Coconut Oil 101: 13 Studies on Coconut Oil and its Health Benefits

Overview

In the recent years, coconut oil (previously shunned by the health and wellness community for its high saturation in fat content) has had a feel of the massive increase in sales and taken the media platforms by storm. Not only can coconut oil be sourced from specialty health food stores, but you can also make your purchase from the local grocers.

Formerly, it was unheard of for most of the households to use coconut oil as staple cooking oil. Of late, manufacturers are using coconut oil in place of other oils in packaged products because it is believed to have beneficial aspects from supporting weight loss to slowing Alzheimer’s disease’s progression. Nonetheless, most organizations such as American Heart Association continually caution consumers of the risks that shadow the use of tropical oils.

Read on to find out more on the controversies that shadow coconut oil and whether it is a worthy inclusion to your recipes or diets!

coconut oil benefits

New and beneficial Coconut Oil Aspects

  • Improves skin health

Coconut oil is powerful massage oil that plays the role of an effective moisturizer for all kinds of skins. Unlike mineral oil that may present adverse effects when applied to the skin, coconut puts you in no exposure to side effects.  Therefore, coconut oil is a safe option for preventing the flaking and dryness of the skin. Also, it helps to reduce age-related sagging of the skin and wrinkles.

Coconut oil is a powerful antioxidant that helps ward off degenerative diseases and premature aging. The various skin problems that coconut oil helps to prevent are dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, as well as other skin infections. For this exact reason, coconut oil is used worldwide as the base ingredient for most of the body care products such as soaps, creams, and lotions.

  • Hair care aspects

Coconut oil supports the healthy growth of hair and ensures that the hair upholds a shiny appeal to it. It also plays a vital role in the reduction of protein loss in the body which leads to the growth of unappealing and unhealthy hair.

Coconut oil is widely used in hair care products (dandruff relief creams and conditioners) and can be applied topically to support hair care. Coconut oil is used extensively in the Indian sub-continent for this purpose. It is a great conditioner which promotes the re-growth of damaged hair, as well as overseeing the provision of the essential proteins necessary for the damaged hair’s nourishment and healing. Studies conducted show that coconut oil protects hair best against damage which hails from hygral fatigue.

  • Improves heart health

There is the misconception that coconut oil is not good for heart health because it constitutes a lot of saturated fats. Coconut oil has 50% lauric acid necessary for preventing high cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

In a randomized clinical study, 30 participants were either subjected to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or 2 tablespoons of soybean oil daily for 14 weeks. The results showed that the soybean oil group had their good cholesterol levels (HDL) go down, and their bad cholesterol levels (LDL) spike. As for the coconut oil group, there were no notable changes in their cholesterol levels but seemingly had higher HDL levels.

Coconut oil does not result in an increase in the LDL levels, and it helps reduce the exposure to atherosclerosis through preventing the incidences of injury | damage to the arteries. Premenopausal women should incorporate coconut oil into their diets and recipes so as to uphold healthy lipid profiles.

  • Supports weight loss

Coconut oil contains short and medium-chain fatty acids necessary for shedding off excessive weight. Research conducted showed that coconut oil helps to reduce abdominal fats in obese women. Also, it is easily digestible and promotes the healthy and effective functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system.

Coconut oil increases the body’s metabolic rate through easing the pancreatic operations thereby burning more energy in an attempt to shed off excessive weight. Therefore, people who live in the tropical coastal climates, and use coconut oil in their diets and recipes are far less likely to be obese.

  • Immunity aspects

Coconut oil helps to strengthen the body’s immune system because it contains antimicrobial lipids, caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid which all have antiviral |antibacterial | antifungal, aspects.

Lauric acid converts into monolaurin in the human body. Research shows that monolaurin is an effective tool to prevent bacterial and viral infections such as herpes and cytomegalovirus.

  • Helps in digestion

Primarily, the internal functions of coconut oil come about from its uses as cooking oil. It helps improve the digestive system and therefore curbs stomach and digestion-related problems, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Coconut oil has saturated fats which have antimicrobial aspects that help to ward off various bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections which result in indigestion.  Also, it helps in the absorption of various minerals, amino acids, and vitamins.

  • Prevents Candida

Systematic Candidiasis, Candida, is a tragic disease which results from the excessive and uncontrolled yeast, Candida Albicans, growth in the stomach. Candida may cause internal and external inflammation, and coconut oil helps to provide relief to these effects.

