Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap: it’s a saturated fat, and we all know that saturated fats are bad for us, right? Think again. It turns out that coconut oil can actually help you lose weight, especially those pesky (and particularly unhealthy) pounds around your belly. Not only that, but studies suggest coconut oil can also help decrease inflammation, fight infection, and even protect the brain from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Strange as it seems, coconut oil improves the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream — the exact opposite of how most saturated fats affect the body. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are more easily digested than other types of fat and are not normally stored in fat tissue. Coconut oil is also rich in healthy antioxidants, particularly virgin coconut oil, which is produced without the use of heat or chemicals.
1. Coconut oil is the safest oil to use for cooking. (Note: I do not advocate frying of any kind.) Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it’s the least vulnerable of all the dietary oils to oxidation and the formation of free radicals. Consuming oils that have oxidized because of exposure to high temperatures can lead to many health problems from heart disease to diabetes.
2. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal food. Its super-microbial power comes from the unique fatty acids it contains: lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid. All of these fatty acids demonstrate anti-microbial properties with no harmful or unwanted side effects.
3. Supplementing with virgin coconut oil can help prevent the bone loss that occurs in osteoporosis. Free radicals and oxidative stress are key players in the development of osteoporosis. Antioxidant rich virgin coconut oil can help to fight the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. A recent study shows that supplementing with it helped to maintain bone structure and prevent bone loss in rats. Coconut oil can also improve the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium as well as the fat soluble vitamins, all of which are critical to maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
4. Eating coconut oil provides the body with energy without fat accumulation. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are used by the body to produce energy rather than being stored as fat. Traditional sources of fat in the diet are broken down into individual fatty acids and then regrouped into bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are sent into the bloodstream so that the fatty acids can be deposited into our fat cells.
Medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are used differently in the body. Instead of being packaged into lipoproteins and circulated in the bloodstream, they’re sent directly to the liver where they are converted into energy much like a carbohydrate. These energy producing fats do not raise blood sugar like carbohydrates so they’re good option for diabetics.
5. Coconut oil can boost the metabolism. Coconut oil has a thermogenic or calorie burning effect. This is because the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are easily absorbed by the energy producing organelles of the cells. Studies have shown that after eating a meal containing medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil, the metabolism stays elevated for at least 24 hours! Not only will you be burning calories at a faster rate, you will have more energy.