels, whilst increasing good HDL cholesterol levels.
Overall, this study demonstrated the potential beneficiary effect of virgin coconut oil on lowering lipid levels in serum and tissues and LDL oxidation- which could act as a beneficial mechanism towards preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease.
3) Coconut oil and Cancer
Coconut oil has also been linked in some studies to help prevent cancer- however these studies are still fully under investigation.
In a study by Reddy et al (1984) it was found consuming coconut oil contributed to lowering the development of adenocarcinomas (tumors) whereby overall coconut oil was inversely related to the development of tumours.
4) Immunity, Healing and Infections
These characteristics of coconut oil have been present in a ton of studies including early studies such as one by Kabara (1978).
This study reported that MCT’s found in coconut oil can have adverse effects on various microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses.
Not only this, but in one study by Pablo et al (1998) the effect of diets containing olive oil, sunflower oil or hydrogenated coconut oil on immune cell function was investigated.
In this experiment three groups of mice were fed three different diets containing 15% olive, sunflower or coconut oil.
At the end of the study it was revealed that unsaturated fatty acids may be used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases due to their immunomodulatory properties.
The results obtained highlighted that fatty acids found in coconut oil may play an important role as a modulatory agent of immune cell function.
The internal benefits of coconut oil don’t just stop at benefiting your health!
Because of coconuts oil antimicrobial properties and the fact it can provide a good source of antioxidants and vitamins, it may also help aid and regulate digestion!
Coconut oil is commonly used as a cooking oil which may help prevent issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
6) Skin and Hair Care
Okay so this benefit probably isn’t the most important, but in addition to all its health benefits coconut oil can also help improve skin and hair condition.
As a result, it is widely used for vanity and cosmetic purposes due to its high lipid content which can help moisturise and protect the skin and hair from UV radiation.
Coconut Oil Uses
Coconut oil has a series of different uses due to its many benefits but mainly coconut oil is used in cooking.
Unlike other oils such as vegetable oils, coconut oil is actually solid at room temperature with a melting point of around 25 degrees.
Generally coconut oil can be used in various different recipes both sweet and savoury to replace common cooking oils.
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Consume?
When it comes to coconut oil and lauric acid it is still unknown how much is required in order to receive all of coconut oils benefits.
For infants, from breast milk, they generally consume between 0.3 and 1 gram per kilogram of body weight, whereby this amount appears to have always been protective – therefore adults could probably benefit from the consumption of 10 to 20 grams of lauric acid per day.
A Take Home Message
Hopefully this article has answered all your questions about coconut oil – and if not feel free to comment and we’ll get back to you!
Overall it’s important not to now go away and go coconut oil crazy.
Scientific studies are a start but they only leave us with associations – not facts.
Therefore, it is best to consume a balanced diet with all the right macro and micro nutrients, whilst enjoying health-enhancing, delicious foods!