Coconut oil upholds the skin’s high moisture content to prevent cracking and peeling off. Coconut oil helps to eliminate Candida Albicans through capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, caproic acid, and lauric acid. Unlike other pharmaceutical candida treatments, coconut oil has gradual effects which give the patient ample time to adjust to the withdrawal symptoms. In treating this condition, you should gradually incorporate coconut oil into your diet or recipes rather than just kicking it off with a large quantity.

  • Healing aspects

When applied to the infected areas, research shows that coconut oil forms a chemical layer that protects the infected area from bacteria, fungi, viruses, and external dust. Coconut oil is very effective when applied on bruises as it speeds up the damaged tissues’ healing process.

According to research conducted by the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil helps to kill viruses that cause hepatitis, SARS, herpes, influenza, measles, as well as other health complications.

Coconut oil helps to kill bacteria that cause ulcers, infections of the urinary tract, pneumonia, throat infections, and gonorrhea. Finally, coconut oil efficiently kills fungi and yeast which cause ringworms, diaper rash, thrush, and athlete’s foot.

  • Coconut oil on diabetes

Coconut oil helps in the management of blood sugar levels and improves insulin secretion. Also, it promotes the utilization of blood glucose and consequently helps to prevent as well as treat diabetes.

  • Coconut oil on Alzheimer’s disease

In a study conducted by Dr. Newport, coconut oil showed beneficial aspects in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; though there is no scientific evidence or traditional knowledge, to attest this claim.

  • Coconut Oil on HIV and Cancer

Belief holds that coconut oil plays a vital role in helping the HIV and cancer patients to reduce their viral susceptibility. In a preliminary study conducted, results showed that coconut oil helps reduce the HIV patients’ viral load.

  • Supports dental care

Calcium is an essential constituent of our teeth and coconut oil facilitates calcium absorption by the body. Thus, it boosts the development of strong and healthy teeth as well as warding off tooth decay. In a recent research, coconut oil showed beneficial aspects in reducing plaque-induced gingivitis as well as plaque formation.

  • Use as carrier oil

Carrier oils refer to those oils that easily absorb into the skin to facilitate the absorption of other oils and herbal extracts by the skin. Coconut oil seeps through the skin pores fast and apart from being one of the most stable oils, it doesn’t go rancid. Apparently, nor does it let other oils and herbal extracts, mixed into it, go rancid; it upholds their properties and protects them from fungal and microbial interference.

Nutritional Profile of Coconut Oil

Over 90% of coconut oil is composed of saturated fats as well as traces of unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fatty acids.

  • Saturated fatty acids

Mostly, they are composed of medium chain triglycerides which assimilate in the body system with ease.

  • Lauric acid

It represents more than 40% of the total composition and is the main contributor followed by capric acid, myristic acid, caprylic acid, and palmitic. Lauric acid fights viruses and diseases, and it converts into monolaurin in the human body.

  • Unsaturated fatty acids

Constitutes;

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: – linoleic acid
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: – Oleic acid
  • Poly-phenols

Phenolic acid (Gallic acid) is present in coconut oil. In essence, polyphenols are solely responsible for the taste and fragrance of the coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is rich in these polyphenols.

  • Derivatives of fatty acids

They include; Monoglycerides, fatty polysorbates, ethoxylates, betaines, ethanolamide, polyol esters and fatty esters.

  • Derivatives of fatty alcohols

They include; fatty alcohol sulfate, fatty alcohol ether sulfate, and fatty chlorides.

  • Capric acid

It combines with certain enzymes that are secreted by bacteria to convert it subsequently into monocaprin, a powerful antimicrobial agent

  • Caprylic acid, myristic acid, and caproic acid

These are rich in antimicrobial and antifungal aspects.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Coconut oil has traces of vitamin E. Vitamin K, and of minerals such as iron.

In-depth Nutritional Profile on Coconut Oil

Amount:          100grams

Calories:          862

 % Daily Value *
Total Fat (100g)

Saturated fat (87g)

Polyunsaturated fat (1.8g)

Monounsaturated fat (6g)

153%

435%

Cholesterol (0 mg)0%
Sodium (0 mg) 
Total Carbohydrate (0 g)

           Dietary fiber (0 g)

Sugar (0 g)

0%

0%

 

Protein (0 g)0%
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C0%
Calcium0%
Iron0%
Vitamin D0%
Vitamin B-60%
Vitamin B-120%
Magnesium0%

Purchasing Coconut Oil

Primarily, there are six varieties of coconut oil; they include refined, pure, virgin, organic, fractionated, and extra virgin (the most debated form of coconut oil because of no standards on virginity and it is pretty difficult to determine what qualifies as extra virgin oil).

