Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a “superfood.”
Its unique combination of fatty acids can have positive effects on your health.
This includes fat loss, better brain function and various other impressive benefits.
Here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of coconut oil
1. Coconut Oil Contains Fatty Acids With Potent Medicinal Properties
Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most other fats in your diet.
These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. They also raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk.
Most fats in the diet are called long-chain triglycerides, but the fats in coconut oil are known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). What this means is that the fatty acids are shorter than most other fats (1).
When you eat these types of fats, they go straight to the liver, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketones.
Ketones can have powerful benefits for the brain, and are being studied as treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
2. Populations That Eat a Lot of Coconut Oil Are Healthy
Coconut is an exotic food in the Western world, primarily consumed by health conscious people.
However, in some parts of the world, coconut (loaded with coconut oil) is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for many generations.
The best example of such a population is the Tokelauans, which live in the South Pacific.
They used to eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts. When studied, they were found to be in excellent health, with very low rates of heart disease (2).
Another example of a population that ate a lot of coconut and remained in excellent health is the Kitavans (3).
3. Coconut Oil Can Increase Fat Burning
Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world.
While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, others (myself included) believe that the sources of those calories are important too.
It is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. In this regard, a calorie is not a calorie.
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase how many calories you burn compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats (4).
One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, totalling about 120 calories per day (5).
4. Coconut Oil Can Kill Harmful Microorganisms
The 12-carbon lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
When lauric acid is digested, it also forms a substance called monolaurin.
Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi (6).
For example, these substances have been shown to help kill the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (a very dangerous pathogen) and the yeast Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans (7, 8).
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