10 Proven Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
With its high saturated fat content, coconut oil was often labelled as unhealthy in years past.
However, researchers have discovered just how special coconut oil is, as its saturated fat content is in a unique form, which is rarely found in foods. In addition, this tasty lipid has other positive effects for your vitality – making it a worthwhile addition to your diet on a regular basis.
To help you discover what it can do for you, let’s explore 10 proven health benefits of coconut oil in more depth below.
Benefit #1: It Fights Bacteria.
Lauric acid accounts for roughly half of the fatty acids found in coconut oil, and it has some amazing health properties. Among them are its potent anti-bacterial action, and eating coconut oil regularly can provide anti-bacterial help for your body.
Your system can convert lauric acid into monolaurin, which research has shown is effective against bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (most commonly known as staph) and H. pylori (which you my recognize as being responsible for causing ulcers) (1).
Benefit #2: It Combats Fungus.
Lauric acid has potent anti-fungal properties too, and if you want to keep these harmful organisms in check, just ingest some coconut oil. This delicious food is one of the most potent sources of lauric acid on earth, the only other with comparable levels being human breast milk – which isn’t something you’ll likely be adding to your menu (2). Studies have proven that lauric acid is effective against the yeast Candida Albicans (3), and the idea that an overgrowth of yeast can significantly hamper your health is a popular one today.
Benefit #3: It Battles Viruses.
Finally, lauric acid can combat viruses too, and since these can make you sick and diminish your health, coconut oil can be a tool in your arsenal to keep your body running at optimum efficiency.
Benefit #4: People Who Eat It Are Healthier.
While this may sound like a generalization, studies on populations in the tropics who eat a great deal of coconut oil, have drawn exciting conclusions. One such study looked at two distinct Polynesian populations, the Pukapukans and the Tokelauans, who both received a great deal of their daily calories from coconuts. What did researchers find?
Even though they regularly consumed a large amount of saturated fat (found in coconut oil), these people had nearly no cardiovascular disease (4)! While other factors like regular exercise could also impact these results, the unique form of saturated fat in coconut oil, does not appear to be a risk to your heart (in fact, it may help it).
Benefit #5: Improved Digestion.
Whether you are just looking to improve your digestion, or need help due to problems like irritable bowel syndrome, the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of coconut oil can help (5).
Benefit #6: Weight Loss.
The idea that eating more fat can lead to losing weight sounds counter-intuitive, but your body actually needs lipids to function correctly. The type of fat that you eat is extremely important, and coconut oil can help keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied after meals. Also, since coconut oil contains Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA’s), it can help you to burn more fat as well. How does this work?
When compared to the Long Chain Fatty Acids found in most saturated fats, MCFA’s ramp up your fat oxidation up to three times more effectively (6). Your liver is able to process this type of fat quickly, which may help you to lose weight. Interestingly, farmers in the 1940’s stumbled across this fact accidentally, when they fed cheap coconut oil to their livestock – in an attempt to fatten them up for market. To their chagrin, the animals actually began losing weight (7)!
Benefit #7: More Stable Blood Sugar.
You likely already know how damaging high blood sugar can be, and that fluctuating from high to low has a negative effect on your energy levels. Coconut oil can help to stabilize these swings, as it slows down the digestion of carbohydrates into glucose when eaten with a meal. This can banish the familiar sugar cravings you get if your blood glucose dips, which may also help you to maintain a healthy weight more easily (8).
Benefit #8: Combat Insulin Resistance.
The MCFA’s in coconut oil have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetics (9), which is important. Since insulin resistance forces your body to produce more and more of this hormone, yet these higher levels have less and less effect, your ability to regulate your blood sugar is diminished. Increasing sensitivity to insulin once again, is profoundly helpful in managing this disease – making coconut oil a smart addition to your diet if you suffer from this condition.
Benefit #9: Reduce Belly Fat.
While losing weight is good, reducing the fat around your midsection is even better. Why? Not only do people want a trim belly, but abdominal fat is closely linked to a variety of negative health issues. Fortunately, just adding coconut oil to your diet can help you slim down your waist.
One study had 40 women take one ounce of coconut oil each day, with another group eating an ounce of soybean oil instead. Both groups also followed a sensible diet and walked for 50 minutes each day, but it was the coconut oil group that saw good results. These women saw a meaningful reduction in both their waist measurements and their Body Mass Index in just 12 weeks time (10).
Benefit #10: Improved Cholesterol Numbers.
That same study found an interesting second result – the women taking coconut oil had improved blood lipid levels. When compared to the other group of women in the study who took soybean oil daily instead, those who ate coconut oil had lower total cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and higher good cholesterol (HDL) (11).