If there has been one standout item in the healthy living revolution, it has to be coconut oil. Loved by fitness fans to mums and top chefs too, everyone’s jumping on the coconut oil bandwagon. Coconut oil has been unpopular in the past because of its high fat content, but as people come to understand more about good fats and bad fats, it is now a well-accepted superfood. Described as the ‘healthiest of frying oils’, coconut oil has many health benefits to improve your diet and wellbeing, as well adding a great flavour boost to your cooking.
About coconut oil
Coconut oil is readily available in most supermarkets and health food shops. The recent surge in popularity has meant that it’s easier to get hold of, and is available at more affordable prices than before. When it is in its solid form, it is white and once it starts to heat up it melts to form a clear, oily consistency. It’s this slow oxidisation process that makes it healthier than other fats, perfect for frying everyday foods.
5 health benefits of coconut oil
- It could help prevent diseases and medical conditions
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which has been found to have antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. This means that coconut oil can help to prevent a wide range of infections and diseases, as well as more common afflictions such as indigestion. The monolaurin found in coconut oil is also present in breast milk, packed full of immunity boosting properties to help our bodies fight infection and diseases.
2. It can boost your metabolism
Eating the right fats can actually help to boost your metabolism, rather than hinder it. The medium-chain saturated fats (MCFAs) found in coconut oil actually helps to boost your metabolism and the rate you burn fat. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that those who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day burnt more KJs than those who didn’t. So if you’re going to use oil for cooking, it may be worth switching to coconut oil to see if you notice any benefits.
3.It helps to lower cholesterol
The saturated fats contained in coconut oil can help to boost your ‘good cholesterol’ (HDL), which in turn can lower your risk of getting heart disease. In turn, coconut oil also helps to reduce your Total and LDL levels of cholesterol, making it a great addition to your diet and a healthier alternative to butter and spreads, known to increase cholesterol levels.
4. It boosts brain function
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a key component of coconut oil and are known for helping to provide additional fuel to glucose which allows the brain to function on. As many of us are already trying to cut down on our sugar intake, coconut oil can therefore provide a replacement energy source. When a person suffers from Alzheimer’s, the brain almost blocks glucose intake to the brain, which leads to neurodegeneration. According to a study in the Neurobiology of Ageing however, Alzheimer’s patients with milder forms of the disease who consumed MCT’s showed improvement in their brain function.
5. It can help you to lose weight
Don’t be fooled by big claims that eating coconut oil alone will help you lose weight. Coconut oil is still high in calories and needs to be used in moderation, like all foods with high fat content. However, the MCTs in coconut oil are burned by the body quicker, which makes them a preferred energy source for our bodies. This quicker burn means that they don’t get added to fat cells in the same way that other energy sources do, and so they don’t tend to increase weight gain when used in place of other energy sources. Weight loss can be achieved through a healthy diet and exercise regime, and using coconut oil instead of standard vegetable or seed oils could give your diet a bit of a boost.
Coconut oil is a versatile ingredient which can also be used for skincare and as a hair treatment. For more information on how you can use coconut oil in cooking, Lucy Bee’s website is a fantastic resource for recipes and has more information about the health benefits of coconut oil.