Why is Coconut Oil Good for You?
The fact that coconut oil is good for health tends to surprise many people. The reason: it is believed to raise blood cholesterol and lead to heart disease. Let's look at the reasons for this misconception and the health benefits of this tropical oil.
Coconut Oil Myths
The misconception that coconut oil is unhealthy is based on a study that used hydrogenated oil. The study was conducted a few decades back and at that time no one knew that the process of hydrogenation forms trans fatty acids that raise cholesterol levels and interfere in effective cell functionality.
If the study was conducted on virgin coconut oil, these trans fatty acids would not have been present. So, basically the culprit in this study was the process of hydrogenation and not the coconut oil.
The presence of saturated fats is another reason why people consider this oil as unhealthy. But what many people fail to realize is that saturated fats can have both good and bad properties.
The saturated fats in coconut oil are easily digestible. They get absorbed directly by the liver and are converted into energy very quickly. This means that these fatty acids are immediately available for use by your body and will not get stored as fat. So, there is limited chance of obesity and heart disease here.
Nutrition Facts on Coconut Oil
Now let's have a look at some nutrition facts on coconut oil and its health benefits that will convince you that in fact coconut oil is good for you.
High in Healthy Saturated Fats
Coconut oil is the highest source of healthy saturated fats. Your body needs these fats for healthy cell functioning and providing energy for the heart and other organs of the body. About 65% of the saturated fats in this healthy oil are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which provide readily-available energy to the various parts of the body.
The MCTs found in coconut oil make it healthy for people suffering from malnutrition and diseases of the lymphatic systems and the intestines.
The oil is also a rich source of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, and oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, both of which are healthy for your body.
The MCTs present in coconut oil are made of about 50% lauric acid, an essential fatty acid that plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Along with capric acid, another fatty acid present in coconut oil, lauric acid protects your body from infection by various bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. Lauric acid has also been found to have an anti-viral effect against the virus causing acquired immune deficiency disease (AIDS).
Antioxidant Qualities of Coconut Oil
The oil contains tocopherols and related tocotrienols which provide antioxidant benefits to the body. This means that the oil will protect the cells of your body from free radical damage. Free radical damage can cause various diseases including heart disease and cancer while speeding up the process of aging.
Healthy for Digestion
Since the MCTs are processed directly in the liver and are immediately converted to energy, coconut oil is easily digested. There is, therefore, less strain on the digestive organs including the liver and the pancreas. This is why it is effective for preventing digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and is also considered to be good for pancreatitis.
Prevents Heart Disease
The lauric acid found in coconut oil may help prevent various heart diseases. It keeps the LDL or bad cholesterol under control and may also be effective in preventing high blood pressure and atherosclerosis..
Good for Weight Loss
Since MCTs are directly transported to the liver and quickly converted into energy, they do not get deposited as fat tissue. The consumption of this oil, therefore, helps in burning more calories, decreases hunger pangs, and helps maintain a healthy body weight. By removing stress on the pancreas, the oil also increases metabolism. This translates into higher burning of calories and weight reduction in overweight and obese people.
Benefits for Diabetics
Coconut oil is healthy for diabetics in two ways. Firstly, it improves the secretion of insulin. Secondly, it promotes better utilization of blood glucose. Both these factors help in controlling blood sugar levels.
Other Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Since this oil improves the absorption of various minerals in the body, calcium and magnesium are easily available to the body. Both these minerals play an important role in keeping your bones and teeth healthy. Regular intake can help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
Coconut oil may relieve the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and may also be effective in prostate enlargement, reducing epileptic seizures, and dissolving kidney stones.
The best thing about this healthy oil is that it does not get rancid easily and it retains its nutritive value even when heated. All you need to do is use virgin oil because this is the one that will provide you with all the health benefits of this tropical oil.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2011-2021. Published with permission. Austen Twain is a Post-Graduate in Psychology, has practiced as a Psychologist and Counselor for over 10 years, and frequently writes about topics related to health and psychology.