Benefit of coconut oil

From bullet proof coffee to hair masks to cooking spray, there’s no doubt coconut oil is one of the trendiest sources of fat on the market.

The New York Times surveyed Americans and a panel of nutritionists in 2016 and found that 72 percent of people consider the oil to be healthy, which explains why there’s so many health and beauty products enriched with the magical ingredient.

But how many nutritionists from the survey categorized the oil as a health food? Less than 30 percent, likely because not many are aware that coconut oil is 90 percent saturated fat — the kind of fat that raises your cholesterol levels and increases your risk of heart disease.

The Presidential Advisory Board of the American Heart Association (AHA) went so far as to advise against consuming the fat all together in 2017, because of its ability to increase your “bad” LDL cholesterol to dangerous levels. Yet a disconnect still exists between experts and the general public about the health properties of the oil, specifically related to how it can help with weight loss.

According to certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle and president of the Coconut Research Center, the fat found in coconut oil can help your body burn fat, because the saturated fat found in coconut oil is made of different fatty acids than what’s found in other oils, like canola or avocado.

Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which takes another route through the digestive system and competes with glucose to become the body’s preferred energy source. The result? A metabolism boost and weight loss in key areas of the body, including dangerous belly fat.

But how much coconut oil do you need to have in a day to lose weight, and is it safe to be eating so much saturated fat? Here are the facts you need to know, according to experts.

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How Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight

A small amount of research has found associations between coconut oil and weight loss, mostly centered around the fact that it can keep you full, boost your metabolism, and blast belly fat. But our experts say to proceed with caution.

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1. It can boost your metabolism.

MCT oils like coconut oil can help you burn more calories in a day, which may aid with weight loss, according to research.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disordersfound that the long-term consumption of MCT oil may help you burn more calories than a diet that’s heavier in long chain fatty acids, like olive oil, soybean oil, or avocado oil. When your cells use MCTs instead of glucose for fuel, the body’s metabolism is boosted for up to 24 hours, Dr. Fife says.

“There’s strong data on the weight loss properties of MCT oil in general, but not as much for coconut oil specifically,” says Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University. “Coconut oil is only 13.5 percent of purified MCT. To get 10 g of MCT, you need to eat 80 g coconut oil. 80 g of any oil in a single day is a lot of oil, especially coconut oil which is so high in saturated fat.”

Furthermore, St-Onge’ conducted a study in March 2018 that used showed lower doses of coconut oil and a blend of other MTCs did not increase calorie burn in overweight adolescents.

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2. Coconut oil keeps you full.

In its oil form, coconut has been found to satiate hunger for longer periods of time compared to other fats. A small study published in Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine found that consuming virgin coconut oil every day can increase your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) “good” cholesterol to enhance satiety.

“Fats are more filling and satiating, so it could potentially help with weight loss from this point of view,” says Dr. Neel P. Chokshi, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. But should you be eating that many grams of saturated fat?

The group consumed 30 mL (30 g) of coconut oil a day for eight weeks, which is about 26 g of saturated fat, to raise their HDL cholesterol. This is nearly double the AHA recommended 13 grams of saturated fat one should be consuming a day.

“As cardiologists, we are concerned when people eat large amounts of coconut oil because of the high saturated fat,” Dr. Chokshi says. “In excess it will raise your cholesterol. We always advise moderation in fat and saturated fat.”

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3. It can blast belly fat.

Some research has found that consuming coconut oil can burn fat, particularly belly fat, which is dangerous for your heart.

A study published in Lipids gave women either 40 g of coconut oil (MCT) or soybean oil (long chain fatty acid) for 28 days and found that both groups lost weight, but only the coconut oil group had lost belly fat.

But again, 40 g of coconut oil is around 35 g of saturated fat, which is more than twice the amount of daily saturated fat recommended by the AHA.

So, Is Coconut Oil Safe to Eat?

Any food in moderation is OK, Dr. St-Onge says. The AHA suggests aiming for 5 to 6 percent of your daily calories to be saturated fat, which is around 13 grams.

Dr. St-Onge recommends choosing oils that are low in saturated fats and have heart health benefits, like olive oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. But if you are going to go for the coconut, here’s what to keep in mind:

Courtesy of Spectrum Culinary Spectrum Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – 14 fl oz Spectrum amazon.com $12.99

1. Choose the right type of coconut oil.

Dr. Fife recommends using organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil, which has the least amount of processing. However, if you can’t stand the strong coconut taste or smell of unrefined coconut oil, opt for a refined version — buying organic will ensure it was refined using steam, not chemicals.

2. Use it to cook.

Introduce coconut oil into your diet by using it as a substitute for margarine, vegetable oil, and/or olive oil when you’re cooking up delicious food.

3. Add it to salads.

Liquid coconut oil can be added to salad recipes or homemade mayonnaise to help digestion and maximize nutrient uptake, Dr. Fife says.

4. Try it with rice.

Adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to the boiling water for every half-cup of rice may reduce the number of calories your body takes in by 50 to 60%, according to research by the American Chemical Society. Let the coconut-oil water and rice simmer for 20 to 40 minutes, and then refrigerate it for 12 hours.

Nicol Natale Freelance Editorial Assistant Nicol is a freelance Editorial Assistant at WomansDay.com and is a Manhattan-based journalist who specializes in health, wellness, beauty, fashion, business, and lifestyle.

What to know about coconut oil

Supporters claim coconut oil provides various health benefits.

Increasing good cholesterol

Share on PinterestThe MCTs in coconut oil may help preserve insulin sensitivity.

There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. HDL appears to help reduce levels of LDL, and high levels of HDL may help boost cardiovascular health.

Some researchers have argued that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a component in coconut oil, may help boost levels of good cholesterol. Participants took 1 tablespoon of coconut oil twice daily for 8 weeks.

However, results have varied. One small study in 2004 found the opposite. In research, dietary MCT increased bad cholesterol in 17 healthy young men. The scientists did not study any other indicators of heart health.

A 2016 study found no clear evidence that coconut oil either benefits or harms cholesterol levels.

However, findings published in 2018 suggested that extra virgin coconut oil’s impact on cholesterol may be similar to that of olive oil. So far, the results remain inconclusive, and more studies are needed.

Learn more about how to reduce cholesterol.

Controlling blood sugar

Findings from a 2009 animal study suggested that MCTs, present in coconut oil, may help preserve insulin sensitivity. The review also listed the specific beneficial health effects of MCT oil, not coconut oil, in 29 studies.

However, other investigations have not found the same results. This study on mini pigs, however, looked at an excess calorie, high fat diet that also included hydrogenated fats and high fructose.

Which foods help manage blood sugar levels? Find out here.

Reducing stress

Virgin coconut oil may have antioxidant properties. In a rodent study, it appeared to reduce stress resulting from exercise and chronic cold. Researchers believe that virgin coconut oil could be useful in treating some kinds of depression.

Many plant based foods provide antioxidants. Learn more here.

Shiny hair

Some people apply coconut oil to their hair to increase shine and protect it from damage. It may penetrate the scalp better than mineral oils.

However, one study of people with similar hair types found no difference in hair condition between those who used coconut oil and those who did not.

Healthy skin

Applying a coconut extract to human skin may enhance its protective barrier functions and have an anti-inflammatory effect, says a 2017 study.

These findings could have implications for medicine but not for the diet.

Some foods may help boost skin health. Get some tips here.

Fighting candida

In an in vitro study, coconut oil was active against Candida albicans (C. albicans), suggesting it could be a treatment for candida.

This may be due to the extract’s barrier functions and anti-inflammatory properties. However, this is not the same as consuming regular coconut oil since it is not fermented.

Can coconut oil fight candida? See this article for more details.

Preventing liver disease

In a 2017 study, rats with liver disease consumed a high glucose diet either with or without coconut oil. Those who consumed coconut oil had better measures of liver health after 4 weeks than those who did not.

This suggests that some elements in coconut oil may help protect the liver.

Reducing asthma symptoms

Inhaling coconut oil has helped reduce asthma symptoms in rabbits.

However, no studies have taken place in humans, so people should not inhale coconut oil.

Improving satiety

Some people have argued that coconut oil leaves people feeling fuller after eating, which means they will not eat so much.

However, one study compared MCT oil to coconut oil and confirmed that MCT oil exerts effects on satiety, not coconut oil.

