Written by: Cally Worden
A relatively new addition to the ‘Super-Food’ category, coconut oil is made up of a unique combination of fatty acids that can be hugely beneficial to your health. If the hype has left you a little sceptical, here some of the main benefits that have proven to be derived from coconut oil. Time to pop some in your shopping basket?
That Fatty Acid Combination
Historically, coconut oil has suffered a bad press because of its high saturated fat content – almost 90% of the fats it contains are of this type. Recent studies, however, have been revealing that certain saturated fats are not as harmful as we thought, with some experts going as far as to suggest they are harmless and that the artery-clogging associated with them is a myth.
The saturated fats falling into this category (and those contained in coconut oil) are comprised of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These are metabolised more easily than the Long-Chain types found in red meat and cheese. This unique combination makes them beneficial to our health, rather than problematic.
A Diet Rich in Coconut is Healthy
There are many cultures around the world where coconut is consumed as a major part of the diet. The Tokelauans of the South Pacific, for example, derive in excess of 60% of their calories from coconut and enjoy good health with little evidence of heart disease among their people.
Not all Calories are Created Equal
Various recent studies have shown that the type of calories you consume have a direct impact on the efficiency of the body in using energy. The consumption of MCTs such as those in coconut oil increases energy expenditure when compared with that delivered by Long-Chain fats. This basically means that if you eat MCTs in favour of other types of saturated fats your body will use more calories for the same amount of effort from you. This, I like the sound of!
Eating Coconut can Reduce your Appetite
Experts are not yet quite sure how this works, but research has proved that people who eat more MCTs (as found in coconut oil) tend to feel less hungry throughout the day and, consequently, consume fewer calories overall. The impact on this over a long period of time could be a positive impact on your body weight.
Coconut Oil can be Used On the Body too
The benefits of coconut oil are not confined to the internal workings of the body. Its cosmetic benefits have been well documented too. Studies on individuals with dry skin showed that moisture and lipid content can be improved by applying coconut oil, helping the skin to appear fresher and more elastic. It can also help to protect the hair from sun damage, with one study suggesting that it acts very effectively as a sunscreen, blocking some 20% of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Adding Coconut Oil to your Diet can Shrink your Waistline
Coconut oil’s apparent ability to suppress the appetite and stimulate the burning of fat makes it a prime product for helping to reduce weight. An excess of abdominal fat is known to have a detrimental impact of the health and increase the risk of developing medical problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Several studies have shown that adding 30ml of coconut oil per day to the diet in both men and women can lead to a reduction in BMI and your waist measurement over time. And this was without any other dietary modifications or exercise programme. What’s not to like?