Coconut oil is a multipurpose oil that has numerous applications, including in the kitchen, on the skin, and in the hair. Recently, it has risen in popularity due to claims that it can help with a variety of health issues, including gastrointestinal issues, immune system support, and weight management. Coconut oil has been touted for its health benefits, but some experts have voiced concerns that it could be harmful if used excessively. In this piece, I'd like to delve into the pros and cons of using coconut oil and analyze the research that supports various uses for this product.
Coconut oil: what's the deal with it?
Maturated coconuts are the source of the meat used to produce coconut oil, a type of vegetable oil. Saturated fatty acids predominate, with lauric acid (roughly half the total fatty acid content), myristic acid, and palmitic acid all making up the bulk of the fat, with traces of unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and linoleic acid. Coconut oil is a popular ingredient because it is solid at room temperature but melts easily when heated.
Coconut oil is good for you in various ways:
Promotes better digestion
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are found in coconut oil, are quickly metabolized and utilized by the body. Unlike other fats, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are quickly shuttled to the liver, where they are burned for fuel or converted into ketones. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease are two examples of digestive disorders that may benefit from this.
Increases resistance to disease
Lauric acid, found in coconut oil, is antimicrobial and may aid in immune system function. Monolaurin, which is created when lauric acid is broken down in the body, has been shown to have efficacy against various pathogens. People with compromised immune systems may benefit from this as it can serve as an added layer of defense against infection.
Benefits weight loss efforts
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil may help with weight loss. Research has shown that consuming MCTs can help you feel full on fewer calories and speed up your metabolism, two factors that contribute to cutting back on food intake and ramping up fat burning. In addition, there is some evidence that coconut oil can aid in the loss of abdominal fat, a contributor to the development of many different types of chronic illness.
Helps maintain healthy skin and hair
Because of its moisturizing and nourishing effects, coconut oil is a common component in many cosmetics aimed at the skin and hair. Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps defend the skin against free radical damage, is present. Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, and it can make skin more elastic. It can also aid in the prevention of dandruff and the promotion of new hair growth in addition to moisturizing and strengthening the hair.
There are potential dangers associated with using coconut oil.
Presence of unhealthy saturated fat
About 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, making it a source of high-saturated fat. Saturated fats can increase blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Although some research suggests that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), the type of saturated fat found in coconut oil, may be safer than other types of saturated fat, there is still insufficient evidence to draw any firm conclusions.
Having a lot of calories
Approximately 120 calories can be found in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Excessive caloric intake is associated with increased body fat and the development of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Consuming coconut oil may help with weight loss, but only if you watch your portion sizes and calorie intake as a whole.
Avoid if you're on a strict diet.
People who are vegan or vegetarian should avoid coconut oil because it is not part of their diet. Even though it comes from plants, coconut oil still contains a lot of saturated fat, which may not sit well with those who avoid or limit those types of foods.
The absence of a smoking gun
There is still a lack of conclusive evidence supporting the purported health benefits of coconut oil, despite some studies to the contrary. There has been a lack of replication of many of the previous studies in larger, more rigorous studies. Additional study is required to fully assess the advantages and disadvantages of using coconut oil.
A Few Suggested Methods of Employing Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has many applications, including but not limited to:
- For its high smoke point and flavorlessness, coconut oil is a versatile cooking oil. It can be substituted for butter or oil in cooking.
- In regards to skin care, coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer. Apply it on your skin as is, or use it as a foundation for your own DIY skincare concoctions.
- Coconut oil is a great haircare product because it helps keep hair hydrated and fortified. It can either be used as a conditioning treatment or applied directly to the scalp and hair.
- To promote better oral health, some people engage in the practice of oil pulling, which entails swishing oil around in the mouth. Most people who practice oil pulling do so with coconut oil, which has antimicrobial properties and is therefore a popular choice.
Coconut oil has become increasingly well-liked in recent years as people have become aware of its purported health benefits. There is some evidence to back up these claims, but it's not nearly enough to draw any firm conclusions about the benefits or risks of using coconut oil. Consuming coconut oil should be done so with caution, as should eating any food high in calories. Before adding coconut oil to your diet or skincare routine, it is recommended that you speak with a medical professional.
Dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. These products are not reviewed or approved by the FDA before they are marketed, and their safety and effectiveness are not guaranteed. While many dietary supplements may provide health benefits, they can also be harmful if taken in excessive amounts or in combination with certain medications.
If you are considering taking a dietary supplement, it is important to do your research and talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if a supplement is safe and appropriate for your individual needs and can advise you on the proper dosage and timing of the supplement.
If you experience any adverse effects or allergic reactions after taking a dietary supplement, stop taking it immediately and seek medical attention. Be sure to report any adverse effects to the FDA's MedWatch program to help improve the safety of dietary supplements and other medical products.
In summary, while dietary supplements may offer potential health benefits, it is important to exercise caution and talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. The FDA does not guarantee the safety or effectiveness of dietary supplements, and it is up to consumers to do their research and make informed decisions about supplement use.
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- Eyres, L., Eyres, M. F., Chisholm, A., & Brown, R. C. (2016). Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutrition reviews, 74(4), 267-280.
- Gogus, U., & Smith, C. (2018). n-3 Omega fatty acids: a review of current knowledge. International journal of food science & technology, 53(9), 1949-1958.
- Health benefits of coconut oil. (2020, April 16). Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282857
- Li, Y., Li, H., Li, J., Yu, X., & Li, X. (2017). Medium-chain fatty acids decrease serum cholesterol via the bile acid pathway in Golden Syrian hamsters and suppress cholesterol synthesis in HepG2 cells. Food & function, 8(5), 1845-1855.
- St-Onge, M. P., & Jones, P. J. (2017). Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. International journal of obesity, 31(12), 1771-1777.