When I talk about super foods, coconut oil is top on my list. Coconut oil is not something new that we recently discovered. Actually, ancient cultures have been using coconut oil for centuries as holistic means of staying healthy and strong. There are over 1500 studies proving that coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
Did you know that plant-based oil (most oils we consume) require a 26 step process to get digested? Where as coconut oil only goes through a 3 step process to be converted into fuel. Plant based oils are long-chained fatty acids that require such a long process. Coconut oil is classified as a healthy fat called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These unique fats are made up of:
- Caprylic acid
- Lauric acid
- Capric acid
Unlike long-chain fatty acids found in plant-based oils, medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are:
- Easier to digest
- Not readily stored as fat
- Antimicrobial and antifungal
- Smaller in size, allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy
- Processed by the liver, which means that they’re immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat
Benefits of coconut oil are long and amazing but let me share with you a few of my absolute favourites!
- Improves Memory and Brain Function
Of all the organs in your body, your brain especially needs healthy dietary fat. It’s largely made of fat, 60% by weight (1). Your brain cell membrane integrity largely depends on the quality of the fats you eat (2).
You may have heard that coconut oil can increase your cholesterol. And that’s a good thing for your brain! Your brain specifically needs cholesterol.
The brain has higher cholesterol content than any other organ with about 25% of the body’s cholesterol found in the brain. (3) Coconut oil has shown to benefit with following amazing ways:
- Low cholesterol increases the risk of suicide, depression, and dementia. (4)
- The risk of dementia is reduced by 70% in those with high cholesterol. (5)
- High-fat diets, especially ones that include the MCTs found in coconut oil, can delay brain aging. (6)
You know anything that improves brain function interests me so much! This research done in 2004 and published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging, researchers found that the MCFAs in coconut oil improved the memory problems in their older subjects.
Across all the patients there was a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking this fatty acid. As the MCFAs are absorbed easily in the body and can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin. Thus, they are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.
Don’t forget the youngins! Children need to consume fats for their optimal growth. It is necessary for their brain development and proper hormonal functions.
2. Improves Energy and Endurance
Coconut oil is easy to digest and also produces a longer sustained energy and increases your metabolism. When taking a quality unrefined coconut oil, you can get the most coconut oil benefits as its MCFAs are sent directly to the liver to be converted into energy.
Did you know that many triathletes use coconut oil as their source of fuel during training and races for long-distance events.
Homemade energy fuel – mix together one tablespoon of each consume 30 minutes prior to exercise.
- coconut oil
- raw honey
- chia seeds
3. Improves Digestion and Reduces Stomach Ulcers
Coconut also improves digestion as it helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium and magnesium.
Coconut’s MCT fats help the liver detoxify from waste and allow the liver to use it for immediate energy, not storage. Due to coconut’s anti-viral benefits, it also has the ability to reduce toxins that back up in the bloodstream and lead to a sluggish liver.
If coconut oil is taken at the same time as omega-3 fatty acids, it can make them twice as effective, as they are readily available to be digested and used by the body.
Coconut oil can help improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida. Candida imbalance especially can decrease stomach acid, which causes inflammation and poor digestion. All this together means coconut oil benefits digestive health and helps treat or prevent stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis.
The combination of fatty acids in coconut oil, including lauric, caprylic and capric acids, give it anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. These properties make it a good weapon for staving off parasites, bad bacteria and yeast (candida) that like to make their home in the intestines and mess with our digestive systems.
4. Burn Fat & Build Muscle
I know it seems counterintuitive to assume that eating coconut oil (a fat) will contribute to fat loss, but it is actually quite logical. The key to understanding this phenomenon lays in the multidimensional ability of the MCFAs to control a variety of physiological processes.
For example, in the 1985 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, discovered that capric acid shows significant improvements in thyroid function, helps lower resting heart rate and assists your body in burning fat for energy.
More recently, the Obesity Research Journal published a study from Boston University Medical School that gives us a clue why MCFAs have fat-burning ability. (7)
Testing the effects that MFCAs have on fat breakdown, adipose (fatty) cells in rats were pretreated with caprylic acid. They observed that fat breakdown occurred at such a significant level that it literally mimicked the characteristics of fasting.
Coconut oil is super beneficial for weight loss because of the energy-creating abilities of coconut oil and the fact it’s a no-carb oil.. It helps burn fat and calories, decrease appetite, and in studies it was especially helpful in losing belly fat.
5. Naturally Anti-age
According to research published in the medical journal Food and Function, coconut oil improves antioxidant levels and can slow aging. Coconut oil works by reducing stress on the liver and lowering oxidative stress. (8)
Also, researchers found that coconut oil may support detoxification because of how it works with the liver. To naturally slow aging, take one tablespoon of coconut oil with antioxidant-rich berries for breakfast. I love applying coconut oil on the skin too. I use all year round and love all the amazing benefits, you can read here 6 Steps to Reveal Your Best Skin.
WARNING — Refined or processed coconut oil can be bleached, overheated past the preferred melt point and chemically processed to increase its shelf life. Processing the oil changes the chemical makeup, and the fats are no longer good for you, so avoid hydrogenated oils whenever possible.
How I Have Coconut Oil
First thing in the morning ! I add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil to half scoop of whey isolate protein powder and drink it first thing pre-breakfast. If you’re wondering why whey isolate then read The Truth About Whey to find out why you should start a high quality protein supplement.
I also add coconut oil to my cooking whenever possible. Frying eggs and stir frying veggies is a good option to switch coconut oil for hydrogenated vegetable oils. Another great way is to add a few teaspoons to your smoothie. Have you tried my recipe for The Love Shot ? Try adding coconut oil to this for some added super food actions!