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!
9 Remarkable Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
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.
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.
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.
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.