Coconut oil was originally heavily ostracized by the health community due to its relatively high saturated fat content. However, closer inspection has shown that the saturated fat in coconut oil differs from the saturated fat often found in animal products, which is primarily comprised of long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil contains a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids, which are harder for the body to convert into stored fat and easier to burn off than long-chain fatty acids or triglycerides. Recently, there has been a boon in popularity of coconut oil and it has been lauded for its many uses. So what are these benefits and how can you add them to your daily health regimen?
Good for Cooking and for Skin
Among its many applications, coconut oil can be used for cooking. In fact, research has shown coconut oil to be a better choice over soybean oil and corn oil. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that 94% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified and may be nutritionally deficient. Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, is extracted from fresh, ripe coconuts. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, virgin coconut oil has no sugar, carbohydrates, or cholesterol; and it contains phenolic compounds that may provide antioxidant support.
Besides being used for cooking, coconut oil has also gained a reputation for supporting healthy skin. A 2013 study in the Journal of International Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil improved skin barrier function in people dealing with certain skin concerns. It helps create smooth, soft skin by retaining moisture content because its fat content is able to eliminate moisture loss through the pores. If skin support wasn’t enough, coconut oil can be used in hair care. Its texture and antioxidant properties can promote healthy, smooth hair that possesses a natural shine.
A New Way to Boost Heart Health and Weight Management
The same properties that make coconut oil good for cooking apply to its ability to support weight management and heart health. Hydrogenated saturated fats are known to raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL). However, virgin coconut oil can help increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Coconut oil is also said to help decrease appetite and increase fat burning. Evidence points to its effectiveness at targeting abdominal fat. A recent clinical study involving women with excess abdominal fat who took coconut oil every day found that coconut oil consumption led to a significant reduction in both body mass index and waist circumference within a 12-week period. Another study on overweight males also showed a similar reduction in waist circumference after four weeks of daily coconut oil use.
The Evidence Is In
Research continues to grow about the multiple health benefits of coconut oil. From beauty care to weight management to cholesterol health, coconut oil is a multifaceted product to turn to for many of your daily wellness needs.