Last Updated June 13th, 2021
Coconut oil: Facts unveiled and the myths busted
Coconut oil is an edible oil obtained from the coconut kernels. It contains huge amounts of saturated fat (90%). Oils high in saturated fats have been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. The fact is, the saturated fat in coconut oil is mainly of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are healthy. However, recent investigations have proven that it aids in weight loss.
The largest producer of coconut oil is the Philippines followed by Indonesia and India. This oil is very good for fried food because of its high smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which smoke begins to appear in oil in the presence of high heat. Higher the temperature for smoking, better it is to be used for deep frying.
Coconut oil is also used in shampoos, smoothies, in sweets and even in coffee. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are digested in a different way than regular These fats promote satiety.
Why is coconut oil good for you?
The saturated fat content makes you wonder about what good will this oil contribute in terms of good health. Below is a detailed description of the unexpecting health benefits of coconut oil.
How do the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) help the body?
MCT metabolism is a good fat burning strategy. MCT metabolism results in the production of 2 major fullness hormones (leptin and peptide YY). These triglycerides are absorbed faster than the long chain triglycerides. MCTs promote fat burning during exercise and also reduce the levels of lactate in muscle cells. This reduces muscle cramps and promotes muscle recovery. MCTs are also known to prevent the accumulation of fat. This is very useful for those who are obese and also have type 2 diabetes.
Lauric acid in coconut oil for hair and combating bacteria
50% fatty acid of coconut oil is composed of lauric acid. This compound helps in maintaining smooth and shiny hair. Digestion of lauric acid yields monolaurin. This has anti-bacterial characteristics. Monolaurin disintegrates the cell membrane of the bacteria and terminates the molecular machinery in bacterial cells and thus quiet useful in oil pulling. Oil pulling is rinsing mouth with oil. Using coconut oil for this purpose helps in washing off any bacteria adhering to the oral cavity. Coconut oil is also effectively used to treat rashes, burns, and other skin conditions.
Weight loss and belly fat reduction
These MCTs promote fat burning. The metabolic rate increases because of the thermogenic (heat) property. About 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil on a daily basis boosts the fat-burning. In addition to this, reduced appetite as a resultant is suitable for weight loss. You can’t just rely on coconut oil for weight loss. You also need to include vegetables, fruits, etc as a part of your diet if you are looking for a substantial weight loss.
Coconut oil may help in treating epilepsy
Coconut oil fatty acids are readily transported to the liver and are converted into ketones. This urges the nerve cells of the brain to utilize these ketones instead of glucose. The utilization of ketones results in the production of decanoic acid. This soothes the abrupt nerve impulse conduction seen in epilepsy. This oil is very useful in children having West syndrome (a condition of epileptic cramps seen in infants or childhood), etc.
Discuss with a dietician and a medical profession to formulate a ketogenic diet plan to treat such conditions in children.
Reduces inflammation and promotes wound healing
Coconut oil is an age-old remedy for inflammation. There is a protein called the C reactive protein (CRP) which is involved in an inflammatory response. This protein helps in boosting the immune system. High levels of this protein can also be a sign of inflammation in the heart vessels. This can make you more prone to a heart attack.
A study was done with the objective of using coconut oil for wounds. The resultant was a decrease in the inflammatory markers and also a good enhancement in collagen production enabling wounds to heal faster. You can apply a small amount of coconut oil on some small cuts or scratches in the skin and cover the area with a bandage.
Virgin coconut oil is extracted without much processing so, the polyphenolic content isn’t lost. Polyphenols in the coconut oil such as quercetin, gallic acid, ferulic acid, myricetin glycoside, etc., are antioxidants.
Coconut oil to alleviate arthritis pain
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and every one in 3 adults of the ages 18 – 64 are affected by this condition. The antioxidant nature of the coconut oil is known to bring down the inflammation and reduces pain in due course of time. Applying coconut oil (not massaging) can help in coming up with arthritis. Osteoporosis can be due to calcium deficiency, bone cell resorption, etc. Damaged bone cells can also occur by oxidative damage. The antioxidant nature of coconut oil protects the bone cells from damage and prevents the reduction in bone
Coconut oil for your skin
Coconut oil is zero in vitamins and minerals but it has also been used for treating skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne, injuries, etc. Patients with atopic dermatitis were included in a study where coconut oil was used to treat the affected skin. About 46% of them showed a good response and 47% showed a moderately good response in the skin condition. You can use coconut oil as a natural moisturizer on your arms, legs, elbows, etc. Those who have an oily or a combination type of skin must refrain from applying it to their face.
- It can also be used as a very good lubricant for sexual purposes as well.
- Coconut oil is also an effective remedy for cracked heels. Before sleeping at night, apply coconut oil over the cracked heel area, wear socks and then go to bed. Continue with this regime till your heels smoothen out.
- There are reports suggesting that coconut oil shields your skin from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. Some reports also show that it absorbs about 20% of the sun’s UV rays without harming the skin.
- Researchers determine the sun protection factor (SPF) of coconut oil to be about 7 approximately.
The final takeaway
Coconut oil is known for its wondrous benefits since ancient times. The use of coconut oil for cooking is greatly done in India & Philippines. It adds a unique flavor. Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, antioxidants and lauric acid. This helps in treating arthritis, terminating bacteria, epilepsy, wound healing, skin irritation, and also provides hydration to your skin. Apart from the health benefits, it also has a unique aroma when added to foods. You can consume coconut oil only in moderation.
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