Top 10 Self Help Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is widely marketed as a super food.
The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil may have positive effects on your health, such as boosting fat loss, heart health, and brain function.
Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of coconut oil.
1. Contains healthy fatty acids
Coconut oil is high in certain saturated fats. These fats have different effects in the body compared to most other dietary fats.
The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage your body to burn fat, and they provide quick energy to your body and brain. They also raise HDL (good) cholesterol in your blood, which may help reduce heart disease risk (1).
Most dietary fats are categorized as long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), while coconut oil contains some medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are shorter fatty acid chains.
When you eat MCTs, they tend to go straight to your liver. Your body uses them as a quick source of energy or turns them into ketones.
Ketones can have powerful benefits for your brain, and researchers are studying ketones as a treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions.
2. May boost heart health
Coconut is an uncommon food in the Western world, with health-conscious people being the main consumers.
However, in some parts of the world, coconut - which is loaded with coconut oil - is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for generations.
For example, a 1981 study noted that the population of Tokelau, an island chain in the South Pacific, obtained over 60% of their calories from coconuts. Researchers reported not only good overall health but also very low rates of heart disease.
Kitavan people in Papua New Guinea also eat a lot of coconut, alongside tubers, fruit, and fish, and have a little stroke or heart disease.
3. May encourage fat burning
Obesity is one of the biggest health conditions affecting the Western world today.
While some people think obesity is just a matter of how many calories someone eats, the source of those calories is important, too. Different foods affect your body and hormones in different ways.
The MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories your body burns compared to longer-chain fatty acids.
One study found that eating 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5%.
However, these studies did not specifically look at the effects of coconut oil. They examined the health effects of MCTs, excluding lauric acid, which make up only about 14% of coconut oil.
There's currently no good evidence to say that eating coconut oil itself will increase the number of calories you expend.
Keep in mind that coconut oil is very high in calories and can easily lead to weight gain if eaten in large amounts.
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