Dental health

A 2017 review discusses the importance of oil pulling for dental health. Oil pulling is a traditional oral treatment. It involves swishing an oil around the oral cavity, in a similar way to the modern mouthwash.

Studies have found coconut oil pulling to protect against cavities, improve gingivitis, and influence the oral bacterial balance.

Weight loss

A study comparing two products found that coconut oil was less likely to trigger diabetes and weight gain in mice. Some have interpreted this as meaning coconut oil can help people lose weight.

One reason weight gain occurs is when people consume more calories than they use for energy.

All high fat foods and oils are high in calories. One tablespoon of coconut oil, weighing 13.6 grams (g) contains 121 calories, which is more than lard and butter and slightly less than sunflower oil.

Adding more high fat, calorie dense foods to a diet that contains carbohydrates and plenty of calories may not result in weight loss.

Which breakfast foods can help people lose weight? Find out here.

Cautions

Several investigations have looked into coconut oil and its possible benefits, but many of these are small, inconclusive, and animal- or lab-based.

Some human studies have confirmed several benefits, but other studies on people show conflicting results. More research is needed to confirm the effects of daily coconut oil use.

There’s no doubt coconut oil is having a moment — it’s been touted as a cure-all for everything from heart disease to the inability to squeeze into your jeans. But at 117 calories, 14 grams total fat, and 12 grams saturated fat (60% of the daily value) per one tablespoon, it’s also gotten quite a bit of negative press too.

As a registered dietitian, one of the biggest qualms I have with villainizing coconut oil is the same problem I have with its health-halo coronation: We’re giving this hairy, brown, pseudo-tree nut way too much power! Coconut oil was never the elixir it was touted to be, nor is it a liquid (or solid at room temperature) demon out to raise our total cholesterol and fuel the obesity epidemic.

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People tend to gravitate toward newsy headlines that spark controversy instead of supporting the general consensus of the scientific community — and that’s doing us much more harm than good. Compared to other plant-based oils, it’s absolutely true that coconut oil is higher in saturated fat. But just as it can’t cure us or make us sick in isolation, it also should be considered for what it is: a condiment.

The bottom line is that having a tablespoon a day is unlikely to harm anyone, but coconut oil does not currently have the data we need to support swilling the stuff as many food marketers would have you believe.

For now, use oils for cooking purposes and stick to more protein-packed condiments like nut butters and dairy products. Here, some of the most common claims about coconut oil we hear daily — debunked!

Claim #1: Coconut oil burns belly fat.

The Truth: No way, Jose. A few small studies have linked downing extra-virgin coconut oil to decreased waist circumference in individuals at risk for heart disease or diabetes, but mostly, participants had already started — and stayed — on a weight-loss diet before using coconut oil. That makes it difficult (not to mention irresponsible) to say that these results mean anything for the average Joe/Joanne like you and me.

For now: Since plant-based oils of any kind are mostly made up of fat, using 1 to 2 tablespoons when cooking veggies, lean protein, and/or whole grains can make it easier to stick to a weight loss plan for the long term.

Claim #2: Coconut oil revs metabolism.

The Truth: Again, in our dreams. The only truly dependable factor in changing your metabolic rate is to increase the ratio of lean body mass to free fat mass (in other words: more muscles = increased metabolism). While some compounds such as caffeine may temporarily rev metabolism a teensy bit, coconut oil has yet to show any real results on that front.

Claim #3: Coffee with coconut oil helps you lose weight.

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The Truth: While we’re on the topic of caffeine, bulletproof coffee — a.k.a. coffee and coconut oil — is also a weight-loss dead end. Keto or paleo diet enthusiasts swear by it, but it may actually make you gain weight instead.

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That’s because the mere act of chewing, swallowing, and digesting food is much more satisfying than drinking calorie-containing coffee add-ins. Remember, cream is mostly saturated fat, just like coconut oil — so the more you add, the more calories your cup o’ joe contains.

That said, if you’re keen on making your breakfast multitask, consider a more conscious, protein-packed source: A 16-ounce skim latte can provide up to 13 grams of protein per 120 calorie serving, which will tide you over between breakfast and lunch (and help keep your metabolism going throughout the day!). A cup of coffee and coconut oil, however, will set you back anywhere from 135 to 470 cals, up to 47 grams of saturated fat (over 200% of the daily value), and zero grams of protein.

Claim #4: Coconut oil tastes like coconuts.

The Truth: Rarely, but virgin, unrefined coconut butter, may retain a bit more of that coconutty taste than the liquid, refined type, which can contain all sorts of infused flavors. Regardless, if you’re using it for a perceived health benefit (and not for flavor), you’re typically better off with another plant-based oil, which can withstand higher heat when cooking.

Claim #5: Coconut oil is antibacterial.

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The Truth: About half of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are from a type of fatty acid called lauric acid, which has been linked to antimicrobial, antifungal effects that may reduce the risk of certain diseases.

But that’s no reason to guzzle enough coconut oil to bathe your internal organs in the stuff! Research is still ongoing on the topic. Since you’d have to consume high amounts to get that effect and dietary fat from any plant-based oil can rack up quickly, it may not be worth the risk.

Claim #6: Coconut oil is heart healthy.

The Truth: Nope. But it won’t definitively increase your risk for heart disease, either. One tablespoon of coconut oil provides more than half the amount of saturated fat that the American Heart Association recommends per day! Foods high in saturated fat have been linked to increasing your total cholesterol in addition to your LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol).

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In some studies, coconut oil helped to raise HDL (our “good” cholesterol) and total cholesterol without necessarily affecting LDL. But it’s not enough to make a recommendation across the board. Since other heart-healthy oils like soybean, extra virgin olive oil, or canola have been linked to lowering LDL and total cholesterol overall, these options are still better alternatives.

Claim #7: Coconut oil is good for cognition.

The Truth: Can coconut oil make you smarter? I wish — I’d have chugged it by the gallon in grad school! There is some developing research that supports the use of coconut oil in slowing Alzheimer’s disease progression in at-risk populations. That said, extra-virgin olive oil (among others, such as corn oil) has also been linked to decreasing risk of dementia, cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative diseases for the same reasons. Bottom line: Swap butter for plant-based oils that contain phytonutrients when you’re cooking at home.

Claim #8: Coconut oil can help diabetics.

The Truth: Any time a diabetic consumes a source of protein or fat in conjunction with carbohydrates, you slow down the rate at which glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream — meaning that it’ll stop your blood sugar from spiking.

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Since coconut oil is a mostly saturated fat, diabetics may notice less of a sugar spike when dousing any food in coconut oil … but that’s by no means a blood sugar cure-all. In fact, since diets high in saturated fat are also linked to risk of diabetes, those who overload on the stuff may be putting themselves even more at risk for chronic disease.

Claim #9: Coconut oil contains cholesterol.

The Truth: Despite the fact that you may see plant-based oils with labels that claim “no cholesterol” on packaging, there should never be dietary cholesterol in a plant-based oil — or food, for that matter! Cholesterol is a hormone found in the bodies of all animals (humans included), which is why you shouldn’t see it in vegetarian foods. That small fact aside doesn’t stop food marketers from using it on labels though.

The bottom line: Proceed with caution.

While coconut oil can be delicious, choose it for its flavor, not for perceived health benefits. When consumed in 1 to 2 tablespoons per day, all plant-based oils can help you stay healthy and maintain weight for the long term.

Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

What Is Coconut Oil? Whether It’s Healthy, How to Use It, and Everything Else to Know

Possible Health Benefits and Risks of Coconut Oil

The health benefits of coconut oil aren’t so cut-and-dried; in fact, it’s a very controversial topic. Take one Harvard University professor’s comment that coconut oil is reines Gift, or “pure poison,” in a viral video of a talk she gave in Germany. (In the video, Business Insider Deutschland reports, the professor, Karin Michels, also says in German that the trendy oil is “one of the worst foods you can eat.”)

On one hand, advocates of consuming coconut oil acknowledge that it’s high in saturated fat, which has been implicated in increased heart disease risk. But they point out that there’s something unique about the saturated fat found in the tropical oil: It’s rich in a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid, which may behave differently in the body from other saturated fats.

