Coconut oil benefits go beyond what most people realize! Today, there are more than 1500 studies proving coconut oil to be one of the healthiest foods in the world. 1
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the meat or kernel of mature coconuts picked from the coconut palm. It has numerous applications. Due to its high saturated fat content, it’s slow to oxidize and, therefore, resistant to rancidification, lasting up to 6 months at 75 °F (24 °C) without spoiling.
Because of its high levels of saturated fat, United States Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, International College of Nutrition, American Heart Association, Dietitians of Canada, British Nutrition Foundation, and British National Health Service advise against regular intake of coconut oil.
The coconut oil palm is one of the most useful plants in the world. For centuries, cultures in tropical regions have used it for building materials, cosmetics, and last but not least – food. Today, coconut oil is also sold as a great nutritional supplement, which has an amazing range of touted usages, from eliminating lice to treating diabetes. 2
The species Cocos nucifera is native to the coasts of Melanesia and Southeast Asia. Researchers theorize the plant spread on ocean currents to East Africa and India. The Polynesians introduced numerous kinds of the coconut to the Pacific Islands as they moved there 4,500 years ago. Coconut palms can live as long as hundred years, and grow to about 100 feet tall. 3
Depending on the state of maturation of the coconut plant – no less than 12 crops could come out of it. Nectar from unopened flowers could be used to make a syrup that can be further fermented into an alcoholic drink or processed into a sugar. The nut — known as drupe — holds coconut water when the fruit is unripe, though, the water is absorbed as the coconut ripens from green to brown with a shell.
Coconut Oil Benefits
As we mentioned before, coconut oil has so many uses and benefits. Here are the proven health benefits of coconut oil:
- Heart diseases
Some people think that coconut oil is not good for their heart health – but that’s not true. In reality, coconut oil is really beneficial for the heart. It contains around 50% lauric acid that helps in actively preventing numerous heart problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. 4
Coconut oil doesn’t lead to increase in LDL levels and it decreases the incidence of damage and injury to arteries and hence, helps in preventing atherosclerosis. A study submits that consumption of coconut oil can help to maintain healthy lipid profiles in pre-menopausal women. 5
- Hair care
Coconut oil gives your hair a shiny quality and helps in healthy growth of hair. It’s also highly effective in reducing protein loss that can lead to numerous unhealthy or unattractive qualities in your hair. It’s used as hair care oil and is used in manufacturing numerous dandruff relief creams and conditioners. It’s normally applied topically for hair care.
Coconut oil is an effective conditioner and assists the re-growth process of damaged hair. It also provides the important proteins necessary for nourishing and soothing damaged hair. Studies point out that this oil provides better protection to hair from loss caused by hygral fatigue. 6
With regular massage of your head with coconut oil, you may ensure that your scalp is free of dandruff, even if your scalp is constantly dry. It also helps in keeping your scalp and hair free from lice eggs and lice.
- Healing infections
When applied to infected areas, coconut oil creates a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from air, dust, fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Coconut oil is really effective on bruises because it speeds up the soothing process of damaged tissues.
As stated by the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil destroys the viruses that cause SARS, herpes, hepatitis, measles, influenza, and other health risks. It also destroys bacteria that cause throat infections, ulcers, urinary tract infections, gonorrhea, and pneumonia. As a final point, this oil is also effective in the elimination of yeast and fungi that cause thrush, diaper, rash, ringworm, and athlete’s food. 7
Coconut oil can strengthen the immune system due to its great content of antimicrobial lipids, capric acid, caprylic acid, lauric acid, which have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Our body converts lauric acid into monolaurin that research has supported as an excellent way to deal with viruses and bacteria which cause diseases like cytomegalovirus, influenza, herpes, and HIV.
Coconut oil helps in fighting harmful bacteria like helicobacter pylori and listeria monocyte genes, and harmful protozoa like giardia lamblia.
- Weight loss
This oil contains short and medium-chain fatty acids, which help in taking off excessive weight. Studies suggest that coconut oil helps to decrease abdominal obesity in women. It’s also easy to digest and can support the function of the endocrine and thyroid system 8 . Moreover, it increases the metabolic rate of the body by removing stress on the pancreas, thus burning more energy and helping overweight and obese people to lose weight. Therefore, individuals living in tropical coastal areas that use coconut oil regularly as their primary cooking oil are generally not fat, obese, or overweight.
