Coconut oil is one such ingredient that is commonly found in most households. Some people use it for cooking; some use it as a skin moisturizer, while others use it to deeply condition their hair. There are so many uses of coconut oil. But apart from these usual uses, there is a lot of other benefits of coconut oil. Make sure your take high quality coconut oil, preferably virgin coconut oil to get maximum benefits.
Coconut Oil is full of healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids. (MCFAs). These fats include the following –
- Capric Acid
- Lauric Acid
- Caprylic Acid
Around 62% of the oils in coconut are made of these three healthy fats, and 91% of the fat is healthy saturated fat. The benefits of MCFAs are –
- Easy to digest
- Not readily stored as fats
- Known for anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties
- Processed by the liver, thus, immediately converted energy instead of being stored as fats
Coconut Oil Benefits
These are the 7 coconut oil benefits your must know about.
- Prevents Heart Diseases and High Blood Pressure
Coconut oil is rich in healthy saturated fats. These fats increase healthy cholesterol (HDL) and also help convert bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. By promoting HDL in the body, coconut oil promotes heart health and prevents the risk of high blood pressure as well.
- Helps Burn Fat
Be it fat burning or weight loss, people today are looking for different effective ways of weight management. Different foods affect the body in different ways. There are various weight loss supplements available online that, coupled with regular exercise routines and a healthy diet, can aid in effective weight management. Apart from weight loss supplements, there are healthy oils like coconut oil that can prove effective too.
The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil result in increased energy expenditure as compared to long chain fatty acids. This means that with MCFAs the body can easily convert fat into energy to be used in various bodily functions. This helps lose weight and also speeds up metabolism.
It is also effective in helping you lose stubborn belly fat. In a study performed on 40 women, supplementing 30ml coconut oil per day lead to significant decrease in their BMI and waist circumference over a period of 12 weeks.
- Kills Harmful Microorganisms
One of the major compound of coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid is known to reduce candida, fight bacteria, and create a hostile environment for virus to grow. A lot of infections and diseases like stomach ulcers, food poisoning, and dental cavities, are caused due to bacterial and fungal growth, and using coconut oil can prevent these. Once these microbes are out of the system, your immunity gets a boost.
- Increases Metabolism
Long chain fatty acids linger in the system for prolonged period of time, while medium chain fatty acids are sent directly to the liver from the digestive tract. In the liver they are either immediately utilized as energy or get transformed into ketone bodies. It is also seen that MCFAs speed up metabolism to burn more fat/ calories.
- Boosts Brain Function in Alzheimer’s Patients
The digestion of MCFAs by the liver creates ketones, which are readily accessible energy by the brain. Ketones also supply energy to the brain without the need of insulin to process glucose into energy. The abundance of ketones also helps in reducing seizures.
These ketones can also provide an alternative energy source for the malfunctioning brain cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Various studies have shown that MCFAs have cause improvement in brain functions of Alzheimer’s patients.
- May Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
Oil pulling is an age long way to prevent gum disease, bleeding gums, and tooth decay. Coconut oil is known to cleanse your mouth and prevent periodontal diseases. It works best due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Swishing coconut oil in your mouth will kill the bacteria sticking around. It also reduces plaque formation. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, dentists recommend to do oil pulling thrice a week for 15 minutes each day. Talk to your dentist about using coconut oil to prevent dental diseases.
- Beneficial for Hair and Skin
Coconut oil works wonders for your skin and hair. You can use it to moisturize your skin, deeply condition your hair, and even as a natural sunscreen. The caprylic and lauric acids in coconut oil help reduce internal and external inflammation. Due to its hydrating properties it is used as a skin moisturizer. If you have dry skin them massaging your skin with coconut oil will be beneficial. It increases lipid levels on the surface of the skin and enhance skin hydration.
Coconut oil is also widely used as a natural remedy for dandruff. It moisturizes your scalp and keeps itching, dryness, and flakiness away. You can also deeply nourish your hair with a hot oil massage.
Side Effects of Coconut Oil
Like we always say, having excess of any ingredient can have side effects on your body. Although coconut oil works wonderfully for your health, skin, and hair, it may have some side effects in certain situations. Let’s find out what they can be.
Many people consumer coconut oil orally. It helps fight bacterial infections. But it can lead to short term side effects, most common being diarrhea. To avoid diarrhea, start consuming coconut oil in small amounts and gradually increase the dosage.
- Intestinal Distress
People who have fructose malabsorption are most susceptible to it. Fructose malabsorption is when you have trouble digesting fructose. It can lead to digestive problems and intestinal distress. Although coconut oil does not have fructose, but all other products that are made from it do contain it and can cause harm. Talk to your doctor about finding the right alternative to coconut oil and avoid gastro problems.
If one is allergic to coconut, coconut oil can cause allergies. Some of the common allergic reactions include – rashes, nausea, vomiting, eczema, hives etc. If you get any of these reactions after consuming foods like chocolates, cookies, and cakes, it can be due to the coconut oil present in them.
Keep a track of your food and try eliminate particular food items to see if it makes any difference. Once you know what is triggering the allergic reactions, stop eating that food completely.
- Acne and Breakouts
If you are someone who has oily and acne prone skin, then consuming coconut oil can lead to acne and breakouts. Although the lauric acid in coconut oil usually helps in killing bacteria causing germs, but not for people with excessively oily skin.
- Slight Harm to the Heart
As per American Heart Association, eating fewer saturated fats and more of unsaturated fats is the best way to prevent heart disease. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats and may cause harm to the heart. Finding healthier alternatives to coconut oil is the best option.
You can take coconut oil supplements, but make sure to consult your doctor before including them in your daily diet. The dosage of the supplement should be monitored. Exceeding the required dosage may upset your stomach. The same holds true for coconut oil as well. Take it in moderate & recommended amounts to gain effective benefits.