Why? Because of these fatty acids, coconut oil may, in fact, improve “good” HDL cholesterol levels. (7) One study in Nutrition Reviews notes that while saturated-fat-rich coconut oil raises total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels more than unsaturated plant oils, it didn’t do so by as much as butter. (8)

One randomized clinical trial in BMJ Open looked at the health result of consuming about 1.75 ounces of extra-virgin coconut oil, butter, or extra-virgin olive oil daily for four weeks. Much as previous research has shown, butter upped LDL levels more than coconut and olive oils. Coconut also increased HDL levels more than butter or olive oil. While this wasn’t a study on weight loss (so no one was told to, say, cut calories), the researchers note that no one in the groups lost (or gained) weight or belly fat by adding any of these fats. (9)

Concerns about coconut oil’s saturated fat prevent many experts from recommending it. But even the idea that saturated fat is bad for the heart isn’t universally accepted. A recommendation from top nutrition and health researchers on behalf of the American Heart Association recommended that people replace saturated with unsaturated fats to reduce heart disease risk. (10) Likewise, a review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on the health effects of coconut oil suggest that people avoid it because of the high levels of saturated fat, which they note can raise LDL cholesterol, making you more prone to conditions like heart disease.

But other research, including some in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to recommend making this switch. (11)

Someone could jump to the conclusion that if saturated fat isn’t all that bad, and coconut oil’s fatty acids may even be health-promoting, they have carte blanche to eat it. (12,13,14)

The facts as they stand are that the effect of coconut oil on health isn’t quite clear.

The reality may be that when placed in the typical standard American diet (dubbed the SAD diet), coconut oil may behave differently. The entirety of your eating habits may matter more than whether or not you include this oil. Baseline heart disease rates may be lower in South Asian cultures, which frequently consume coconut oil, and that may not be the case if the oil is included in any diet. (15)

“Observational evidence suggests that consumption of coconut flesh or squeezed coconut in the context of traditional dietary patterns does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, due to large differences in dietary and lifestyle patterns, these findings cannot be applied to a typical Western diet,” the authors of the Nutrition Reviews study write. (16)

One potential benefit: Medium-chain fatty acids like lauric acid are quickly broken down by the body and converted into energy, which is why the oil is often included in weight loss diets. As the Mayo Clinic points out, a few small studies suggest that it may benefit your waistline, but it doesn’t have any measurable effect on BMI. (17,18) And long-term effects on weight loss aren’t known.

Plus, as the Mayo Clinic mentions, just because something may be metabolized quickly doesn’t mean you can have a field day. Coconut oil still contains calories, and eating more than your body needs will likely result in weight and fat gain.

Another plus of coconut oil is that it remains stable under heat, meaning it’s not as likely as other oils to oxidize and create harmful compounds like free radicals during cooking. (16) Different types of coconut oil are suitable for different cooking methods. Virgin coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit (F) — meaning you can heat it up to that temperature before it begins to smoke and oxidize; refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point, of 400 degrees F, allowing you more leeway. (1)

The most recent craze surrounding coconut oil has been the traditional Ayurvedic practice, oil pulling. Consumers have flocked to supermarkets and health stores to get their hands on one of oral health’s best kept secrets, but the benefits of this antibacterial and anti-fungal super ingredient doesn’t stop at your teeth. Coconut oil is the latest food cure-all that can have profound positive effects on your overall health.

Coconut oil is a heart-healthy food that can help keep your body running smoothly and efficiently in a number of ways. The oil contains a combination of fatty acids, medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which contain antioxidant properties and help in the absorption of other minerals, according to Healthline. Here are the various ways it can impact your health:

1. Lowers Cholesterol

This superfood is loaded with saturated fats that actually raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short and MCFAs, specifically lauric, capric, and myristic acids that are linked to special health benefits, such as reducing cholesterol.

“Interestingly enough, the boosting of HDLs is actually greater than the boost of Total Cholesterol or Total LDL. Ultimately, healthy clinical ratios like Total Cholesterol:HDL and Triglyceride: HDL, LDL:HDL improve,” Dr. Alex Rinehart, a chiropractic physician and owner of Arizona Nutrition Center in Goodyear, Ariz., told Medical Daily in an email.

This corresponds to a 2009 study published in the journal Lipids, which found coconut oil reduced Total and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL, compared to soybean oil.

2. Weight Loss Aid

The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil can speed up energy usage compared to other fats. The MCTs in coconut oil, according to Rinehart, digest as fast as sugar in the body.

“They are used up preferentially as opposed to other fuel sources and so don’t get added to fat cells or ultimately contribute to weight gain,” Rinehart said. Since there is a delayed digestion in the liver, they boost metabolism.

A 2011 study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information Pharmacology found a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches after four weeks of 1 ounce of coconut oil per day. The participants did not exercise or go under a restrictive diet. Rather they lost a substantial amount of abdominal fat by adding coconut oil to their diet.

3. Moisturizes Skin

Coconut oil can be used as a skin moisturizer because of its vitamin E content and its positive antioxidant action in the body. This helps stop the damage to the tissues in the body since oxidation is a major source of skin aging.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a dermatologist in Sebastopol, Calif., and diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology told Medical Daily in an email, “Coconut has surprising benefits when applied to the skin as a moisturizer. It can reduce the harmful skin germ called staph aureus.”

Its anti-microbial properties can also be useful with things like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and staph infections. A 2004 study published in the journal Dermatitis found coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of people with dry skin.

4. Better Brain Function

The MCTs in coconut oil provides a “secondary fuel source” aside from glucose that the brain and nervous system can function on. High sugar can contribute to neurological problems, including Alzheimer’s, which has been theorized as a “type 3 diabetes,” according to Rinehart. In Alzheimer’s, the brain effectively blocks glucose uptake, so it is fuel-deprived, which can lead to general neurodegeneration.

The consumption of MCTs has led to an improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s, according to a 2004 study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. Higher ketone values — derivatives from fat that are the only other fuel source aside from glucose the brain can function on — were associated with greater improvement in Alzheimer’s patients. Coconut oil’s MCTs may provide therapeutic benefits for memory-impaired adults.

5. Kills Bacteria, Viruses, And Fungi

Coconut oil has lauric acid, which is believed to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties. This makes it helpful with various types of infections.

Dr. Joe Alton, survival medicine expert, fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Congress of OB/GYN, and co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook, a guide for when help is NOT on the way, told Medical Daily in an email, “The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can cause indigestion.”

A 2000 study published in the Journal of Bacteriology found lauric acid and monolaurin can kill pathogens like the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Alton added coconut oil helps in the absorption of other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

Add coconut oil to your daily diet for better health!

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A perfect example of a healthy food that has been demonized by mainstream nutrition professionals is coconut oil.

Coconut oil improves blood lipids in both animals and humans. Photo credit:

It has mainly gotten a bad rap because it is very high in saturated fat.

But as we know, saturated fat is not so bad and what we’re left with is a perfectly healthy cooking oil.

Coconut Oil Got a Bad Rap in The Past

Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat you can find, with around 90 percent of calories as saturated fat.

Saturated fat was unfairly demonized a few decades ago by a few biased but highly influential scientists. However, new studies show that there is no association between saturated fat and heart disease.

The initial studies on coconut oil that supposedly demonstrated that it was unhealthy used refined and hydrogenated coconut oil that contained trans fats.

These studies have no relevance to the unrefined, organic, virgin coconut oil that is commonly found in health food stores today… which is the subject of this article.

Populations That Eat a lot of Coconut Are Healthy

If coconut fat were bad for you, then we should see some very sick people in populations that eat a lot of it.

But we don’t. Populations who eat a large percentage of calories from coconuts are much healthier than Western nations.

The Tokelauans ate more than 50 percent of calories as coconut and were the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world . The Kitavans ate up to 17 percent of calories as saturated fat, mostly from coconut.

Both of these populations had no traces of cardiovascular disease despite the high saturated fat consumption and were overall in exceptional health.

Bottom Line: Populations that eat a lot of coconut are in excellent health.

Coconut Oil Has a Unique Composition of Fatty Acids

Coconut oil is very different from most other cooking oils and contains a unique composition of fatty acids.

The fatty acids are about 90 percent saturated.

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This makes coconut oil highly resistant to oxidation at high heats. For this reason, it is the perfect oil for high-heat cooking methods like frying.

Additionally, coconut oil consists almost entirely of Medium Chain Triglycerides.

These fatty acids go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are likely to be turned into ketone bodies and provide a quick source of energy.

Epileptic patients on ketogenic diets often use these fats to induce ketosis while allowing for a little bit of carbs in the diet.

