The myth that all fats are bad for you has thankfully been well and truly debunked. One oil that has been getting a lot of attention recently is coconut oil. Once looked down upon because of its high concentration of saturated fats, it has now become a favourite of nutritionists and fitness experts world over. Is this just another passing diet fad, or will switching to coconut oil deliver healthy rewards?
One thing that everyone agrees upon is that the human diet absolutely needs fat. Fats are essential for all manner of bodily functions. These include the building of cells, nerve activity, hormone production and the transporting of fat soluble nutrients. It is only for a brief period of time in human history that fats were viewed so negatively.[pullquote]It is only for a brief period of time in human history that fats were viewed so negatively[/pullquote]
Why is that? First, a dramatic rise in processed food led to some bad health consequences which were wrongly attributed to all fats. In fact, the problem lay with processed fats. Vegetable fats break down into highly toxic compounds when exposed to high temperature. (For this reason if you want to gain health benefits from eating vegetable oils it is necessary to buy cold-pressed virgin oils, and avoid frying where possible.) Second, the growing hysteria surrounding fat was fuelled by a 15 billion dollar ‘low-fat’ diet industry which saw healthy fats being replaced with commercially cheap, instantly gratifying sugar. This was the subject of Michael Fumento’s 1997 book ‘The Fat of the Land’
In conclusion, it is now understood that oils carry a wide variety of nutritional benefits. But what about coconut oil? Does it deserve its celebrity status as a super food? The research suggests that it does indeed have some unique advantages that make it a useful and healthy addition to any well balanced diet. Here are 10 reasons why coconut oil can make you happier, healthier and more beautiful!
1. Coconut Oil Helps Burn Body Fat
Who would have thought that eating fat can help you loose weight? This surprising benefit of coconut oil was first bought to light in the 1940’s when farmers tried to fatten up beef cattle by feeding them coconut oil. What actually happened is that the animals became very lean and active. Whilst that may have been bad news for the farmers, it is great news for us.
The reason that coconut oil promotes lean muscle rather than fat is because it is made up of short and medium-chain fatty acids that are particularly easy to digest. Eaten regularly this helps to speed up the metabolism.
2. It Boosts Your Energy
Coconut oil is unique amongst fats and oils in that the body can transform it quickly into usable energy. A teaspoon of coconut oil in your smoothie or mixed into yoghurt will deliver a healthy energy boost.
3 Coconut Oil is Good for the Heart
The lauric acid in coconut oil has the power to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) which is good for a healthy heart.
For many years it was mistakenly believed that coconut was bad for the heart because of its saturated fat content. However, scientific understanding has increased since then, and it is now clear that not all saturated fat are bad. Coconut oil contains medium-chain saturated fats (MCT’s) which the human body metabolises very differently, and which have unique health benefits.
3. It Enhances Your Natural Beauty
Coconut oil is great from tip to toe, inside and out. It’s great to use on your skin, hair and nails to keep them nourished and moisturised. Due to its unique antimicrobial properties it works very well at eliminating dandruff, and can also help banish gingivitis if used as a mouth wash (oil pulling).
It’s benefits don’t end there. It’s soft, creamy texture melts as things start to heat up making it a perfect massage oil.
5. Coconut Oil Can be Used for Cooking
The problem with most vegetable oils is that they break down into toxic trans fats when heated to high temperature. Popular ‘healthy’ oils such as sunflower oil or even virgin olive oil, are sadly no different in this regard – to get the health benefits they need to be bought cold pressed and used unheated.
The good news is that cooking with coconut oil is incredibly healthy. For a vegetable oil it has a very high smoke point which means it does not break down so easily and is therefore much healthier.
6. It Can Be Used Instead of Butter
It’s spreadable creamy texture is great for making hot toast or sandwiches, and can be useful in recipes for spreads. This makes it especially useful if you need to avoid dairy products.
7. It Prevents Illness
As well as lowering bad cholesterol, the lauric acid in coconut oil has other health giving benefits.
A particularly interesting area of research is its antiviral properties – studies have even shown that lauric acid can help prevent viruses from entering cells and causing illness.
8. Coconut Oil Boosts Brain Power
Preliminary research studies show that coconut oil can increase brain activity, and for this reason it is being studied for possible benefits in preventing dementia.
9. It Will Help You Exercise
Because the body burns coconut oil so efficiently it can be very useful for increasing sports performance, especially if you’re doing short bursts of high intensity exercise like HIIT.
The great advantage of coconut oil over other quick release forms of energy like sugar is that it does not play havoc with the body’s insulin levels and underlying metabolism.
10. Coconut Oil Soothes Indigestion
Coconut oil is easy to digest and soothing on the digestive system, which is helpful if problems such as gas or IBS. Additionally, coconut oil can help with the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.