Candida (Systemic Candidiasis) is a terrible disease caused by the uncontrolled and excessive growth of yeast known as Candida Albicans in the stomach. Coconut delivers relief from the inflammation caused by candida, both internally and externally. Its high moisture retaining capacity keeps the skin from cracking or peeling off. Lauric acid, capric acid, caproic acid, Caprylic acid, and myristic acid found in coconut oil help in reducing Candida albicans. 9
Furthermore, unlike some other pharmaceutical cures for candida, the effect of coconut oil is not sudden or drastic – but is gradual – which actually gives the patient an adequate amount of time to get used to the Herxheimer Reactions (symptoms that accompany the body’s rejection of toxins produced during removal of these fungi) or withdrawal symptoms.
However, in the treatment of this condition, individuals should gradually and systematically increase their dosages of coconut oil and should not initially begin with a large quantity.
Coconut oil benefits the skin in many ways. It is an excellent massage oil, which acts as a great moisturizer for all types of skin. Unlike mineral oil, coconut oil does not have any adverse side effect on your skin. Therefore, it’s a safe solution for preventing flaking and dryness of skin. It also delays the sagging of skin and appearance of wrinkles that normally accompany aging.
Moreover, coconut oil assists in preventing certain degenerative diseases, premature aging, because of its powerful antioxidant properties. It can also treat numerous skin problems, including eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and some other skin infections. For that reason, this oil forms the base ingredient of many body care products like creams, lotions, and soaps that are used for skin care. 10
Internal functions of coconut oil take place primarily because of it being used as cooking oil. It can improve the function of the digestive system and hence, prevents numerous stomach and digestion-related issues, including irritable bowel syndrome.
Coconut oil contains saturated fats that have potent antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with numerous bacteria, parasites, and fungi, which can cause indigestion. It also supports the absorption of other nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. 11
Other Health Benefits:
Coconut oil is usually recommended for numerous other benefits that are explained below. Using this oil has been found to mildly help the following:
Coconut oil improves the secretion of insulin and helps in controlling blood sugar. It also promotes the effective use of blood glucose, in this manner preventing and treating diabetes.
Coconut oil helps in preventing gall bladder and kidney diseases. It also aids to dissolve kidneys stones.
The presence of fatty acids and medium chain triglycerides helps in preventing liver diseases due to the fact that those substances are easily transformed into energy when they reach our liver, hence decreasing the workload of the liver and preventing accumulation of fat as well.
- Cancer and HIV
It is thought that coconut oil plays an influential role in reducing an individual’s viral susceptibility for cancer and HIV patients. Preliminary researches have shown an indication of these effects of coconut oil on decreasing the viral load of HIV patients.
Coconut oil is frequently used by body builders, athletes, and by people who are dieting. This is due to the fact that this oil contains fewer calories than many other oils, and its fat content is easily transformed into energy, and it doesn’t lead to accumulation of fat in the arteries and heart. Coconut oil helps increase energy and boost endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes, in general. 12
It is also thought to be useful in preventing and treating pancreatitis.
- Stress relief
Coconut oil is soothing and thus, it helps in eliminating stress. In order to eliminate mental fatigue, apply it to your head and massage it gently. According to studies, virgin coconut oil has antioxidant properties and gives relief from stress. 13
- Dental care
Calcium is a significant component of the teeth. Since this oil facilitates absorption of calcium by our body, it assists in developing strong and healthy teeth. Plus, it stops tooth decay! Research suggests that coconut oil benefits the teeth in many ways – in reducing plaque gingivitis and plaque formation. 14
As we mentioned before, coconut oil can improve the ability of the body to absorb essential minerals. These include magnesium and calcium, which are essential for the development of bones. Therefore, it is really useful to women that are prone to osteoporosis after middle age. 15
Coconut oil and Alzheimer’s disease
The research led by Dr. Newport suggests that the coconut oil is beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this, there is no evidence or traditional knowledge of this oil being used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Actually, it’s not traditionally thought that this oil assists in boosting the brain function in any form. 16 17
Coconut Oil Nutrition Facts
Just like other plant-based oils, coconut oil doesn’t contain cholesterol. The vast majority (over 85%) of the fat in coconut oil is medium-chain triglyceride. The MCFA’s (medium chain fatty acids) found in coconut has remarkable health benefits; they have anti-microbial properties and are easy to for the body to burn as fuel for energy, along with other significant traits.
Coconut oil nutritional value per 100g:
Energy 3,607 kJ (862 kcal)
Vitamin E (1%) 0.09 mg
Vitamin K (0%) 0.5 μg
Iron (0%) 0.04 mg
Units: μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams; IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database 18
Coconut oil Composition:
Coconut oil has 3 unique fatty acids, which are responsible for its numerous benefits:
- Lauric acid (the main contributor, representing up to 40% of the total, followed by caprylic acid, capric acid, palmitic, and myristic acid);
- Caprylic acid (rich in antifungal and antimicrobial properties), and
- Capric acid (which reacts with some enzymes secreted by other bacteria that consequently convert it into a potent antimicrobial agent, called monocaprin).