Bottom Line: Coconut oil is rich in saturated medium chain fatty acids. They are resistant to high heat and can easily turn into ketone bodies in the liver.

Populations that eat a lot of coconut are in excellent health. Photo credit:

Coconut Oil is Rich in Lauric Acid

The most abundant fatty acid in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid, which is broken down into a compound called monolaurin in the body.

Lauric acid and monolaurin are both very interesting due to the fact that they can kill microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses.

For this reason, coconut oil can be protective against various infections.

Bottom Line: The main fatty acid in coconut is an efficient killer of pathogens.

Coconut Oil, Blood Lipids and Cardiovascular Disease

Unrefined coconut oil actually improves blood lipid profiles.

In two separate rat studies, virgin coconut oil was compared against copra oil (refined coconut oil) and corn oil.

The virgin coconut oil significantly reduced Total and LDL cholesterol, oxidized LDL, triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol.

It also had favorable effects on blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status.

In a study of women with abdominal obesity, coconut oil increased HDL and lowered the LDL:HDL ratio, while soybean oil increased Total and LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL.

Medium chain triglycerides (the fats in coconut oil) have also been shown to reduce blood triglycerides compared to long chain fats.

Coconut oil may be protective against heart disease, not the other way around.

Bottom Line: Coconut oil improves blood lipids in both animals and humans.

Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight

There is considerable evidence that coconut oil can help you lose weight.

In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity, coconut oil reduced waist circumference compared to soybean oil while also improving health markers (see above).

Medium chain triglycerides have also been consistently shown to promote weight loss in both animal and human studies:

  • They increase energy expenditure compared to long chain fats.
  • They lead to greater satiety.
  • They lead to a greater proportion of the weight lost come from fat, indicating that they may be muscle sparing.

Substituting other calorie sources for coconut oil is likely to help you lose weight.

Bottom Line: The fatty acids in coconut oil can increase energy expenditure, improve satiety and help you lose weight.

Coconut Oil Has Other Amazing Health Benefits

Like I mentioned above, coconut oil is likely to turn into ketone bodies in the liver.

Ketone bodies can provide energy for the brain. They are particularly useful against epilepsy and may also improve various other disorders.

Coconut oil applied topically can also moisturize skin and protect against hair damage.

To top it all off, coconut oil goes with almost any food and tastes awesome.

Coconut oil is a metabolism boosting fat that also increases your energy and improves your digestions. Here are 12 simple ways to eat more coconut oil daily!

One of the things I love most about coconut oil is that it tastes amazing and is pretty easy to add into your diet. Once you start adding it to your diet you’ll find it’s not hard at all to get the recommended 2-3 tablespoons into your diet.

How To Eat More Coconut Oil

1. Cook With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is ideal for cooking since it has a high smoke point of 350 degrees and 400 degrees if you use refined coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is a better choice because it’s less refined and pure. If you’re not a fan of your food tasting like coconut, you can use expeller pressed coconut oil. You’ll want to make sure that the expeller pressed coconut oil is processed without solvents or chemicals. Read more about how to cook with coconut oil here.

2. Take It By The Spoonful
If you don’t mind the taste or feel of coconut oil in your mouth taking coconut oil by the spoonful is one of the easiest ways eat more on a daily basis. If you’re trying to eat more coconut oil to help with weight loss, it’s best to take it 20 minutes before a meal to help reduce appetite, feel full and satisfied with smaller portions and to boost your metabolism.

3. Add To Your Smoothies
I love to make smoothies for my family. It’s one of the easiest ways to add nutrient dense foods to their diet! You can easily add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie. It’s best to add melted coconut oil to your smoothie if you don’t want it to clump up (we honesty don’t mind the small clumps of coconut oil in our smoothies).

4. Add Coconut Oil To Your Coffee or Tea
Eat more coconut oil by adding it to your coffee or tea. Just add a teaspoon or two to your hot beverage and stir until the coconut oil is melted. You can also blend coconut oil into your coffee for a frothy treat!

5. Make Coconut Oil Chocolate
A family favorite treat is my homemade coconut oil chocolate bars. These easy to make chocolates are made with metabolism boosting coconut oil and are delicious. Keep a batch of them in your freezer for when you have a chocolate craving.

6. Bake with Coconut Oil
Whether your making muffins, pancakes or bread you can switch out butter or oil for coconut oil in most recipes. Just remember that coconut oil will solidify if you add cold ingredients to your batter, so make sure all ingredients are room temperature before you start baking.

7. Add To Your Oatmeal
If oatmeal (or coconut oatmeal) is your breakfast of choice simple add a teaspoon or two to it while it’s warm.

8. Mix it into your yogurt
Like oatmeal, coconut oil can easily be added to yogurt too. The best way to do this is to melt it first, then slowly add it to your yogurt. Make sure to mix it well before you dig in!

9. Add to your nut butter
If you eat natural peanut butter or almond butter you may notice that the oil separates to the top of the jar. You can discard the peanut oil and mix coconut oil into your nut butter. Make sure to melt the coconut oil first before adding it to your peanut butter.

10. Fry it up in coconut oil!
We don’t eat fried food a lot around here but when my husband makes a request, I use coconut oil to make homemade fried chicken fingers, coconut shrimp or coconut oil french fries.

11. Coconut Oil Softgels
For those who struggle taking coconut oil or adding it to your diet, coconut oil capsules are available. You can find them at your local health food store on with our online sponsor here.

12. Eat Coconut and Coconut Products
Love raw coconut meat? Add raw or dried coconut meat to your diet your salads, smoothies and fruit. Many coconut products like coconut milk, coconut butter and shredded coconut oil contain good sources of health promoting medium chain fatty acids. Using coconut products in your diet is a wonderful way to eat more coconut oil on a daily basis.

Where To Buy Coconut Oil

We use the following brands of coconut oil in our kitchen.

Note: The following links are affiliate links and if you purchase a product through these links I will receive a small commission for the sale. This helps support the work on The Coconut Mama website. Thank you!

  • Nutiva Coconut Oil
  • Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil
  • Perfect Supplements Coconut Oil

Tiffany – The Coconut Mama

I’m a mama of three beautiful coconuts and they are the reason I named my website, The Coconut Mama. I’m passionate about traditional and healing foods. As a true believer in the health benefits of coconut, I use coconut products in all my recipes. I share my tutorials and recipes on my site with the hope of helping others to live healthier lives – with coconut!

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Coconut oil has seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to many touted health benefits, ranging from reducing belly fat to strengthening the immune system, preventing heart disease, and staving off dementia. These claims are often backed by celebrity endorsements and bolstered by proponents of popular diets such as ketogenic and Paleo, with little support from scientific evidence. On the flip side, and further adding to the confusion, you also may have seen headlines calling out coconut oil as “pure poison,” implying that it shouldn’t be consumed at all. Given these contradictory claims, a question of much public and scientific interest is whether there is room for coconut oil in a healthy diet.

Bad fats, good fats

Coconut oil largely consists of saturated fat (80% to 90% of fat in coconut oil is saturated), making it solid at room temperature. Other sources of saturated fat include animal products such as meat and dairy, and other plant-based tropical oils such as palm oil. Consumption of saturated fat has long been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to its ability to raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels.

Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. They can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation, among other cardiovascular benefits. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.

Guidelines advise limiting the type of fat found in coconut oil

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 10% of total calories from saturated fat. And last year the American Heart Association (AHA) released a scientific advisory statement recommending the replacement of saturated fats in the diet, including coconut oil, with unsaturated fats. In their statement, the AHA cited and discussed a review of seven randomized controlled trials, in which coconut oil was found to raise LDL cholesterol levels.

The rationale behind the AHA recommendation is that consuming unsaturated fats in place of saturated fat will lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and improve the ratio of total cholesterol to “good” HDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease. For those at risk of or who already have heart disease, the AHA advises no more than 6% of total calories from saturated fat, or about 13 grams based on a 2,000-calorie diet. One tablespoon of coconut oil comes close to that limit, with about 12 grams of saturated fat.

Health benefits of coconut oil may be exaggerated

With such salient evidence supporting the replacement of saturated fat, including coconut oil, with unsaturated fat for optimal cardiovascular health, where do the myriad health claims for coconut oil come from?

Many of the health claims for coconut oil are based on studies that used a special formulation of coconut oil made of 100% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This is not the coconut oil available on supermarket shelves. MCTs have a shorter chemical structure than other fats, and are quickly absorbed and metabolized by the body, which is thought to promote a feeling of fullness and prevent fat storage.

