Disclaimer: I absolutely love the coconut and all of its plentiful goodness from coconut oil, milk, water, fruit and even the tree’s lovely look. So while this post might be a little biased, the coconut really does have so much to offer, and one of it’s greatest attributes is in its rich oil.
The coconut tree is referred to as the “Tree of Life” in many parts of the world, including the Philippines. It has been given this beautiful name for it’s ability to provide food, shelter and clothing for thousands of years. It is said that virtually every part of the coconut can be used by humans. In 2010, the Philippines produced over 19 million tonnes of coconuts – that’s a lot of coconuts!
Over the last decade, coconut oil has gained lots of attention for it’s proclaimed health benefits. Coconut oil is extracted from the “meat” of a mature coconut. Interestingly, coconut oil was once considered a “bad fat” given the high amount of saturated fat found within the oil. But research has since shown that the saturated fat within the oil, unlike those found in some other types of vegetable oils, is extremely rich in a unique form of fatty acids known as the medium chain triglyceride or MCT. MCTs help the oil remain quite stable and therefore less likely to oxidize even at high temperatures – thus lending it to being an excellent cooking oil!
Here are the top 5 health benefits of coconut oil:
Supports healthy cholesterol levels
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is a specific type of fatty acid, known as a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). MCTs help to support primarily HDL cholesterol formation, aka the “good cholesterol” which contributes towards healthy cholesterol ratios.
Supports a healthy weight
Besides healthy cholesterol formation, MCT oil is easier for the liver to metabolize and supports the breakdown of fat and the burning of energy. Additionally, MCTs are not stored in fat tissue and are easily absorbed due to their smaller size than longer chain triglycerides found in the majority of the dietary fat consumed daily.
Supports healthy skin
Coconut oil is fantastic for the skin as it is rich in natural oils and packed full of Vitamin E and antioxidants. Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it makes a great salve that is easy to apply. Coconut oil also makes a great ointment for the delicate skin of infants and babies, and can be very relaxing when applied after a bath. It has been a staple in my baby care basket from day one.
Supports a healthy mind
The MCTs in coconut oil have been found to boost cognitive performance in older adults, including those suffering from memory impairments such as Alzheimers. One study found that a single dose of 2.7 tablespoons of coconut oil caused an almost immediate improvement in the cognitive function in memory-impaired individuals! This benefit is thought to come from the formation of ketones when coconut oil is metabolized in the liver. Ketones are thought to offer a preferential form of fuel for the memory-impaired brain.
Supports healthy aging
Coconut oil is rich in powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage – one of the mechanisms thought to accelerate aging.
It is recommended that coconut oil be moderately consumed. While studies have not pin-pointed a specific daily dose, the general recommendation is to reap the health benefits of 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily. You might consider adding that to your nutritional shake, or even to your bowl of oatmeal or spread onto your morning toast. Let us know if you have a favourite way of using coconut oil and if you’ve experienced any health benefits!