By Shane Young | March 2, 2015 |
Okay, I’ll admit it: I am completely crazy for coconut oil. From cooking to coffee and everywhere in between, I’m often found dipping into a jar for the most unlikely reasons. At first, I wasn’t convinced about using it in my cooking (and everywhere else), however, after about three different tries, I was hooked.
Plus, more than 90% of coconut oil is comprised of saturated fats which makes it perfect for high temperature cooking. A couple of eggs fried in coconut oil in the morning… delicious and energy sustaining– the perfect combination.
It’s really no surprise that coconut oil has recently taken our health conscious kitchens by storm since populations who consume coconuts are some of the healthiest on the planet. It’s used extensively throughout tropical countries such as India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand and was actually quite popular in the United States and Canada until the 1970s when the corn and soy industries incited a widespread propaganda campaign against its use. Food manufacturers abandoned coconut oil in favor of hydrogenated oils that came from corn and soy crops which were subsidized by the government.
Many Americans were also misled to believe coconut oil was harmful due to its high saturated fat content. How convenient! However, recent research shows that saturated fats are harmless and the whole notion that they cause arterial clogging is a myth.
Coconut oil has seen a resurgence and increase in popularity due to its “superfood” qualities and association with longevity and vitality. In this post, I explore 10 health benefits of coconut oil and stay tuned for some delicious recipes using this incredibly versatile food. You should incorporate coconut oil into your everyday food, nutrition, and wellness routines because it:
- Increases and sustains energy
This is so important for all of us! As busy adults who also adhere to rigorous workout regimens, eating nutritious meals that help increase and sustain energy is absolutely integral. Coconut oil stimulates thyroid function which results in increased energy and productivity. This explains why athletes and fitness trainers have started incorporating coconut oil into more foods to bolster energy without the use of drugs or stimulants.
- Fights infection
The lauric acid in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. And, coconut oil can be applied topically (on the skin) to kill germs and expedite healing. I always apply it to minor scrapes and burns due to its antimicrobial properties and it really is magical!
- Promotes healthy brain function
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients have witnessed short-term benefits from consuming coconut oil. The research supports the idea that ketones, byproducts of fat breakdown in the body, play an essential role in optimal brain health and functioning. By boosting ketones which are found in coconut oil, we can improve cognitive health. Sounds good to me!
- Improves cholesterol
Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA or MCTs) which protect against heart attacks and strokes and may lower the risk of heart disease. Although coconut oil is comprised mainly of saturated fats, it doesn’t have a negative effect on cholesterol as it tends to increase good HDL cholesterol which helps support healthy heart functioning.
- Regulates thyroid function and blood sugar
Coconut oil supports thyroid function, increases energy, and boosts metabolism. The liver quickly processes the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil without an insulin spike which helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Aids in weight loss
Coconut oil is commonly referred to the “world’s most friendly weight loss fat” because it contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful effects on metabolism. By adding coconut oil to your daily routine, you can reduce the amount of dangerous abdominal fat that lodges in the abdominal cavity around your organs.
- Promotes skin health
Coconut oil can also be used in a variety of ways that have nothing to do with actually eating it. Individuals with dry skin can use coconut oil to improve moisture and lipid content and it can also be used as a mild sun protectant as it blocks nearly 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Repairs damaged hair
Apply a small amount of coconut oil to your roots and scalp to help alleviate dry, damaged hair. It restores the integrity of hair and provides a protective layer to help combat the damaging effects of sun, wind, and cold weather.
- Promotes oral health
So this is interesting and something I think I may try. You can actually use coconut oil in its solidified form like mouthwash in a process called oil pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health, and reduce bad breath.
- Supports a healthy immune system
Coconut oil supports a healthy immune system because it wards off disease-causing bacteria, yeast, fungus, and viruses. It can also reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair and healing. Pretty cool stuff!