Coconut oil has become very popular in alternative health circles, despite the fact that for many years it was considered a "bad" fat due to its high saturated fat content. However, it turns out that the saturated fat in coconut oil, especially virgin coconut oil, is not the same as the saturated fat in other oils. It contains medium-chain fatty acids which are much easier on the body than the long chain fatty acids found in many other cooking oils. It also contains several compounds that are good for your health, including caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid.
Not just any coconut oil will do, however. Many brands process the oil at high temperatures, which removes some of the benefits that are available. All of the early studies that found negative effects of coconut oil on cholesterol levels were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, whereas unprocessed, virgin coconut oil appears to have positive health effects.
Here are 10 health benefits of virgin coconut oil.
Immune System Support
Consuming coconut oil may help to fight off disease and illness thanks to its antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. If you're battling any kind of virus or infection, try taking coconut oil.
Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, several studies have found that eating virgin coconut oil does not have adverse effects upon the heart. On the contrary, it appears to reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart attack. Earlier studies done on coconut oil that found it caused high cholesterol were done using partially hydrogenated coconut oil and not virgin coconut oil and the studies were done on animals, not humans.
Researchers found that Polynesians in the Cook Islands whose diet is extremely high in coconut oil have low cholesterol levels and a very low incidence of heart attack compared to people in the rest of New Zealand who do not consume as much coconut oil. In Sri Lanka, a study found that the incidence of heart attack has risen as the consumption of coconut oil has gone down.
Many people believe that consuming extra virgin coconut oil can help with the symptoms of hypothyroidism. While scientific evidence is conflicting in this regard, many people with hypothyroidism have successfully improved or even reversed their hypothyroidism and have been able to stop taking thyroid medication. Remember that it may not work for everyone and it is important to consult with your doctor before stopping any medications.
One study found that women who took virgin coconut oil every day had a significant reduction in abdominal fat. Even though coconut oil is a type of fat, it may actually help you to lose weight. Because it contains medium chain fatty acids rather than long chain fatty acids like some other commonly used oils, the body uses coconut oil for energy and does not store much of it as fat. In this way, it helps to boost the metabolism.
When applied to wounds and sores, virgin coconut oil may prevent further staph infection. One study found that virgin coconut oil was beneficial in the treatment of atopic dematitis that was colonized withÂ Staphylococcus aureus.
One study on mice found that wounds treated with virgin coconut oil healed faster and showed higher collagen cross-linking than the control group.
Stretch Mark Prevention
In Asia, coconut oil is commonly used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Already have stretch marks? Women have also found that applying coconut oil to stretch marks after they have formed erases the stretch marks or greatly reduces their appearance.
Moisturizing your skin is the key to keeping it youthful and healthy and coconut oil can be used in place of lotion for a healthier moisturizer. When coconut oil is used, it also helps to fight bacteria and other skin problems including rashes, dermatitis, acne, wrinkles, eczema, and psoriasis. If you have an area of skin that is irritated, rub coconut oil on the skin to soothe the inflammation and reduce the symptoms.
Coconut oil can also be used to improve the health of your scalp and hair. One way it helps is by strengthening the strands and reducing protein loss during washing. Try applying a little bit of coconut oil on your hair to brush out tangles or massage a tiny bit on coconut oil on the scalp for a silky, strong, head of hair.
Coconut oil has been found by many people to be beneficial for digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and indigestion. Coconut oil fights unhealthy bacteria in the digestive system and it also assists in nutrient absorption within the body.