These are some of the fewest substances found in nature and the reason why coconut oil is truly beneficial. Moreover, about 62 percent of the oils in coconut are made up of the above-stated 3 healthy fatty acids and 91% of the fat in this oil is healthy saturated fat.
As a key component, lauric acid has a specific structure which allows the body to absorb it easily. When absorbed it morphs in monolaurin that is found in human breast milk, and coconut oil and milk. Monolaurin is best known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties.
Additionally, coconut oil contains oleic acid, linoleic acid, myristic acid, phenolic acid, iron, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E.
- Saturated fatty acids: most fatty acids in coconut oil are MCFAs (medium chain triglycerides) that are thought to assimilate well in the systems of the body.
- Unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturated fatty acids – oleic acid, and polyunsaturated fatty acids – linoleic acid.
- Poly-phenols: it contains Gallic acid, known as phenolic acid. The polyphenols in coconut oil are responsible for the taste and the fragrance of coconut oil and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is very rich in this kind of polyphenols.
- Derivatives of fatty acid: polyol esters, monoglycerides, fatty polysorbates, fatty esters, ethoxylates, ethanolamide, and betaines.
- Derivatives of fatty alcohols: fatty alcohol ether sulfate, fatty alcohol sulfate, and fatty chlorides.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin K, Vitamin E, and iron.
Most of the fats that we eat take longer to digest, but the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil deliver the ideal source of energy because they just have to go through a three-step process in order to be turned into fuel vs. some other fats that go through a twenty-six step process!
Unlike LCFAs (long-chain fatty acids) found in plant-based oils, MCFAs are:
- Not readily stored as fat;
- Easier to digest;
- Smaller in size, allowing easier cell porousness for instant energy;
- Are anti-fungal and anti-microbial, and
- Processed by the liver, which means that they are directly converted to energy in place of being stored as fat.
How to Take Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is most effective when around 5 to 10 grams of medium chain triglycerides are included in your diet. This is nearly 7.7 to 15 grams of coconut oil.
You can use coconut oil in cooking, with the proviso that cooking is done below the smoke point of this oil (175°C/350°F).
Substituting other dietary fatty acids with coconut oil could negate potential fat loss effect if the caloric content of this oil is greater than the earlier consumed fatty acids.
Coconut Oil Capsules
One of the latest forms of coconut oil consumption are the capsules. Metropolitan lifestyles and unbelievably tight job schedules barely give us anytime to breathe, use time-consuming health care products, and let alone consume lavish meals. Consequently, everything has started to come in easily portable, manageable, and quickly consumable forms, such as iPods, fast foods, mobile phones, etc….and coconut Oil is no any exception.
Interminably, the effort has been ongoing to make coconut oil available in easily consumable forms, since you could neither carry a bottle or cake of coconut oil with you to your workplace nor will you have the time to gulp down 2 tbsp. full of it, getting the dishes cooked in it, or let alone massaging the body with it. That’s why coconut oil capsules came as great news for those ultra-busy executives who didn’t want to compromise their health. They are easily consumable, portable, and have numerous benefits of coconut oil, if not all of them.
So, let’s learn something more about these valuable capsules.
What Are Coconut Oil Capsules?
Coconut oil capsules are like any other medicinal tablets, pills, or capsules. They contain a concentrated form of coconut oil extract which fills starch capsules. These capsules may or may not contain some other herbal extracts or/and vitamin supplements and medicines. Coconut oil pills can be based on virgin, pure, organic, or refined coconut oil.
Organic coconut oil is available in soft gel form, too. A few corporations trade coconut oil pills and certain companies sell soft gel pills. These companies recommend a daily dose of 4 to 6 capsules or an exact amount directed by GPs. Though, it may be hard to swallow soft gel pills directly. 19
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Capsules
Coconut oil capsules have these benefits:
- dosages could be easily managed – because each has a fixed nutritional value and quantity;
- easily portable and consumable, and
- the soft gel pills release you from the smell and taste of other drugs.
Uses of Coconut Oil Capsules
Coconut oil capsules are good for:
- Treating hair loss
- Treating candida
- Improving metabolism
- Weight loss
- Increasing good cholesterol
- Reducing bad cholesterol
- Fighting microbial infections
- Keeping skin healthy and attractive
- Treating problems in digestion
Cost of Coconut Oil Capsules
In places where this fruit is scarcely available, coconut oil pills can be a great and cheap alternative to actually purchasing and consuming a costly coconut. But, opting for them is surely not a wise decision in some coastal areas, and islands in the Indian subcontinent, and Asia, where pure coconut oil and fresh coconuts are available in plentiful amounts. So, they will cost you more.