However, the coconut oil found on most supermarket shelves contains mostly lauric acid, which is absorbed and metabolized more slowly than MCT. As a result, the health benefits reported from specially constructed MCT coconut oil cannot be applied to regular coconut oil.

Interestingly, lauric acid itself has also been purported to have health benefits. While lauric acid has been shown to increase LDL cholesterol levels, it also raises HDL cholesterol levels, suggesting a potential heart-protective role of coconut oil. However, large epidemiological studies have failed to report protective associations between lauric acid and cardiovascular disease.

Findings from epidemiological studies that report low rates of cardiovascular disease among populations who consume coconut oil as part of their traditional diets (in India, the Philippines, and Polynesia, for example) have also been cited as support for the health benefits of coconut oil. However, in these studies many other characteristics of the participants, including background, dietary habits, and lifestyle, could explain the findings.

Coconut oil: neither superfood nor poison

Based on the current evidence, coconut oil is neither a superfood nor a poison. Rather, its role in the diet falls somewhere in between. Coconut oil has a unique flavor and is best consumed in small amounts, as a periodic alternative to other vegetable oils like olive or canola that are rich in unsaturated fat. This dietary choice should be made in the context of an overall healthy dietary pattern, and within the recommended limits for saturated fat intake.

We all know by now the magical powers of coconut oil – unless you haven’t been on the internet in the past year or so. If you HAVE, you’ll have seen that coconut oil is all the rage, and for good reason.

Coconut oil is basically an all-in-one beauty product. It’s a great, natural conditioner for your hair, it gives your skin a glowing complexion, and it can even whiten your teeth.

Is there anything you can’t do, coconut oil?

But our favorite oil initially rose to fame when it was discovered as a healthy replacement for some bad oils (see butter, cooking oil, ect.) in your baking and cooking. It tastes DELICIOUS in brownies and cakes, and works great for your regular weeknight dinners, too!

So, with this deliciousness in mind, we’re here to ask the burning question on everyone’s mind: can I eat coconut oil straight from the jar?

EstheKitchen

I mean, I spoon peanut butter and Nutella straight from the jar (they are my staple snacks for each episode of Game of Thrones), so can I do the same with coconut oil? Or will I be making myself stupidly sick by doing so?

To answer this question, here’s everything you need to know about just how edible coconut oil is.

WHAT IS COCONUT OIL?

Coconut oil is an extracted oil that is pulled from – you guessed it – coconuts. The oil is extracted mainly from the meaty part of a harvested coconut.

IS COCONUT OIL BAD FOR YOU?

In the past, coconut oil was thought to be pretty bad for you. Why? Because it has a high amount of saturated fats, with about 90% of calories coming from saturated fats.

Those words sound scary, yes, but we now know that saturated fat is quite good for you, in moderation. Saturated fats can help fight off bacterial infections and even help lower your cholesterol. New studies have even found that saturated fats are NOT associated with heart disease, something they have been linked to for decades.

However, coconut oil does contain a high amount of calories, making up about 8% of a person’s daily caloric intake with just two tablespoons.

SO…CAN I EAT IT OFF THE SPOON?

If you wanted to, absolutely! Coconut oil is 100% edible. Although with its high percentage of calories and fats, it’s essentially like you’re eating a more-delicious stick of butter than anything else.

Watching your calories? Use little bits of coconut oil in your cooking, but we would skip eating it straight from the jar.

However, if you needed a quick burst of energy, it could be just the snack you need. Coconut oil has the ability to turn into ketone bodies when processed through the liver, which gives you a healthy, long-last boost of energy. So nibbling on some coconut oil to get you through you mid-morning slump might not be so bad.

If you’re thinking you’ll pass on eating coconut oil straight from the jar, but still want to incorporate it into your diet more, here are a few easy ways to eat coconut oil daily.

1. Add to Your Smoothies

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Can’t start the day without your morning smoothie? Throw a little coconut oil into the mix for a yummy boost to your metabolism! This recipe from The Kitchen is one of our favorites using coconut oil.

5-MINUTE VEGAN BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen fruit medley (favorite: strawberry, mango, pineapple, papaya)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger

DIRECTIONS

1 . Combine the almond milk, banana, frozen fruit, coconut oil, chia seeds, and powdered ginger in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Now that’s a good way to start off your day.

2. Use In Your Cooking

Coconut oil is a great choice for cooking. Not only is it a healthier option than heavy cooking oils like butter, but it has a high smoking point of up to 400 F. Using Virgin coconut oil works best of all in cooking because it’s less refined and pure.

When your pan is heating up for your nightly stir-fry, throw in a teaspoon of coconut oil to grease up the pan and add some flavor rather than a pad of butter. You can even use coconut oil when you’re frying something up (homemade chicken tenders, perhaps?) for a lighter variation of your favorite crunchy dinner.

3. Add to Your Coffee or Tea

More of a coffee person? Forget Half and Half, use coconut oil! Coconut oil goes great in coffee – it gives it a really smooth, frothy taste and texture. Just add a dollop into your java and stir until the oil has completely dissolved.

If you’re a tea drinker (and you like a little sweetness or creaminess to your tea), coconut oil also works fantastically.

4. Use In Your Baking

POPSUGAR Food

More than anything, we’ve found that coconut oil works great in baking. It’s the perfect replacement for butter and other oils. A great recipe to start off with? These gooey chocolate chip cookies, featuring coconut oil.

WHOLE WHEAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted (see note)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.5 ounces) white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oatmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

1 . Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 2. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and coconut oil until light in color, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and whip the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and oatmeal until barely combined – there should be a lot of streaks of dry ingredients remaining. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined. 3. Scoop and roll the cookie dough into 1-inch (or so) balls and place 1-2 inches apart on a lined (with parchment or a silpat liner) or greased baking sheet. 4. Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are lightly golden and set but the middles are still soft. 5. Let the cookies sit for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets after removing them from the oven before using a spatula to place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Do you use coconut creatively in your diet? Do you love to eat the good stuff straight off the spoon? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Behold the coconut, one of Mother Nature’s sweetest tropical fruits (or nut or seed, depending on who you ask.)

Scientists and foodologists aren’t entirely sure where coconuts came from, and when, but their best guess is that coconuts are a variety of prehistoric plant that originated in the South Pacific – most likely in New Guinea.

Reportedly, sailors aboard Vasco de Gama’s fleet dubbed the fruit with the name “coco” – sailor lingo for a hobgoblin-like, grimacing face. When “cocos” were brought back and introduced in England, the locals added the term “nut” to coco, giving it the name still widely in use today.

The inside meat of a coconut is considered by nutritionists to be abundant with protein, while the milk inside the coconut is light, refreshing with a low sugar level. Besides being a South Pacific food staple, coconuts have other uses as well. For example, natives have used coconuts as an insect repellent (mosquitoes hate the smell and haze of a burning coconut husk.)

Perhaps the most useful ingredient inside a coconut is the oil, which health-food advocates say contributes to higher energy levels and a stronger metabolism. In fact, coconut oil’s benefits (and some risks) have become a hot topic in health and nutrition circles, as more and more people turn to coconut oil to better their wellness habits.

Are they on to something? Here’s a deep dive on coconut oil, and what it brings to the table for you.

What Is Coconut Oil?

In a word, coconut oil is a body-friendly foodstuff that is heart-healthy, great for oral health, and other health benefits. Structurally, coconut oil is taken from coconut kernels. It’s tasteless and colorless, and is available for consumer usage in refined and unrefined coconut oil.

Advocates call the coconut a “superfood”, but the evidence doesn’t completely support that name tag – at least not yet.

Composite-wise, coconut oil contains a cornucopia of fatty acids and proteins that hold antioxidants and provide myriad health benefits. It’s rich in so-called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s), which are, in great part, comprised of Caprylic acid, Lauric acid and Capric acid.

Approximately 60% of all coconut oils are comprised of the above three fatty acids, while 90% of coconut oil fats is comprised of heart-healthy saturated fats. The latter figure is a high one, and not one that is recommendable to many doctors. For example, 14% of olive oil calories come from saturated fat, and 63% of butter’s calories come from saturated fat.

As a rule, nutritionists love MCFA’s, noting that, among other advantages, they’re easily digestible and since they’re processed by the liver, MCFA’s are more effectively and quickly converted to energy, and not fat, inside the body.

