Coconut Oil: Health Benefits, Nutritional Breakdown, Risks
To date, there are over 1,500 studies proving coconut oil to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Coconut oil benefits and uses go beyond what most people realize.
Research has finally uncovered the secrets to this amazing fruit; namely healthy fats called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), these unique fats include:
And around 62% of the oils in coconut are made up of these 3 healthy fatty acids and 91% of the fat in coconut oil is healthy saturated fat.
Most of the fats that we consume take longer to digest, but MCFAs found in coconut oil provide the perfect source of energy because they only have to go through a 3 step process to be turned into fuel vs. other fats go through a 26 step process!
Unlike long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) found in plant based oils, MCFAs are:
Easier to digest
Not readily stored as fat
Are anti-microbial and anti-fungal
Smaller in size, allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy
Processed by the liver, which means that they are immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat
Health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil and cardiovascular disease
In a randomized clinical trial, 40 participants were given either 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or 2 tablespoons of soybean oil once a day for 12 weeks.
The soybean oil group saw their HDL (good cholesterol level) go down and their LDL (bad cholesterol) go up, both markers of an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The coconut oil group did not experience a significant change in their cholesterol numbers but were more likely to have a higher HDL level.1
Coconut oil and diabetes
Diets high in MCTs (65% of coconut oil’s makeup) have been shown to improve glucose tolerance and reduce body fat accumulation when compared to diets high in LCTs. MCFAs have also been shown to preserve insulin action in, and insulin resistance in rat studies.2 Coconut oil may also improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics.
Researchers observed that study participants who followed a diet in which 40% of calories came from fat, either comprised of mostly MCTs or LCTs, the MCT group improved insulin-mediated glucose metabolism by 30% when compared with the LCT group.2