Shunned for many years because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil’s reemergence as a health food has left some people scratching their heads. An increasing volume of recent research has suggested that not only is coconut oil not harmful, it in fact seems to offer its consumers a number of health benefits. Scientists are now attributing the health benefits of coconut oil to its unique medium chain fatty acids.
But how to account for the health risks that used to be associated with coconut oil? Dr. Thomas Brenna, professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University notes that many of the older studies on coconut oil have been discredited because of their use of partially hydrogenated coconut oil- that is to say, coconut oil that has been chemically altered into the trans-fats we now widely recognize as health disasters.
“Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is a different thing in terms of a health risk perspective,” he continues, “I think we in the nutrition field are beginning to say that saturated fats are not so bad, and the evidence that said they were is not so strong.”
The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
So what are the health benefits of coconut oil?
Manage Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes
Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia found that coconut oil increased the oxidative capacity of muscles and led to less fat storage in muscle and better insulin action. In this study, the animals were fed a diet with 45% of calories as fats, in order to mimic the high fat diets typical in obese humans. Although the authors speculate that a lower fat diet would likely offer additional benefit, the positive effects of coconut oil were observed even without reducing fat intake.
Assist with Weight Loss
Brazilian scientists investigated the effects of supplementation with coconut oil on cholesterol and waist circumference of 40 women. The women were divided into two groups to receive daily supplements of either 30 ML of soybean oil or coconut oil over 12 weeks. They were also instructed to reduce caloric intake and walk for 50 minutes a day.
At the conclusion of twelve weeks, both groups had lost weight, but only the coconut oil group decreased waist circumference. This study suggests, again, that the fat in coconut oil is processed more effectively and may thus be useful in sustaining satiety without negatively affecting the lipid profile. Coconut oil is effective if you’re looking for how to lose visceral fat (deadly fat on the inside of your body).
Coconut Oil Promotes Skin Health
Among other health benefits of coconut oil lies the benefit regarding skin health. Long used by many cultures in massage oils, skin creams and hair treatments, research has confirmed that coconut oil is an effective moisturizer for dry skin and damaged hair, once again likely because of its rich lauric acid content. Researchers are also increasingly interested in coconut oil’s potential anti-bacterial properties.
Promote Bone and Dental Health
Coconut oil appears to improve absorption of calcium and magnesium, among other minerals, which in turn promotes bone and dental health. Additionally, having coconut oil available can also allow you to experience oil pulling benefits. Oil pulling is something that can help greatly to achieve healthy teeth and gums, and may also be great for detoxing.
Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease
A former foe becomes a formidable friend. Times change, the body of knowledge from whence we derive our information changes, and our understanding evolves. This is normal, and good. Processing new information helps keep your brain healthy. And on that subject, one more article to consider, perhaps the most interesting potential health benefit of coconut oil of all: brain health. More research is certainly needed, but the potential is certainly interesting. You heard it here first.
Coconut oil may also be great for warts, and has been reported to be among many home remedies for itching.