Pure coconut oil is extracted from the nut of the coconut palm tree which is found in tropical countries and climates. It is a natural source of essential fatty acids. It is high in both saturated fat and in calories and contains a healthy saturated fatty acid known as lauric acid.
Because coconut oil is derived from plants, it is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
Unlike other oils, coconut oil is a solid form and only becomes an oil when warmed. It has a higher heat threshold than other oils and so it will not oxidize and become rancid.
Not all coconut oils are created equal. Pure virgin coconut oil offers a variety of health benefits. However, partially hydrogenated coconut oil and refined coconut oil have been processed. These are not the same as pure virgin coconut oil and do not offer the same health benefits. Be sure to read the label and only buy virgin coconut oil.
Coconut Oil in the kitchen
Coconut oil has a multitude of uses in the kitchen. You can use it when cooking at high temperatures to add flavor and to keep foods from sticking to the skillet. Coconut oil is also a substitute for lard, butter or other fats when baking.
You can also use it as a healthy alternative to butter or use it to make a healthy mayonnaise. For example, you can use coconut oil on a baked potato or on popcorn.
Coconut oil benefits skin and hair
Coconut oil is a natural skin moisturizer. When massaged into the skin, coconut oil helps prevent dry, flaky skin. Also, coconut oil has antioxidant properties which help in treating common skin problems such as infections, eczema and dermatitis.
It is found as an ingredient in many skin care products such as soaps, lotions and creams. Coconut oil can also be used as a hair and scalp conditioner.
When used as a hair condition, coconut oil moisturizes the hair shaft and the hair follicle. It can also be used to treat common dry scalp problems such as cradle cap and dandruff.
Coconut oil can strengthen your immune system
Coconut oil helps to protect you from a variety of viruses and bacteria. The body converts the lauric acid found in coconut oil into monolaurin.
Monolaurin is a well-known and researched natural fatty acid that is known to boost immunity. In fact, monolaurin is a key compound found in breast milk, which helps pass the mother’s immunity onto the child.
Monolaurin in coconut oil also:
- Protects the body from different fungi, including those that cause athlete’s foot, thrush and ringworm.
- Kills different viruses. Research shows that the monolaurin in coconut oil is effective in killing the viruses that cause influenza, measles and herpes.
- Neutralizes the bacteria which cause throat infections, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.
- Shields body from germs, dust, dirt, bacteria. You can spread a thin layer of coconut oil on a wound to keep germs out.
Coconut oil aids in fat loss
Coconut oil is a saturated fat. However, it contains short and medium-chain fatty acids. These types of fatty chains are easier for your body to digest and harder for your body to store as fat.
Also, research indicates eating short and medium-chain fatty acids aid in abdominal fat loss. These type of fatty acids also take longer to digest, making you feel full for longer which may reduce the amount of calories you consume through the day. In fact, one research study involving 40 women found that taking coconut oil as a supplement reduced women’s waist lines.
Coconut oil is also easier to digest than other types of fats and increases the metabolism.
Those societies around the world which include coconut oil as a dietary stable, such as the Philippines, have much fewer health and weight problems than other populations that consume too much of the wrong types of fat.
The effect of Coconut Oil on Alzheimer’s
Research is ongoing on the efficacy of coconut oil as a non-pharmaceutical treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The ketones in the coconut oil may be beneficial to these patients.
In one study, researchers found that giving patients with Alzheimer’s disease a small amount of coconut oil resulted in a statistically significant positive influence in their cognition as compared to those who did not take the coconut oil.
More research is needed and more studies are being conducted to determine what effects coconut oil has on dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Who may benefit from using Coconut oil?
Many people may want to try coconut oil in their diet especially those wanting to:
- Strengthen their immunity
- Lose fat
- Maintain healthy skin and hair
Does Coconut Oil have any side effects?
Side effects from ingesting coconut oil or using it topically are rare.
Coconut Oil interactions and combinations
There are no documented interactions between coconut oil and any medications.
Coconut Oil dosage recommendations
When consuming pure coconut oil, you have to be aware of how much you are consuming due to the high calorie count. There are 117 calories in a tablespoon or 13,6 grams of coconut oil. The recommended daily intake of any fat is 70 grams. You may want to adjust this amount when trying to lose or gain weight.