Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm tree which has sweet, white, edible flesh that is widely popular is various Indian delicacies. Both coconut flesh and coconut oil are healthy super foods that are extremely popular in health circles. Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the flesh of the fruit and pure virgin coconut oil is the oil that contains almost 92% saturated fat and undergoes no hydrogenation. Although saturated fats are commonly found in animal products but such fats are high in cholesterol, whereas there is absolutely no cholesterol in coconut oil. What makes coconut oil different from other vegetable oil is its unique blend of short chain fatty acids and medium chain fatty acids that have amazing health benefits. Being cholesterol free, it is a much better option compared to butter and other trans fats and can be used in healthy 1200 calorie meals.
Nutritional Profile of Coconut Oil
Pure coconut oil is a potent source of nutrients that are beneficial for health, but the most important ones are the fats – saturated, polyunsaturated and mono unsaturated fatty acids that have amazing uses for weight loss and improved cardiovascular health.
- Saturated fatty acids – Medium chain triglycerides such as Lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and myristic acid.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids – Linoleic acid.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids – Oleic acid.
- Poly-phenols – Gallic acid or phenolic acid.
- Derivatives of fatty acid – betaines, ethanolamide, fatty esters, ethoxylates, monoglycerides, fatty polysorbates and polyol esters.
- Vitamins – Vitamin E and Vitamin K
- Minerals – Iron
10 Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
The benefits of coconut oil for hair and skin are well known, but there are several health benefits of coconut as well that are ignored by health conscious people because of the high concentration of saturated fats in this oil. But the fats are mostly made of medium chain fatty acids that are extremely helpful to the body that aids in improving heart health and promoting weight loss.
Promotes Calorie Burn
Obesity has turned out as one of the major chronic diseases of the modern world that paves the path for various health complications such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. How to overcome obesity is the burning question in today’s world. Although, most of us relate obesity to a matter of calories, certain calories can actually help in controlling obesity. One of the most valued health benefits of coconut is in its ability to promote weight loss by stimulating energy expenditure by the body.
The healthy medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) present in coconut and coconut oil increase energy expenditure and intake of 15 to 30 grams of MCTs per day can increase calorie burn by 5% which comes to 120 calories. The benefits of coconut oil for weight loss is especially effective in reducing abdominal fat which remains stored in the abdominal cavity and around the organs.
Keeps Infections at Bay
One of the beneficial coconut oil uses for health is that it can help protect from infection causing bacteria, viruses and fungi. Lauric acid and monolaurin present in coconut oil kill disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria, fungi and viruses effectively and reduce the occurrence of yeast infections in humans.
Coconut oil benefits are also related to the immune system – the body’s natural defense mechanism. The antimicrobial lipids, capric acid and caprylic acid found in coconut oil boost the immune functions of the body and make it better equipped to fight with pathogens that cause influenza, herpes, cytomegalovirus and even HIV.
The list of healthy foods will remain incomplete with the inclusion of coconut in it. Coconut health benefits for weight loss had two-fold functions. Firstly, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) promote energy expenditure and secondly, coconut oil itself reduces hunger and improves satiety so that we don’t overeat and binge on unhealthy, sugary snacks. The satiety inducing benefit of coconut oil can be attributed to the fatty acids. The fatty acids turn into ketones when they are metabolized in the body and these ketones have an appetite reducing effect.
In addition, consuming a teaspoon of virgin cold pressed coconut oil can also help beat the afternoon sugar craving and late night food cravings. This is because, good quality fats keeps you more satiated compared to carbs and helps you cut down on the intake of sugar.
Improves Heart Health
The saturated fats prevailing in coconut oil are actually helpful for the health and nutrition of the body works as one of the effective home remedies for heart. The healthy fats do not harm the blood lipid profile, on the other hand it helps to elevate the level of HDL (good) cholesterol and lower the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides that reduces the damage to arteries and prevents atherosclerosis.
In addition, the high concentration of lauric acid (Almost 50%) in coconut oil protects the heart by reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure. The medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) present in coconut oil are readily metabolized by the liver and converted into energy to fuel brain and muscle functions, rather than being stored in the body as fat.
