Coconut oil has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. In some parts of the world, it plays a central part in the day-to-day diet. In the South Pacific island of Tokelau for instance, coconuts provide over 60% of the daily calorie intake. Tokelauans are also sort of a marvel in medical circles. This because there has never been a single incidence of heart disease reported in the entire population. Recent studies have linked the lack of heart disease among the islanders to the richness of coconut oil in their diet.
However, this is just one of the many amazing benefits of coconut oil. Eating a coconut oil rich diet has also been proved to lower cholesterol, facilitate weight loss, improve body immunity, fight aging, and even fight off pathogens. These benefits have caused some nutritionists to describe coconut oil as a “super food”. Some of the amazing health benefits of a coconut oil diet are discussed below.
One of the cardinal benefits of coconut oil is reducing the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream. There are two attributes of coconut oil which makes it contributes towards cholesterol reduction. However, before getting to that, it is important to understand that there are two types of cholesterol i.e. the high density lipoprotein (HDL) and the low density lipoprotein (LDL). The LDL is what is normally termed as the “bad” cholesterol. It leads to formations of plaques in arteries, leading to conditions such as atherosclerosis which in turn facilitates heart problems. The HDL is normally termed as the “good” cholesterol. It draws the LDL away from the arteries, thus preventing the sort of buildup which leads to heart problems. The HDL cholesterol is thus credited for keeping the heart safe and healthy.
Coconut oil is saturated with HDL cholesterol. This is the first attribute which makes it useful for reducing the “bad” cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. The second attribute is that it is rich in lauric acid. Lauric acid is well known to contribute towards preventing a buildup of LDL cholesterol in the body. These two attributes make coconut oil important for preventing cholesterol-related diseases such as heart disease.
Coconut oil can also play a very important role in weight loss. One of the ways it does this is by facilitating the burning of abdominal fat. In a study carried out in 2009, a group of 40 women between the age of 20 and 40 years was divided into two groups of 20 each. One group was given 30 milligrams (about 2 table spoonfuls) of coconut oil each day as a dietary supplement for a period of 12 weeks. The other group was given 30 milligrams of soybean oil. After the 12 weeks, those given coconut oil had a lower body-mass index (BMI), no sign of dyslipidemia (abnormally high levels of lipids in the body), and a reduced waist circumference (WC). In medical circles, the WC is associated with abdominal fat; therefore, a reduction of WC indicates a reduction in abdominal fat. In fact, the researchers concluded that coconut oil seems to “promote a reduction in abdominal obesity”.
Another way coconut oil promotes weight loss is by increasing the body’s energy expenditure. Coconut oil is rich in a special type of fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats have been proved to increase the body’s rate of metabolism, thus increasing the rate at which it breaks down excess calories. One study showed that consuming 15 to 30 grams of coconut oil per day cased a 5% increase in daily energy expenditure. This totaled up to the body burning up an excess of 120 calories every day. Burning up excess calories means that they do not get stored into the body as fats. Therefore, in the long run, the action of the MCTs in coconut oil can contribute towards weight loss.
Coconut oil can also significantly reduce the frequency with which a person feels hungry. This is again because of the action of MCTs. Studies have shown that MCTs can reduce both appetite, and the frequency by which people feel hungry. In one study, a group of healthy men were given different quantities of MCTs. Those given the highest amounts of MTCs (60 to 80 grams) ended up consuming an average of 256 calories less every day. In another study, men who were given MCT supplements over breakfast were likely to consume up to 37.5% less calories over lunch. When a person consumes less calories over time, they end up losing any excess weight.
Aside from weight loss, coconut oil has been proved to contribute to the health and general wellbeing of the body. First of all, coconut oil is boosts the body’s immune system. It does this because it is has many antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal enzymes such as lauric acid, capylic acid, capric acid and antimicrobial lipids. These make it effective for fighting bacteria and viruses which cause diseases like influenza, herpes, cytomegalovirus, listeria and helicobacter pylori. Secondly, coconut oil improves the digestive system. This not only makes it useful for dealing with conditions like indigestion and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it also ensures that the adequate nutrients needed by the body are duly absorbed in the digestive system. This ensures that the body is well nourished and healthy.
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