What to know about coconut oil?

Coconut oil contains 2.6 percent fewer calories than other fats. It has been said to provide various health benefits.

Here are a few of them:

Increasing “good” cholesterol: A component in coconut oil has been found to give “good” HDL cholesterol “a nudge.”

Controlling blood sugar: It appears to preserve insulin action and insulin resistance in mice.

Reducing stress: It has antistress and antioxidant properties, which could make it useful as an antidepressant, according to research in rodents.

Shiny hair: It makes hair shinier, because it penetrates better than mineral oils.

Healthy skin: It has been found to enhance protective barrier functions and have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin in humans.

Preventing liver disease: It has reversed hepatosteatosis, a type of fatty liver disease, in rodents.

Reducing asthma symptoms: Inhaling coconut oil has helped reduce asthma symptoms in rabbits.

Fighting candida: Coconut oil has reduced colonization with Candida albicans in mice, suggesting it could be a treatment for candida.

Improving satiety: One argument has been that coconut oil leaves people feeling “fuller” after eating, so they will not eat so much. However, other research has shown that this is not the case.

Weight loss: It has reduced obesity and promoted weight loss in mice.

Increases levels of HDL Cholesterol

According to literature from Walter C. Willett, M.D. of Harvard Medical School, coconut oil helps to increase the levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) that aids in improving heart health. However, Willett has advised using coconut oil sparingly as most of the research conducted on coconut oil and its effect on cholesterol levels is based on short-term studies.

Coconut and coconut oil on a wooden table

It is also easy to digest — as compared to other edible oils — and helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, according to a 2011 pilot study conducted by researchers at Universiti Sains, Malaysia, coconut oil increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby, burning more energy and helping obese and overweight people (specifically males) lose weight. However, further research is needed to back up these findings.

Improves Heart Health

A 2016 review study led by Laurene Boateng et al. states that 50 percent of fats found in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as lauric acid. These acids are absorbed easily by the intestine and can be used by the body to produce energy. Further, the MCTs do not participate in the transport or biosynthesis of cholesterol.

In a research study conducted on 116 coronary artery disease patients, it was observed that a diet rich in extra virgin coconut oil led to an increase in good cholesterol levels (HDL cholesterol) and decrease in bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol).

Another study suggests that intake of this oil may help in maintaining healthy lipid profiles in pre-menopausal women.

If you are using coconut oil often, check your cholesterol levels regularly. If you find them increasing, it is better to stop or cut down on it. In any case, consult a professional medical practitioner before you start consuming coconut oil extensively. Never play with your (or someone else’s) heart!

Promotes Weight Loss by Burning Fat

Research from the 2009 journal Lipids suggests that coconut oil appears to be useful for promoting weight loss and in particular for reducing abdominal obesity.

Hair Care

Do you know the reason for the long and shining hair of women in tropical coastal regions? The answer: coconut oil!

Women in tropical, coastal regions of the world use this oil for their hair almost daily. This thick, butter-like oil helps in the healthy growth of your hair and gives a shine to those strands. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that coconut oil is also highly effective in reducing protein loss, which, if unchecked, can lead to various unhealthy qualities in your hair. Due to low molecular weight, it is able to penetrate the hair shaft and prevent hair damage.

This is one of the reasons why it is used as a hair care oil, and in the manufacturing of various conditioners and dandruff-relief creams. The best variety for healthy hair is organic extra virgin coconut oil. Just apply it topically to your hair or use a coconut oil hair mask.

Worried about damaged hair? Again coconut oil is one solution. It is an excellent conditioner and helps the re-growth process of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing and healing damaged hair. Another research study conducted by Ruetsch SB et al., TRI/Princeton indicates that coconut oil provides better protection to hair from damage caused by hygral fatigue.

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