Why Do People Demand Coconut Oil Capsules or Pills?
Many people have become habituated to pills and tablets these days. Taking drugs in the form of a pill is quite convenient and time-saving. But then again, does that mean coconut oil should be consumed in the form of pills as well? As consumers, inconsiderately, demand coconut oil pills, principally virgin coconut oil pills, many manufacturers package coconut oil for them in that kind of form.
Nevertheless, as mentioned before, these capsules are great for individuals living only in those places where coconut oil or fresh coconut is scarcely available and costly. Though, I doubt whether the capsules can actually match the quality of a fresh coconut or fresh coconut oil. The reason for that credence is quite simple.
They are highly processed, thus, they lack that pure and natural element of normal oil. The flavor and taste are removed. You might not like the smell and taste of the capsule’s external shell. They will lack various volatile nutrients that actual coconut oil contains, because of the high degree of processing.
You can’t perform massages with the capsules – unlike with coconut oil.
What About Availability?
There are a lot of companies that don’t make coconut oil gel capsules. The answer provided by these corporations is that a daily intake of around 3 tablespoons is recommended by professionals. 1 tbsp., that is around 15 grams. So, if you take coconut oil’s capsules – that generally contain around 500 to 1000 mg coconut oil – you should ingest at least 15 capsules a day to equate to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil – and that’s far too many. Coconut oil capsules are also really costly when compared to coconut oil.
What’s more, the coconut oil capsules are made from animal gelatin. So, if you are a vegan, you should definitely avoid them. Moreover, if you prefer to buy 100 percent organic products, you also have to make sure that the capsules are made from organic animal gelatin. Making soft gel capsules also involves the usage of mineral oil, which isn’t permitted in organic foods, even though there are certain companies that claim to make soft gels without using any mineral oil.
Why Are Coconut Oil Supplements Beneficial?
As we mentioned earlier, coconut oil contains 3 significant fatty acids ( lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid) which prevent diseases. 50% percent of the fatty acids found in this oil are lauric acid – which converts into monolaurin in our body that is responsible for killing viruses and bacteria. The only source of lauric acid besides this oil is from a breast milk, according to Dr. Jon K. Kabara, author of the book “Fats are Good for You and Other Secrets” and scientist on lipids at the University of Michigan. In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, he discovered that fatty acids, including capric and lauric acids, have adverse effects on some microorganisms lying stagnant in our body.
The saturated fat in coconut oil is referred to as medium chain triglycerides – meaning that the saturated fat chain is quite shorter than the one of animal fats. Our bodies handle the medium chain fat in a good way. Medium chain triglycerides metabolize rapidly and won’t store as fat.
Caprylic acid assists in digestion by balancing the bacteria in the gut. Monolaurin also prevents arteries from clogging, hence, helping in the prevention of heart disease, according to Dr. Weston Price.
Supplements Vs. Oil From the Jar
There are certain benefits of taking a coconut oil supplement as opposed to taking the oil straight from a glass jar. The coconut oil has a specific flavor and may be distasteful. Unlike many fish oil supplements, the supplement offers no aftertaste. Likewise, capsules take up very little space and are easy to transport. The capsules are suitable for travel. Although the oil from the jar is great for cooking – it could harden when in a cool place and become tough to scoop out.
Dosage must be carefully monitored. It’s wise, to begin with, a small amount.
A good fast source of energy for athletes is 1 tbsp. More than that may upset the stomach. 10 grams daily are good for optimal health.
There are some factors to look for when buying coconut oil in a supplement form. The capsule must be free of lubricants and additives. Easily absorbed capsules and the organic label will ensure quality. It’s also helpful to know the manufacturing process and the source of the oil.
Buying Coconut Oil
There are mainly 6 varieties of coconut oil: virgin, pure, organic, fractionated, refined, and extra virgin (which is most debated form as there are no criteria on virginity and it’s uncertain as to what qualifies as extra virgin oil). Therefore, when you want to purchase coconut oil, at the outset, you need to decide where you are going to use it and why you need it. Your choice must be based on your needs, like whether you want it for edible purpose or as a carrier oil to be used in aromatherapy, for weight loss, for massage, or for medicinal purposes. Here is a list of such purposes and the variety of coconut oil to purchase.