Coconut Oil Nutritional Facts

Here is how coconut oil is broken down, nutritionally (based on one tablespoon of coconut oil.)

  • 120 calories.
  • 0 grams of protein
  • 14 grams of fat (12 = saturated fat; 1 = monounsaturated fat; and 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats.)
  • 0 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol

It’s worth noting that, component-wise, coconut oils often differ in their make-up, and differ in their health benefits.

For example, partially hydrogenated coconut oil isn’t deemed as healthy by nutritionists – it’s similar as other processed oils that hold trans fats. Yet so-called “virgin” coconut oil comes from fruit component of coconuts, and is extracted without the use of chemicals or other foreign agents. Thus, nutritionists look more favorably on virgin coconut oil.

10 Benefits of Coconut Oil

There is a growing body of evidence that coconut oil offers some health benefits, both internally and externally.

1. A Boost in Good Cholesterol

Coconut oil is said to modestly hike one’s level of good cholesterol.

2. Good for Blood Sugar and Diabetes

Coconut oil can aid in lowering obesity levels in the body and also battles insulin resistance – issues that often lead to type two diabetes.

3. Helps Fight Back Against Alzheimer’s Disease

The MCFA component in coconut oil – especially its generation of ketones by the liver – aids in mending brain function in Alzheimer patients.

4. Helps Stop Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Since coconut oil is so high in saturated fats, that helps boost HDL (or “good”) cholesterol to ward off heart disease and lowering high triglycerides. Additionally, coconut oil also performs a rather remarkable and heart-healthy feat – it helps turn bad cholesterol into good cholesterol.

5. Aids in Liver Health

Coconut oil also guards against any damage to the liver, and also aids in curing urinary tract infections.

6. Boosts Energy

Unrefined coconut oil also hikes energy and endurance, primarily by its MCFA’s shooting directly into the liver, which enables to be converted into energy.

7. Aids with Digestion

Another benefit of coconut oil – it helps with food digestion by aid the body take in fat-soluble components like vitamins and magnesium. It also eliminates toxic bacteria and candida, which fights poor digestion and stomach inflammation. That helps prevent stomach ulcers.

8. Acts as a Salve for Wounds and Burns

Coconut is good for the skin, especially in the treatment of wounds, burns, and dermatitis. It also acts as sunblock, and as a moisturizer for the skin, thanks to the two primary fatty acids in unrefined coconut oil, caprylic and lauric, and to its antioxidant component, which team up to reduce inflammation under the skin and promote better healing.

9. Acts as an Anti-aging Component

Rich with antioxidants, coconut oil is known to slow the aging process, generally by curbing any undue stress on the liver.

10. Helps With Weight Loss

Coconut oil also can help with weight loss, as it acts as a fat burner and a calorie burner, especially with doses of unrefined coconut oil. It also acts as an appetite suppressant. One study shows that the capric acid in coconut oil helps boost thyroid performance, which in turn reduces a body’s resting heart rate and aids in burning fat for an increased energy boost.

Coconut Oil Risks

Some critics of coconut oil as a health and wellness remedy recommend that users slow their roll before taking in too much coconut oil.

For starters, the bulk of the medical research hasn’t been done on humans, so any conclusions drawn have to be taken with a grain of salt. Additionally, coconut oil is high in calories, and used to excess, could result in weight gain, especially if coupled with a high-calorie diet.

In reality, any risks associated with coconut oil comes down to saturated fats, which are abundant in coconuts. The American Hospital Association recently issued a warning against saturated fats, especially coconut oil. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends keeping saturated fat intake to no more than 6% of one’s total calorie intake.

In general, medical professionals recommend edging away from unsaturated fats and toward unsaturated fats to increase heart health, and to increase healthy food habits.

Ways to Take Coconut Oil

Health advocates who do tout the benefits recommend limiting your daily intake of coconut oil to two tablespoons (30 ml) – that should leave enough room in your diet for additional fat nutrients, like nuts, olive oil, and some fruits.

If you’re taking coconut oil for the first time, start gradually with one tablespoon of coconut oil and work your way up to two tablespoons per day. Ingesting too much coconut oil right off the bat can lead to nausea, consumer advocates warn.

Other coconut oil-linked side effects include headache, dizziness, fatigue, swollen glands, joint or muscle pain, stomach upset, chills, hives or rashes, or other adverse skin conditions.

When taking coconut oil, you have several options, including:

  • Stir-fry. Coconut oil is ideally used in a pan, either via sauté or stir-fry, in a pan with beef, fish, chicken, eggs, or vegetables.
  • Baking. You can also ingest coconut oil by drizzling it on beef, fish or chicken before cooking in the oven. Some health advocates also recommend coconut oil as a substitute for eggs or butter in baking dishes, like curry or vegetable dishes.
  • Add to coffee and tea. You can also add coconut oil to coffee or tea, in moderate amounts (no more than a teaspoon is recommended.)
  • As a supplement. Users can also buy coconut oil, usually in capsule form, at a drug store, health food outlet, grocery store, or online through companies like Amazon.com. A word of warning – coconut oil in capsule forms is only available in minute amounts per capsule. Consequently, to get your daily recommended amount of two tablespoons of coconut oil, opt for taking in as a cooking ingredient in a meal you’re preparing.

Health professionals who tout the benefits of coconut oil recommend avoiding refined doses and instead opt for virgin coconut oil. When storing coconut oil, keep it at room temperature, just as you would virgin olive oil, for best results.

Size of Coconut Oil Market

In 2016, the size of the global coconut oil market stood at $4.6 billion, although sales declined in 2017, as coconut prices rose, and as demand slowed moderately.

The countries where coconut oil is consumed the most include the U.S., Indonesia, and the Philippines, with the latter two countries, along with Mexico and Vietnam, are the largest producers of coconut oil, as of 2017.

Top-selling coconut oils include Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Thrive Market Organic, Ethically-Sourced Virgin Coconut Oil, Dr. Bronner’s whole Kernel Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

14 Benefits of Coconut Oil

You’ve no doubt noticed that coconut oil is on everyone’s lips lately. Quite literally, too, as people are using it in place of Chapstick. You may also be aware that it’s in their frying pans, their smoothies, their hair, and in a little jar on their nightstand. What underlies this oil’s recent adoption by the masses is the sheer benefits of coconut oil for mind, body, and soul that it promises.

And it’s not a marketing spin; a growing body of research shows that adding coconut oil to your diet and your person could be one of the easiest ways to improve your health, well-being, appearance, and even your sex life. Read on to learn about 14 coconut oil benefits and how to incorporate it more in your diet with these coconut oil recipes that will shrink your waist!

1

It helps you lose weight.

A meta-analysis of 13 studies published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) can help you lose weight when they replace long-chain triglycerides (like those from soybean and canola oil) in your diet. A Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology showed that the MCT in coconut oil can increase diet-induced thermogenesis in humans by as much as 6 percent. And yet another study found MCTs to increase 24-hour energy expenditure in humans by as much as 5 percent. Now, burning an extra 100-120 calories per day might not sound like much but over a year, it amounts to at least 36,000 calories. That’s more cals than you’d find in over 10 pounds of dangerous and unsightly belly fat.

2

It kills bacteria.

Around half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. Lauric acid is particularly good at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi; therefore, it’s great in helping you stave off infections when used externally. To get the most potent antibacterial properties, a Journal of Medicinal Food study found virgin coconut oil—rather than refined—to be your best bet.

On the other hand, when you ingest coconut oil, it reacts with enzymes to forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. And guess what? Monolaurin is great for killing harmful pathogens, too! In addition to keeping all kinds of nastiness at bay, both of these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria and very dangerous pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans, which is a common source of yeast infections. The benefits of coconut oil don’t end there, though.

3

It can be used in the bedroom.

There are many life-enhancing uses for coconut oil but one of the most fun results takes place in the bedroom. You’d use it in there for the same reasons that you’d use it in other rooms in the house: It’s yummy, it’s organic, it’s all natural, and it stops things from sticking. I’m talking about sex, people! Not only does coconut oil feel, taste, and smell good when used to add a little flavor to your sex life, but it also happens to be good for you. It’s moisturizing and, as noted above, it’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which means it does a great job at preventing yeast infections—unlike riskier foods like whipped cream. As with any oil, coconut oil shouldn’t be used with latex condoms because it will weaken the latex, resulting in tears, breaks, and potentially children. While you’re slipping the benefits of coconut oil into your sex life, be sure to avoid these foods that mess with your sex drive!

