Coconut oil has quickly become a household favourite, and it’s not surprising when you learn about its many health benefits. Solid at room temperature, this white oil is a popular choice for replacing butter or margarine in recipes (especially for vegans) and if you don’t mind the mild coconut flavour, it’s great for stirfries, curries, and even baked goods.
However, there are SO many health benefits associated with consuming coconut oil, here are some we’ve put together for you.
Coconut oil is known to be anti-bacterial, is excellent for cuts and scrapes, soothes after-shave burn and stops those annoying little red bumps from appearing. It is a great anti-viral and anti-inflammatory; it is beneficial for the heart, skin, for maintaining a healthy weight; and now a study has found that it may be able to treat stress and anxiety — with more success than drugs.
A study published in the Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine journal showed that pure virgin coconut oil had a much greater success rate in treating stress-related symptoms than a widely-prescribed anxiety medication called Diazepam when tested on groups of mice.
And while Diazepam can cause side effects such as memory problems, drowsiness, nausea and blurred vision, there are no risks associated with coconut oil use. Even better, coconut oil acts as a preventative to protect from neurological damage, among its other health benefits.
Researchers attributed virgin coconut oil’s (VCO) success to its high content of unique medium chain fatty acids, as well as its antioxidants.
They concluded: “The present study demonstrated the potential of VCO in preventing exercise- and chronic cold restraint stress-induced damage and restoring the antioxidant balance. This promising anti stress activity may be attributed to the polyphenols and medium-chain fatty acids present in VCO.”
The role of antioxidants is showing to be huge in treating anxiety, stress, and even depression. Recently many doctors began to link mood disorders with inflammation, and antioxidants are needed to fight it.
People who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) of too many processed foods don’t get enough antioxidants that are commonly found in fresh fruit and vegetables, but the good news is that adding a few teaspoons of high quality coconut oil each day can make a dramatic difference.
Coconut oil is the world’s most weight loss friendly fat. It contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful effects on metabolism. Several studies show that just by adding coconut oil to your diet, you can lose fat, especially the “dangerous” fat in the abdominal cavity.
The thing with these medium chain fatty acids, is that they are metabolized differently than the longer chain fats. They are sent straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are either used for energy right away or turned into ketone bodies.
There is also some evidence from animal studies that medium chain fats are stored less efficiently than other fats.
In one study, rats were overfed with either long chain or medium chain fats. The rats fed the medium chain fats gained 20% less weight and 23% less body fat (3).
A calorie is not a calorie. Different foods and macronutrients go through different metabolic pathways. The different types of foods we eat can have a huge effect on our hormones and metabolic health. Some metabolic pathways are more efficient than others and some foods require more energy to digest and metabolize.
One important property of coconut oil is that it is “thermogenic” – eating it tends to increase energy expenditure (fat burning) compared to the same amount of calories from other fats (4).
In one study, 15-30 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) of medium chain fats per day increased energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day (5).
Several other studies confirm these findings. When humans replace the fats they are eating with MCT fats, they burn more calories (6).
Therefore, a calorie from coconut oil is NOT the same as a calorie from olive oil or butter (although these fats are perfectly healthy too).
Anything that reduces our appetite can make us take in fewer calories without having to think about it. It appears that coconut oil has this effect.
Many studies on medium chain fatty acids show that, compared to the same amount of calories from other fats, they increase feelings of fullness and lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake (7).
This may be related to the way these fats are metabolized. It is well known that ketone bodies (which the liver produces when you eat coconut oil) can have a powerful appetite reducing effect (8, 9, 10).
Whatever the mechanism is, it works. In one study of 6 healthy men, eating a high amount of MCTs caused them to automatically eat 256 fewer calories per day (11).
So… coconut oil boosts fat burning (increases “calories out”) and it also reduces the appetite (reduces “calories in”).
Dr. Kelly Brogan from New York City, and the author of the book “A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives” believes inflammation to be a huge cause of mood disorders, and recommends 1-2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil a day to reduce inflammation in your brain, which will aid in treating depression or anxiety.
Virgin or cold-pressed unrefined coconut oil is the least processed coconut oil, therefore the best option. It will contain no additives, and retains all the natural nutrients.
For the best health benefits, you should use the most pure quality virgin coconut oil from trusted sources, such as BR Naturals.