You may have already heard that coconut oil is a superfood, but first off, what exactly is a "superfood"? and secondly, what makes coconut oil such a popular one? The Oxford Dictionary's definition of a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” With its unique health benefits, thanks to an abundance of fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins, coconut oil certainly fits the bill. Not to mention its creamy, satisfying taste! Here are just a few reasons why we love coconut oil :
1. Coconut Oil Helps You Burn Calories
Coconut oil contains fatty acids known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike the more common long-chain fatty acids, these triglycerides can be metabolized in the liver as quick sources of energy. In one study, researchers found that as little as 15 grams of MCTs per day can increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, which, in fat-burning lingo, amounts to an extra 120 calories burned per day. This extra boost can lead to significant weight loss in the long term when paired with a consistent exercise routine.
2.Coconut Oil Boasts Antibacterial, Antiviral, and Antifungal Properties
The above graphic shows the chemical structure of lauric acid, a miraculous, 12-carbon fatty acid which makes up 50% of coconut oil's fatty content. When digested, lauric acid forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Lucky for us, both lauric acid and monolaurin have been found to fight off viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens on and in the human body. Specifically, they have been found to kill off staphylococcus bacteria, which are pathogens known to induce dangerous staph infections. And that's not all! Lauric acid and monolaurin are also deadly to the fungus known as Candida Albicans, which is a major cause of yeast infection in humans.
3. Ketones Are the Key!
Once digested, much of the fatty acids in coconut oil enter the blood as ketone bodies, which are now known to effectively treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. Epileptic children who have endured unsuccessful treatments with pharmaceutical drugs are encouraged to eat foods rich with fatty acids. The resulting increase of ketone bodies in the child's blood inevitably reduces their rate of seizures on a day-to-day basis. In patients with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's disease, ketones bodies were found to reliably deliver energy to the brain and improve neurological functioning, greatly reducing Alzheimer's symptoms.
Trying to slim up for summer? Ketones were found to have appetite-suppressing effects for adult men in a surprising 1998 study.
4. Moisturize and Protect
Some of coconut oil's most sought-after advantages have nothing to do with eating it! Ever wonder why your "granola-babe" friend puts coconut oil on her face everyday? Coconut oil moisturizes and balances the lipid content of your skin without clogging pores. It can even protect your skin from sun damage, as it blocks about 20% of the sun's ultraviolet rays. If you have a case of the frizzies or chronically dry hair, run some coconut oil through your locks to even out moisture levels and protect your hair from damage.
5. Oral Hygiene
With origins in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years. This technique is thought to improve your dental health by killing harmful bacteria and drawing toxins from the body. Others claim that daily oil pulling brightens smiles and even gets rid of bad breath. Want to give it a try? Simply swish a tablespoon of oil (preferably coconut or sesame) around your mouth, as you would a mouth wash, for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this every morning before breakfast and brushing for best results, and let us know what you think!
6. Bust that Belly Fat
If you read number 1 on this list, you already know that coconut oil helps burn calories. But did you know that it can actually target those pesky layers of extra belly fat? A study in which 40 women with abdominal obesity supplemented with 1 ounce of coconut oil per day showed a significant reduction in BMI and waist circumference over a 12 week period. A similar study with 20 males noted a reduction of waist circumference in just 4 weeks with daily oil supplementation. Needless to say, simply adding coconut oil to your diet should not replace a steady exercise routine. However, this versatile oil will aid you throughout your weight loss journey especially when it comes to burning belly fat, which is considered to be the most dangerous fat in obesity related diseases.
7. Get the Good Stuff
If you you haven' already, make sure you only purchase organic, virgin coconut oil. Buying refined or processed oil may not deliver the benefits that have made coconut oil so popular. Some brands that sell organic oil include Nutiva, Nature's Way, Carrington Farm's and Trader Joe's.