Boost Brain Functions
One of the most important coconut benefits is that it helps in boosting cognitive functions and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia that affects elderly individuals. The fatty acids release ketones during metabolism in the body and these ketone bodies can act as an alternative source of energy to the malfunctioning brain cells and bring the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease under control.
Research also shows that consumption of medium-chain triglycerides reflects immediate improvement in brain functions in people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Use of coconut oil for cooking can help in improving digestive health and treating digestive disorders such as constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and microbial related tummy bugs. Coconut oil regulates bowel movement and reduces the risk of hemorrhoids.
It improves the body’s capacity to absorb minerals such as calcium and magnesium from foods. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have powerful antimicrobial properties that fight various parasites, bacteria and fungi that cause indigestion. Coconut oil is made up of Medium Chain Fatty Acids that are easy to break down and absorb and is ideal for people suffering from digestive disorders.
Candida is a yeast infection caused due to uncontrolled growth of yeast Candida Albicans in the stomach. The symptoms of Candida include peeling off of skin from scalp, urinary tract infection, infection in the genitals, ear, nose, throat, infection and inflammation of internal organs such as stomach and intestines and dry skin.
Coconut oil is effective in preventing and curing Candida. The deep moisturizing and moisture retaining capacity of coconut oil provides relief from inflammation and prevents skin from peeling off. But for best results, people should begin with a small quantity of coconut oil intake and gradually increase the dosage. It is also the best treatment for ringworm.
Coconut oil is one of the effective super foods for controlling Type 2 Diabetes. The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) present in coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar level by improving glucose tolerance and reducing insulin resistance of the cells.
The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) are readily absorbed into the cells and metabolized into energy which not only lowers the amount of fat stored in the body, but also enhances insulin sensitivity, thereby helping in better management of type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of developing diabetes even in people suffering from prediabetes condition.
One of the most effective coconut benefits for health is that it is one of the potent home remedies to boost metabolism. Regular intake of the oil helps in boosting metabolism which speeds up the fat burning process of the body.
Coconut oil is almost entirely made of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) and these medium-chain fatty acids are absorbed directly by the liver where they are utilized for energy rather than being stored in the form of fats and this process promotes metabolism. The metabolism promoting property of coconut oil can also be linked to its “thermogenic” quality the increases fat burning much more compared to other fats.
Improves Skin Health
Last but not the least comes the skin care benefits of coconut oil. The benefits of coconut oil for skin and hair are well known and it is best for topical application. It is one of the best natural remedies for dry lips and dry skin. Massaging the skin using pure, cold pressed coconut oil on a daily basis can reduce skin dryness and flaking of skin. It is an amazing anti-aging skin remedy that delays the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin sagging – the most evident signs of skin aging.
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of coconut oil makes it the perfect nourishing remedy for treating skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and other skin infections.
Benefits of Various Parts of the Coconut
Coconut along with the coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut flour is extremely beneficial for health. Let us take a look at the various parts of the coconut and how they are useful for us.
- Coconut Oil – coconut oil is one of the healthiest natural oils that is extremely beneficial for the heart. It is widely used for cooking and baking. The lauric acid present in coconut oil raises the level of healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood. Substitute other cooking oils with coconut oil for better health and weight loss. Using coconut oil for grey hair is an age oil remedy that is both easy and effective.
- Coconut Milk – Coconut milk is extracted by boiling the coconut meat in water. The rich and thick cream of coconut is used in a wide range of delicious recipes.
- Coconut Water – Being one of the best natural coolers, coconut water helps in hydrating the body during a hot summer day. A cup of coconut water can supply more than 10% of the daily dose of potassium making it an amazing electrolyte.
- Coconut Flour – This is one of the best healthy foods made from coconut meat. Coconut flour is an important ingredient for baked goods that helps in adding the delicious coconut flavor. 2 Tablespoons of coconut flour contain 5 grams of fiber and merely 2 grams of fat. Adding coconut flour to baked goods lowers the GI index of the foods making them suitable for people with diabetes.
- Coconut Meat – This is one of the super health foods that should be included in a low carb diet because each 2/2 inches of coconut meat contains only 7 grams of carbohydrates and is loaded with fiber (4 grams).
So, now that you know the amazing health benefits of this natural oil, include it in your healthy diet menu and substitute other cooking oils with coconut oil today in order to stay healthy and disease-free in the long run.