7 Reasons Why Coconut Oil Should Be a Part of Your Life
Coconut oil has been a part of our culture since ages. We not only use it for cooking but also for several home remedies. However, recently, health benefits of coconut oil has been a hot debatable there has been a lot of debate surrounding the. Some of us use coconut oil on a daily basis and swear by its benefits, while others are still sceptical about it. Here we tell you why coconut oil should be in your diet. Read on to know!
People living in tropical countries like India, rely heavily on coconut oil. It has been observed that the use of Coconut oil in cooking provides long term benefits to our health. In various parts of the world, populations have lived for multiple generations eating massive amounts of coconut (and its oil) and were in excellent health condition, with very low rates of heart disease.
Here are the 6 reasons why coconut oil should be in your diet!
Is great for Cooking
Most vegetable oils and modern oils have high amounts of unsaturated fats. When we cook with them, unsaturated fatty acids break down at high heat (get damaged) and create free radicals. Free radicals lead to inflammation in the body and are the root cause of most diseases including heart disease and diabetes. However, coconut oil has nearly 85% saturated fat. Cooking with saturated fats does not damage them. Saturated fatty acids stay pretty much unharmed at high temperatures due to their stable chemical structure. The high concentration of saturated fats in coconut oil makes it suitable for long storage without deterioration.
We usually consider oils like olive oil and flaxseed oil as healthy since they are rich in Omega 3. However, these are not good for cooking as heating would break these oils without giving any benefit for which they are actually consumed.
On the other hand, Coconut oil is one of the best sources of medium chain fatty acids. You can use coconut oil for cooking or have it raw. Due to the presence of high amount of lauric acid, coconut oil is highly resistant to oxidation, even at high heat. For this reason, it is very suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying (quite prevalent in India).
Contains Healthy Fatty Acids
Coconut oil is rich in healthy saturated fats. The fats in coconut oil are mostly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) i.e. 6 to 12 carbon atoms. MCTs are shorter than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) that are found in other fats and oils and more easily metabolized. Absorption and assimilation of MCTs is less complex than LCTs. Furthermore, MCTs do not get stored in the body as fat but are instead utilised immediately.
As per studies, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress decreased more in people who consumed coconut oil compared to those who consumed other oils.
One of the major MCTs in coconut oil called lauric acid (makes up about 45% of its fatty acids) has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help maintain a healthy gut flora and immune system. It also good for heart health as it improves the HDL to LDL ratio and reduces blood pressure. In studies it has been seen that people who regularly consume coconut oil generally do not have high cholesterol or other heart issues.
Other MCTs in coconut oil are capric acid and caprylic acid, which are more potent MCTs compared to lauric acid due to lower carbon atoms. These are used to make MCT oils, used heavily in ketogenic diets as they produce ketone bodies which help improve brain function.
Helps Boost Metabolism
Coconut oil helps in improving your metabolism due to the presence of medium chain fatty acids (also called MCTs). MCTs are able to enter the mitochondria to help fats convert to energy and increase the metabolic rate, resulting in a better conversion of food into energy.
The main reason for weight gain could be a sluggish metabolism and if that can improve weight loss would happen faster. People with an under-active thyroid have the issue of a sluggish metabolism and are usually overweight. Coconut oil helps support the thyroid function by improving metabolism (thus keeping weight under control), increasing body temperature and giving a boost to energy levels. Hence it is highly beneficial for individuals with hypothyroidism.
Coconut oil gives you a boost of energy. It’s mostly due to the presence of MCTs and their easy digestability. MCTs help increase metabolism and hence the heating of the body happens. People with chronic fatigue and lethargy, when they consume coconut oil feel a burst of energy. Also, MCTs increase the blood levels of ketones which can have amazing benefits for the brain. Studies are underway on the usefulness of MCTs for the treatment of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.
In Alzheimer’s there is a reduced ability to use glucose for energy in certain parts of the brain. Preliminary studies suggest that ketones can provide an alternate source of energy for these malfunctioning brain-cells and can also prevent memory loss.
In summary, coconut oil can boost calorie burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy.
Helps you loose weight and fat
Coconut oil is rich in MCTs, whose metabolism is different than the LCTs. After consumption, these go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are either used for energy instantly or turned into ketone bodies. Thus, it does not get stored as fat in the body. Further, MCTs increase our metabolism and promotes thermogenesis i.e. the breakdown of stored fats into energy as energy expenditure increases. Studies confirm that when humans replace their regular fats with MCT fats, they burn more calories. Also, due to the effect of ketone bodies, MCTs increase feelings of fullness and lead to a reduction in overall calorie intake.
All of the above properties of coconut oil help in weight and fat loss, especially the harmful abdominal or visceral fat.
Enhances Skin and Hair Health
One of the best things you can use on your skin and hair is coconut oil. Coconut oil is the best massage oil and we can infuse it with different herbs and spices for various benefits. You can also apply it directly on the skin. It helps in the reduction of wrinkles and provides a natural glow to the skin. You can apply it on rashes, dry skin and it also provides temporary relief from burns too. Studies have shown that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of the skin and also acts as a less-potent sunscreen.
Coconut oil is a wonderful conditioner for your hair and also helps reduce frizziness. When infused with aloe vera and onion it acts as an excellent hair growth stimulator.
Fights Free Radicals
Coconut oil is a natural free radical fighter (anti-oxidant). Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to our cells and DNA in a process called oxidative stress. Free radical damage can lead to diseases like cancer and arthritis. Consuming coconut oil helps in breaking the chains of free radicals that form over time and makes it easier for the body to get rid of these faster.
Most plant oils get oxidised (turn rancid) easily during processing, storage or cooking, producing harmful free radicals. Coconut oil, however, does not turn rancid easily due to its high saturated fat content. It can remain intact for at least a year at room temperature. It also has a high smoke point making it suitable for high heat cooking without creating free radicals. Additionally, as it helps absorb Vitamin E and other fat soluble vitamins in the body, it helps in fighting free radicals effectively.
Studies have shown that coconut oil increases antioxidant enzymes in the body that help in preventing oxidative stress. It has been found helpful in the treatment of cancer, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and gastric ulcers among others. People suffering from arthritis may consume it with turmeric. Turmeric helps fight inflammation and coconut oil helps prevent damage and pain in the tissues. A massage with coconut oil also helps in lubricating the stiff joints in arthritis.
However, be aware that a lot of varieties of coconut oil are available. Refined coconut oils are highly processed usually and one must avoid these. Virgin coconut oil is the best form of this oil to consume. It is made by extracting milk from coconut flesh and has the most nutrients.
Coconut oil has health benefits that most other oils do not. So it must form a part of your diet. The benefits of coconut oil for internal use and external use are many. Now that you know about the enormous benefits of coconut oil, try and include it in your daily diet. One way to include it would be in warm water with 1-1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp coconut oil first thing in the morning. It is also beneficial for constipation. You can use coconut oil in the cooking process or consume 1 tsp before lunch and dinner which can help in curbing the appetite.
Make health a habit!!