Coconut oil is one of the best foods you can possibly eat, and there are many health benefits for all of us. I don’t go in for all the hype about calling any foods “superfoods” like you’ve probably seen a lot of lately.
I think there are natural, healthy foods that are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our body needs. This to me is just food.
Then you have highly processed crap that has long ago lost most of its nutrient value, but has somehow found its way into our lives in a very prominent way, and although it may be edible, I do not consider this crap to be food, and should not be consumed as regularly as it is.
Coconut oil of course is processed, but it’s not done by heat and broken down like vegetable oil, it’s cold pressed, so it remains structurally sound.
The Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil
Now when it comes to the health benefits of coconut oil, there is a saying I quite like which bears repeating here… “you are what you eat”.
I don’t mean if you eat lot’s of chicken, you will turn into a chicken (regardless of what my wife Emma thinks!), but rather that when you consume anything it is broken down in your body to the most basic cellular level and then distributed throughout your body to wherever it is needed.
So for example if you eat a steak, it will be broken down to a certain percentage of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that it is made up of (because it is not 100% protein), and then all the different elements become integrated inside your body depending on where they are needed.
Coconut oil is made up of roughly 88-92% saturated fat. Now it might shock you to think that it could possibly be any good for you to eat coconut oil, especially if you believe the long held but outdated view that eating fat is bad for you and makes you fat.
Now I’m going to tell you something else that may shock you just as much. You probably already know that about 65% of our body is made up of water. This is found out by looking at our body on a cellular level. What you probably didn’t know is that most of the rest of that percentage is made up by saturated fat, especially our brain, which is mostly fat and water!
Saturated fat is necessary for our diet, by providing us with energy, the ability to store excess energy for later use, and for structural and metabolic functions for transporting key nutrients, as well as rebuilding and maintaining the integrity of tissue and hair.
I’ve briefly discussed in a previous post, Caveman Diet – Steps To Success, the differences between good fat and bad fat. Essentially, bad fats have been highly processed and heat treated past the point of breakdown, so that you’re left with rancid, unstable oil that no longer has any integrity at the cellular level.
Coconut oil has not gone through this heat treatment process, and therefore it remains structurally sound and stable at the cellular level. Just as importantly, because coconut oil is so stable, it has a much higher smoke point than other fats or oils. What this basically means is that it can withstand being exposed to high heat (up to 180C) before it begins to break down.
So now I’d like to go back to why that saying “you are what you eat” is so important. If you tend to cook with vegetable oils, as mentioned above we know that it has already been broken down at a cellular level. So when it’s absorbed into our body, we are essentially distributing damaged cells, making our body work way harder than it should, cause inflammation, and has been linked to many serious health issues like asthma, eczema, depression, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and possibly much more.
For more information about the negative health issues surrounding vegetable oils, check out this great article by Authority Nutrition called 6 Reasons Why Vegetable Oils Are Toxic.
I think that’s enough negative today, now let’s just focus on the positive health benefits of coconut oil!
We’ve established that coconut oil is made up largely of saturated fat, in a very stable, cold-pressed form. When you ingest coconut oil, it will distributed throughout your body to where it is needed most.
Need some energy? No worries, it’s a fantastic source of long-lasting energy. Been lacking some vitamins? Beautiful. The fat will help your cells to function at maximum efficiency and transport key nutrients to wherever they are needed. Skin feeling dry, or wrinkled? Coconut oil will help your cells become “plump”, and begin to help your body repair and regenerate damage.
Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight
Yes, one of the health benefits of coconut oil is you can lose weight! This is true for a couple of reasons.
First of all, we need fat for our body to function properly. When we deny our body fat (because we’ve been told it’s bad for us), then our body feels the need to store excess energy because its needs are not being met. This has evolved by design to get us through a tough season when there is very little food available and prevent starvation (not really a problem in modern Western society).
When we provide our body with the fat we need, we no longer need to store excess energy, and instead we can use it to make our bodies function more efficiently.
The other very important and useful thing that coconut oil does for us is to trigger our hormones that tell our brain we are full, and we don’t need to eat any more food, thank you very much. (Sugar does not do this, hence why we are able to eat massive amounts of excess calories without feeling full).
Coconut Oil Can Protect Your Body From Various Forms Of Damage
One of the health benefits of coconut oil is it can prevent skin and hair damage. Coconut oil can be used for many things other than just food, and some people use it to improve the health and vitality of their hair and skin by applying to that area.
Coconut oil can be used to improve the moisture and lipid (fat) content of skin. There is even a study that shows that coconut oil has the ability to block out 20% of UV rays when used as sunscreen. (Potential of herbs in skin protection from UV radiation)
Some people also use coconut oil in a process called “oil pulling”, which is basically like mouthwash. By swishing it around in your mouth it can kill harmful bacteria and improve dental health.
Coconut Oil Can Prevent Infection
Almost half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are made up of lauric acid. When digested, coconut oil also forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin.
Lauric acid and monolaurin can both kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. One of the health benefits of coconut oil is that eating it can help to stave off infections and prevent you getting sick, keeping you feeling fit and healthy for longer!
Coconut Oil May Lower Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat, and studies have shown it can play a major role in turning LDL (lousy) cholesterol into a benign neutral version, while increasing the levels of HDL (happy) cholesterol (another excellent food that does this is eggs, which I’m sure I’ll cover at another point in the future).
Cholesterol, like fat, has been unfairly demonised over the past several decades, as it also provides an important and necessary function for our body. What kind of cholesterol is in our body is a more important question to ask yourself than how much of it there is, and coconut oil provides the right environment in your body to create the best kind of cholesterol that will help your body function properly and reduce the risk of heart disease, one of the biggest killers in our modern society.
Coconut Oil Can Improve Brain Function, Including in Alzheimer’s Patients
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia found worldwide. Patients suffering this condition appear to have a reduced ability to use glucose for energy in parts of their brain.
One of the very best health benefits of coconut oil is that the ketone bodies found in it can be used as an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning brain cells, improving cognitive function and reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Studies in this field are ongoing, but there are very encouraging signs, with one showing short-term immediate improvements in cognitive function.
The health benefits of coconut oil are numerous, and we may only be scratching the surface of its potential. Combined with a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits and meats, coconut oil should be consumed on a regular basis to assist with weight loss, brain function, repair and regrowth of healthy cells, prevent infection, and reduce the risk of serious health conditions.
I’ve eaten coconut oil regularly for over 4 years now, and have noticed a marked improvement in my quality of life. I will happily eat coconut oil for the rest of my life, knowing that it is providing a useful function in maintaining that high quality of life and overall health.
I’d also like to point out right now that I do not sell coconut oil, don’t own or have any affiliation with a company that creates coconut oil, or any similar products for that matter. I do not have any vested interest, I just think it’s a fantastic food that is very important we all eat to reverse our poor health and obesity epidemic.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!