Purpose————–Preferable Type to Buy
Good Health———-Virgin, Organic
As a Carrier Oil——-Virgin, Fractionated
Medicinal uses——–Virgin, Virgin Organic
Moreover, before you buy coconut oil – keep in mind that for therapeutic and edible uses, refined oil is the best as it’s clean and hygienic. Unrefined oil is great for external applications like skin care and hair care.
Ask Your Health Tube:
Adrien Ross, reader: I don’t like the taste of coconut oil. So, what should I do?
Victoria, Your Health Tuber: Try using coconut oil in a variety of different recipes. Though, if you get nauseated after consuming it, don’t force yourself to consume it. As could happen with any food, your body might be allergic to coconut oil and it’s best not to eat it.
Emily Broner, reader: Where to buy from?
Victoria, Your Health Tuber: Refined and pure coconut oils are available in most grocery stores, particularly in tropical countries. But, for some other varieties, you may need to search in larger drug stores or department stores. In countries which don’t produce coconut oil, like most of Europe, Canada, and the US, you will need to visit large grocers or markets in localities which have higher populations of people from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, coastal Africa, and India. Obviously, you can order coconut oil online too and have it delivered wherever you live.
Tomas Steffey, reader: Which brand to buy?
Victoria, Your Health Tuber: When you are purchasing coconut oil, go for the reputable and reliable brands. Read the content carefully and remember to check the manufacturing date (even though coconut oil has a long shelf life – fresher is always better).
Hellen Maria Davidson: Is coconut oil safe?
Victoria, Your Health Tuber: Coconut oil is a safe supplement. In 1975, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined this oil to be safe. According to the health department, coconut oil is generally safe when applied to the skin or eaten. Though, there are a few exceptions. Individuals who have kidney problems, dehydration, or cholera, should avoid coconut oil. And persons with high cholesterol must use it cautiously. Coconut oil may cause low blood pressure, so you need to be careful if you use it as a supplement alongside some other herbs, drugs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.
As a nutritionist, I always advise my clients to avoid consuming coconut oil if they consume Spirulina supplements in the same period of time. Coconut oil may interact with cholesterol-lowering agents, too.
Refined Coconut Oil Vs. Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
In order to gain the numerous benefits of coconut oil, it’s essential to pick out unrefined coconut oil, if possible produced from a “wet-milling” method. This oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat – instead of dried one.
Organic refined coconut oil is then separated from the water, through boiling, centrifuge, refrigeration, or fermentation. Fermentation is the preferred process to ensure that the oil retains its natural health benefits.
Unlike olive, coconut oil is thermally firm, and the antioxidants aren’t lost through the heating procedure. Various studies conducted in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and some other countries where coconut is native have found that the wet-milling fermentation process followed by “extracted virgin coconut oil” produces the greatest level of antioxidants and decrease “bad” cholesterol while improving “good” cholesterol.
Even though the heat method might seem counter-intuitive based on what we already know about heating and the obliteration of nutrients, this oil reacts in a different way to heat than other foods. For instance, the case with damaging GMO oils is typically the opposite; these oils have been frenzied to the point of oxidizing and becoming poisonous.
Virgin coconut oil which is produced with heat, results in the greatest number of antioxidants, according to a research published in Food Science and Biotechnology. Scientists believe that this may be because of the release of polyphenols from the bound structure.
Refined coconut oil is void of the flavor and it has a higher smoke point. This coconut oil is mass-produced, commonly through a chemical distillation process which starts with desiccated coconut that isn’t fresh. The coconuts are then peroxided and deodorized in order to make them “more pleasant” to the consumers.
Moreover, certain refined coconut oils are hydrogenated that turns these healthy organic oils, into an artificial trans-fat. In view of that, try to avoid refined coconut oils any time you can.
Coconut oil contains important medium chain triglycerides that are metabolized differently and could have therapeutic effects on certain brain disorders. Many people around the world have thrived for multiple generations consuming huge amounts of coconut fat. The medium chain triglycerides in this oil have been proven to increase calories burned more than 24 hours by as much as five percent, potentially leading to major weight loss over the long term.
The breakdown products and fatty acids in coconut oil can destroy harmful pathogens, possibly helping to prevent various infections. The MCTs in coconut oil can boost blood concentration of ketone bodies – that can help decrease seizures in epileptic children.
Studies in both rats and humans show that coconut oil improves significant risk factors like HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol that can translate to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease 20 21 . Moreover, coconut oil benefits our brain – scientists found that the fatty acids in coconut oil could increase blood levels of ketones, relieving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and supplying energy for the brain cells of people who suffer from this disease.
This oil can be applied topically. Coconut oil benefits the skin and hair as well. It is really effective as a skin moisturizer and can protect against hair damage. Plus, you can use coconut oil as a mild form of mouthwash and sunscreen.