Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and it can help to reduce dry and cracked skin. As a component of a healthy diet, this unique oil is still considered somewhat outlandish by many westerners. The benefits of adding it to your diet are numerous and potentially life changing. Parts of the world, such as the South Pacific have used coconut as a staple of their diets for many years. In the Tokelauan population, there is no indication of heart disease in spite of steady consumption of the saturated fats in coconuts.
What makes coconut oil unique is its combination of fatty acids rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that are easily absorbed in your body and perform a variety of essential functions. Chief among these is lauric acid, which is also produced in mother’s milk. The oil also includes polyunsaturated fat in the form of lineloic acid and polyunsaturated fats as oleic acid. In addition, coconut oil supplies vitamin E, providing a natural lubricant and protectant for the skin. Also present is vitamin K, essential for blood clotting, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
One of the key benefits of coconut oil relates to the ability of the body to absorb MCTs easily. This process can speed the expenditure of energy, which boosts the metabolism. The result is you burn more fat as you consume coconut oil. The effect of this appears more pronounced on the more dangerous fat in your abdomen and clumped around organs. Remarkably, good results in loss of this fat occurred without adding any new exercise regimens to test subjects. When the liver processes the fatty acids in the oil it produces ketones, which can be used as a fuel source and leave you feeling satisfied. This reduces your appetite, which further supports weight loss initiatives.
The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil and lauric acid in particular, also provide significant antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties to protect the body against a variety of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. Even bacteria resistant to some antibiotics are suppressed by the oil. This therapeutic effect extends to the bloodstream as well, where MCTs improve cholesterol levels and blood flow, which may lower the risk of heart disease.
The ketones created by the liver from MCTs are also shown to reduce the risk of epileptic seizures in children. These ketones in the bloodstream supply energy to the brain and support synaptic activity. Too much glucose destroys brain cells whereas ketones stimulate brain cell health and growth. This has shown to have an immediate effect on patients with mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease and is believed to be a key component in supporting brain health and cognitive function.
One of the first ways you can start to use coconut oil, preferably unrefined or virgin oil, is in frying and baking foods that call for oils or butter. The oil has a relatively high smoke point, which makes it a good match for cooking. You can also use a teaspoon of it on baked sweet potatoes and vegetables instead of butter. If you eat steel-cut or rolled oats or a yogurt smoothie for breakfast, add a spoonful into the mix as well. Soups, stews and curries can also be enhanced with a spoonful of this beneficial oil.