Before you make your coconut oil purchase;

  • Be sure of why you need the coconut oil.

The choice you settle for should be concurrent to your need. For example, do you want it for edible purposes? Or is it for use as a carrier oil in aromatherapy? Or could it be for massage purposes? Or weight loss and medicinal purposes?

The table below references the type of coconut oil to buy for the intended purpose:

 

PurposePreferable Coconut Oil to Buy
CookingRefined
Weight lossVirgin
MassagingRefined, Pure
Medicinal usesVirgin Organic, Virgin
For use as carrier oilFractionated, Virgin
Good healthOrganic, Virgin

 

  • Be mindful of the edible and therapeutic uses of coconut oil.

In this case, refined coconut oil is the best for edible and therapeutic purposes because it is hygienic and clean. On the other hand, the unrefined oil is best for skin care and hair care purposes.

How to Use and Store Coconut Oil

As compared to other oils, coconut oil has a high boiling point of about 24-25degrees (76-78 Fahrenheit). Therefore, coconut oil retains a solid state at room temperature and only melts with a considerable rise in the temperature. Often, it retains the solid state, and it obviously should be stored in the refrigerator.

If you intend to put your coconut oil to topical use, especially hairs’ care;

  • Melt the oil (if solidified) by placing the oil bottle out in the sun or immersing it in warm water. Also, you can have some of the oil in a small bowl and have it heated over a flame (don’t use the microwave!).
  • Scoop some oil in your palm and spread it on your hair.

If your intent for the coconut oil is for internal consumption purposes, merely replace the vegetable and butter oils you use in your recipes with coconut oil. Note, you don’t have to switch completely to coconut use. Why? You will lose the other benefits that you reap from the traditional oils as well as dairy products.

In the case that you hail from one of the colder countries, your coconut oil is in good and broad containers. However, if the coconut oil is delivered in packs (plastic pouches or tetra-packs), ensure that you store the oil in broad-mouthed and tight-lidded containers, for easier scooping, after you have the pack(s) open. Keep the container lidded, or sealed, to keep the coconut oil out of reach of ants, rodents, and cockroaches.

Possible Coconut Oil Concerns

  • Where do I buy my coconut oil?

Most grocery stores, especially in the tropical countries, have pure and refined coconut oils.  For the other coconut oil varieties, you may have to rummage through the larger department stores, or even in the drug stores. For countries that do not indulge in coconut oil production such as Canada, US, as well as most of the European Countries, consumers have to visit huge grocery stores | big grocers in localities populated by people from Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, India, and coastal Africa. Obviously, you can always make your purchase online and have it delivered to your doorstep or locality.

  • I don’t like the taste of coconut oil. What do I do?

Well, you always can try out a variety of recipes. However, in the case that you get nauseated after incorporating coconut oil into your diet or recipe, do not force yourself to have it incorporated into your diet. Just like any other food item, your body may be allergic to coconut oil, and it is best not to have it consumed under such conditions.

  • Which is the best brand to buy?

Always seek out the reputable and reliable brands when making purchases of coconut oil in packs. Carefully read through all of the contents descriptions, and though coconut oil has a long shelf life, ensure that you double check the manufacturing date.

  • How much will I pay for the coconut oil?

The cost of coconut oil is dependent on some factors;

  • Availability: – In the tropical countries which produce coconut oil, it is seemingly cheaper as compared to countries that do not major in its production. Also, it becomes costlier when orders are made over the phone, or even online.
  • Demand: – coconut oil is cheaper in localities where the demand is high as compared to low-demand regions.
  • Brand: – Different coconut oil brands will have differing quotes for their products.
  • Quantity: – It costs a little less to buy in bulk.
  • Variety: – Refined coconut oil is the cheapest among the available varieties, followed by the fractioned coconut oil, the virgin coconut oil, then the organic coconut oil, and ultimately the most expensive being the organic virgin coconut oils.
  • How much coconut oil do I need to buy?

You only have to buy as much as you can have consumed in few months. Even though coconut oil does not go rancid over a long period, it is not wise to have it unnecessarily stored.  You reap better results with fresh coconut oil as compared to coconut oil stored for a lengthy period.

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