4

It can help you build and maintain muscle.

As mentioned above, MCTs in coconut oil are good for upping your body’s energy expenditure and burning calories. Here’s yet another way this wonder-stuff can help you look better naked. It’s great for building muscle, according to a Diabetes study! MCTs found in coconut are also used in popular muscle-building products like Perfect Keto Protein Powder. But many supplements use processed forms of MCTs. By eating adding actual coconut oil, you’ll benefit from getting your MCTs in their natural and most effective form. Add 1-2 tablespoons of it to a muscle building shake daily to feel the full benefits of coconut oil.

5

Coconut oil curbs appetite.

Scientists suspect that coconut oil’s interesting effect on hunger may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch and had regulated blood sugar, proving that adding the MCT-rich benefits of coconut oil to one’s diet could have a very positive effect on weight and body composition. You can also use a blender to add it to your coffee for a tasty pick-me-up.

6

It helps with memory disorders.

A 2004 study published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging demonstrated that the MCTs found in coconut oil improved the memory problems their older subjects were experiencing. All patients felt the benefits of coconut oil in the study and saw a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking the fatty acid. It’s thought that this is due to MCTs being absorbed more easily in the body. As they can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin, they are able to more efficiently fuel brain cells. This is especially good news for people suffering from cognitive disorders. As the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient has lost the ability to create its own insulin, the ketones from the coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function, the study suggests.

7

It promotes heart health.

Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. That may not sound like a positive but the saturated fats in coconuts work in a different way than those found in animal-derived foods like butter, cream, cheese, and meat. According to an Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine study, coconut oil increases the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in your body. By increasing the HDL in the body and changing the ratio of HDL to LDL, the saturated fat in coconut oil helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

8

It’s a great moisturizer for your skin and hair.

Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin. Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage. If you have dandruff or dry hair, coconut oil is chock full of the fatty acids that can improve these conditions. In fact, a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that coconut oil is the only oil that can prevent hair damage and protein loss because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, which allows it to penetrate inside the hair shaft. Based on the study’s findings, use coconut oil before and after washing your hair to reap the benefits.

9

It improves your oral health.

Ever heard of oil pulling? Well before the invention of toothpaste, the act of swishing oil around the mouth was a method of cleansing the mouth of bacteria and for helping to heal the nasty ravages of periodontal disease. An abundance of MCTs is the reason why coconut oil is one of the many effective oils to pull with. Basically, the oil lifts the bacteria from the surfaces within the mouth and that’s great because removing oral bacteria greatly reduces your risk of disease around your gums. A 2008 study found that oil pulling reduced plaque-causing bacteria. Experts recommend coconut oil pulling 3 times a week for 20 minutes a day to protect your mouth and its valuable contents.

10

It may help balance hormones.

Hormone disruption can cause a litany of problems in men and women. Coconut oil can help in maintaining an important balance of hormones because the lauric acid it contains. A 2012 study conducted in the Philippines has suggested that coconut oil may be an excellent fat to consume during menopause and also may have a positive effect on estrogen levels. Speaking of hormones, check out these foods that switch on your fat-burning hormones.

11

It can reduce the risk of seizures.

Let’s talk about ketones some more because they’re pretty darn interesting. The best known therapeutic application of the ketogenic diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children. This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood. A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has found that this diet can dramatically reduce the occurrence of seizures in epileptic people, even those who haven’t had success with multiple different types of drugs.

12 & 13

It can treat inflammation & arthritis.

An Indian study published in International Immunopharmacology showed that the high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil actually reduced inflammation and healing arthritis more effectively than leading medications. Another study demonstrated that coconut oil harvested with medium (and not high) heat was found to suppress inflammatory cells. It worked as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.

RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.

14

It can aid in treating osteoporosis.

As mentioned above, one if the amazing benefits of coconut oil is that it increases absorption of absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals in the gut. One of those minerals being calcium. An Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine study has found that adding coconut oil to the diet increased bone volume and structure in subjects and decreased bone loss due to osteoporosis.

But osteoporosis isn’t just about calcium: oxidative stress and free radicals are also a cause of the condition. Since coconut oil has such high levels of antioxidants which help fight free radicals, it is a leading natural treatment for the painful and sometimes debilitating condition.

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9 Remarkable Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Last Updated on January 15, 2020

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​Coconut oil is one of the most popular health and beauty products on the market. It can be used for your hair or skin, or even ingested, and is often regarded for its positive medicinal properties.

You have probably seen coconut oil mentioned a lot in the past few years, but you may still be unclear about its health benefits.

If so, in this article you will learn nine ways that regularly using coconut oil can be a great health habit to build. And then we’ll give our recommendation for five coconut oil products you might want to check out.

Let’s get to it!

Side note: If you are looking for an additional motivation to exercise and lose weight, try this app that will pay you for your weight loss efforts (up to $10,000).

Quick Look at Our Top Picks

If you don’t have time to read the entire review, here’s a summary of our favorite virgin coconut oil products:

Best OverallBest OverallViva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Eco-Friendly BrandEco-Friendly BrandNutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Best for CookingBest for CookingNature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Best FlavorBest FlavorIsland Fresh Superior Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Best Liquid FormBest Liquid FormAnjou Coconut Oil, Organic Extra Virgin

1. Coconut oil helps with weight loss.

While it may seem counterintuitive, coconut oil is actually a “weight-loss-friendly” fat because it contains fatty acids that have strong effects on your metabolism. It helps you burn more calories, reduce your appetite, and reduce BMI and waist fat.

Coconut oil is different from other fats that you may eat. While most foods contain long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil has mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized differently than the longer ones. Medium-chain fatty acids go directly to the liver after being digested, where they can be immediately used for energy or transformed into ketone bodies. Additionally, studies have shown that medium-chain fats are not stored as efficiently as other fats.

Coconut oil is also “thermogenic,” which means that eating it can increase your fat burning compared to consuming an equal amount of calories from other fats like olive oil or butter. Studies have shown that this can help you burn up to 120 additional calories per day. It also helps increase the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, which helps you burn more calories and lose weight.

While the weight loss effects of eating coconut oil may be mild overall, it has proven itself to be very effective in helping people lose belly fat. This particular fat surrounds your organs and leads to inflammation, diabetes, and heart disease.

Any type of reduction in this abdominal fat can have major positive impacts on your overall health and longevity. It is also easy to digest when compared to other edible oils, and it boosts thyroid function and supports the health of your endocrine system.

Coconut oil is different from other fats that you may eat. It helps increase your fat burning compared to consuming an equal amount of calories from other fats like olive oil or butter.

2. Coconut oil helps improve heart health.

Coconut oil has been shown to increase levels of good HDL cholesterol and decrease levels of bad LDL cholesterol. This means it will lower your risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. This is also due to the medium-chain triglycerides that are in this oil. These unique saturated fats help with two of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease: obesity and arteriosclerosis.

While obesity alone can damage your heart and increase your risk of cardiovascular issues, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes is arteriosclerosis, which is when your arteries harden and become narrow. Medium-chain triglycerides such as coconut oil help prevent the hardening of your arteries that can lead to these life-threatening health issues.

Swapping out some of the unhealthy oils that people often use when they are cooking (such as vegetable oil or canola oil) with coconut oil is a great way to start living a heart-healthy life. Unlike these other oils, coconut oil actually works with your body to keep everything functioning at its optimal level.

3. Coconut oil helps relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Coconut oil contains fatty acids that help improve the brain function of Alzheimer’s patients. This effect has to do with ketones, which are what your body produces when you convert fat into energy. Your brain uses glucose as a primary source of energy, and in Alzheimer’s disease it has been shown that brain cells have a hard time metabolizing glucose.

However, the ketones that are produced in your body when you digest coconut oil can give you an alternative source of fuel to maintain the nourishment of your brain.

Research is continuing on the benefits of coconut oil for people who are experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. While some of these studies are still in their early phases, many people have provided anecdotal evidence to back up the claims that coconut oil can vastly improve the brain function of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Coconut oil is full of lauric acid, which helps moisturize the skin, reduce eczema symptoms, and prevent hair damage.

4. Coconut oil helps maintain healthy skin and hair.

Applied topically, coconut oil helps moisturize the skin, reduce eczema symptoms, and prevent hair damage. Coconut oil is full of lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that is well-known for its antimicrobial, moisturizing, and hormone-regulating properties. It also has anti-aging and skin-regenerating abilities, and can stimulate the production of collagen in your skin and keep you looking young well into your later years. Further, the vitamin E found in coconut oil protects your skin from sun damage.

When it comes to your hair, coconut oil helps keep it moisturized and prevents it from losing protein when it is damaged through combing. In fact, women living in tropical coastal regions use coconut oil for their hair almost every day. This oil helps your hair grow in a healthy way and gives a shine to your strands. Due to its low molecular weight, coconut oil is able to penetrate your hair shaft and prevent your hair from becoming damaged.

Coconut oil is also used as a hair care oil, and is included as a primary ingredient in various conditioners and creams that are manufactured for dandruff relief. If you have damaged hair, coconut oil works as a great conditioner and will help you regrow healthy hair. It provides your hair with the essential proteins that are required for nourishing and treating damaged hair.

By massaging your head with coconut oil on a regular basis, you can relieve your scalp from dandruff, even if you have a very dry scalp. The best type of coconut oil for healthy hair is organic and extra virgin. You can either apply it directly to your hair and leave it in, or use it as a coconut oil hair mask. All of the fatty acids in coconut oil also make it helpful for treating chapped lips, dry fingers, and brittle nails.

Make coconut oil part of your self-care routine!

5. Coconut oil helps maintain dental health.

The lauric acid in coconut oil helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by attacking the harmful bacteria that leads to these dental issues. Also, oil pulling using coconut oil can help get rid of bad bacteria in your mouth and reduce your risk of periodontal disease, which involves inflammation of the gums.

The main cause of periodontal disease is a build up of plaque and harmful bacteria in your mouth. Research shows that using coconut oil can decrease the build up of plaque on your teeth and help reduce your chances of developing gum disease. One study showed that using coconut oil for oil pulling significantly reduced the amount of plaque buildup and signs of gingivitis in participants who already suffered from plaque-induced gum disease.

Finally, coconut oil kills Streptococcus and Lactobacillus, which are two types of bacteria that are primarily responsible for tooth decay. Coconut oil can fight these bacteria as effectively as chlorhexidine, the active ingredient found in mouthwash. Because of this, coconut oil can help in the prevention of tooth decay and tooth loss.

6. Coconut oil helps strengthens the immune system.

Coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that help improve the immune system. It contains antimicrobial lipids and lauric acid, which can kill various pathogens and help prevent infections.

Coconut is made up of 50% lauric acid, which your body transforms into monolaurin. This antiviral agent fights off several different pathogens and viruses, such as herpes, the flu virus, cytomegalovirus, HIV, listeria, h. pylori, and harmful protozoa like giardia lamblia.

While not all of those viruses may sound familiar, it is just important to note that coconut oil is a helpful tool to keep around as a natural solution for boosting your immune system, and the antiviral properties found in coconut oil have been put through extensive research. Consuming coconut oil on a regular basis can help reduce your chances of contracting a virus or allowing harmful bacteria to invade your body and make you sick.

7. Coconut oil helps reduce inflammation.

Coconut oil also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat arthritis by reducing the inflammation in your muscles and joints. Because of its high lauric acid content, coconut oil reduces the inflammation that causes pain. In fact, studies have found coconut oil extracts to be equally as effective as Indomethacin, which is a popular prescription pain medication.

Many turn to the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil to help with arthritis and to use as a natural source of pain relief. This makes for a low-cost and effective alternative treatment to prescription medications. Applying coconut oil topically helps increase blood supply to joints and reduce pain and swelling. Some even see coconut oil as being useful beyond treating arthritis, for people with other joint conditions, such as fibromyalgia.

Coconut oil is easily digested and improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and helps bad bacteria in the gut.

8. Coconut oil helps improve digestion and gut health.

Coconut oil is one of the most easily digested oils available, which makes it easy for your body to process. The health of your gastrointestinal system is critical to your overall health and well-being. If you suffer from a poorly functioning digestive system, it can lead to many chronic health problems that can interfere with your quality of life. Consuming coconut oil can help prevent these problems.

You have a wide variety of organisms living in your intestines. Some are beneficial to your body, and some aren’t so healthy. When the organisms multiply, the nerves in your intestinal walls have an abnormal reaction, which interferes with proper nutrient absorption and leads to digestive distress such as bloating, constipation, and gas. This leaves you with the inability to absorb many of the nutrients that you are consuming.

Coconut oil improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and helps destroy candida and other bad bacteria in the intestines. This, along with coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory effect, helps prevent stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis.

9. Coconut oil helps improve bone health.

Fats are extremely important when it comes to building healthy bones. Coconut oil in particular improves absorption of calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for strong bones. This, along with the many antioxidants found in coconut oil, helps prevent and treat osteoporosis by increasing bone volume and preventing bone loss.

The improved calcium absorption that occurs by consuming coconut oil helps stop tooth decay and develops strong teeth. When that benefit is combined with increased magnesium absorption, it creates a great benefit for middle-aged women who may begin to suffer from osteoporosis.

Now that you know the benefits of coconut oil, let’s look at some of the top products on the market today.

5 Best Virgin Coconut Oil Products

1. Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

This coconuts used in this oil are pressed within hours of being harvested, which means they are at their freshest point. This oil is unrefined and extracted into a pure oil that maintains all of its original nutrients.

It is not processed at extremely high temperatures, so the natural health benefits that are in the coconuts do not get lost during the manufacturing process. The product is never bleached. Rather, this natural coconut oil is made from sustainably harvested coconuts and naturally extracted.

Each coconut goes through a proprietary cold-press extraction method that not only highlights, but also preserves the natural flavors and vitamins, minerals, and MCTs.

2. Nutiva Organic, Cold-Pressed, Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil

The pure, smooth oil in this product is never deodorized, bleached, or refined. It contains loads of vitamin E, and is meant for both internal and external use. Nutiva Organic uses fresh, sustainably farmed coconuts that are both nourishing and versatile.

This oil is made from organic, non-GMO coconuts that are immediately cold pressed to extract a fresh, creamy, and flavorful coconut oil. The purity and nutrient density of this coconut oil make it a great product to add to your everyday routine for both diet and beauty reasons, and the company’s loyalty to the environment ensures that this product is as good for the earth as it is for your body.

3. Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

This 32-ounce jar of coconut oil serves as a natural source of energy due to the medium-chain fatty acids that are contained in it. Your body uses these to produce energy. This extra virgin coconut oil is certified organic, GMO-free, and free from trans and hydrogenated fats. If you are using this product as a dietary supplement, consume one to four tablespoons each day.

The oil comes in a semi-solid form, but at temperatures above room temperature it will become a clear liquid. The oil has various uses, both in its liquid form and when it is semi-solid. Depending on how you plan to use it, you have the ability to transform its consistency.

4. Island Fresh Superior Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

This coconut oil is creamy and flavorful, and will help nourish your body inside and out. It is cold-pressed, meaning that it keeps the temperature low when the oil is being extracted from the coconut. This also avoids refinement methods. This is a great product to use for oil pulling.

Simply swish one tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach to get the benefits of this practice. You can also apply this oil to your skin or hair for extra moisture. Consumers are especially satisfied with the packaging, quality, aroma, and taste of this particular coconut oil.

5. Anjou Coconut Oil, Organic Extra Virgin

This extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil is sourced from the best coconuts, which come from Sri Lanka. They are picked by hand from traditional coconut trees that are pure bred. To make this oil, the coconuts are mechanically cold pressed and never refined, deodorized, or processed.

All of the health benefits of the coconut are maintained while making this oil so it will give you the radiant health and vitality boost that you are looking for. This product is certified and approved by the USDA, and it is 100% organic, GMO-free, and safe for consumption. This product is often enjoyed by people of all ages both in cooking and for topical use.

Ready to Try Coconut Oil?

If you’re looking for a superfood and health product to incorporate into your diet, or as a natural addition to your beauty care regimen, then you should try one of the five coconut oil products that we just mentioned.

And if you’d like to discover additional ways to improve your lifestyle, then we encourage you to check out these 192 healthy habits.

Finally, if you are looking for an additional motivation to exercise and lose weight, try this app that will pay you for your weight loss efforts (up to $10,000).

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