Coconut oil used to get a bad rap because it has saturated fat, but researchers have discovered that this type of saturated fat is comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)–most notably lauric acid–that have major health benefits.
In a nutshell, most of our fats including dairy, meat, vegetable oils and others are long-chain triglycerides (LCT) that are more difficult for the body to process. MCTs don’t need to be absorbed by the lymphatic system and are less likely to get deposited as fat, plus it seems that they allow other nutrients to absorb into our bloodstream faster.
Coconut oil is one of the only naturally occurring sources of medium-chain triglycerides, but know that they don’t make up the oil’s total composition–only about 66%. Make sure that your coconut oil is pure (non-hydrogenated), otherwise everything below is a moot point. Also, it stays solid until it reaches a temperature of 76°F.
Here are reasons why you should incorporate coconut oil into your diet and skin care regimen now. Coconut oil:
1. Improves cholesterol
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a saturated fat that is a type of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). Lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
2. Boosts immunity
It’s full of anti-oxidants. It has antibacterial and antiviral (more on this below) properties.
3. Helps digestive disorders like IBD
There is some controversy here because diets high in fat can worsen IBD symptoms. Check with your doctor. Some claim that because the body can absorb MCTs directly into the blood stream via your intestines, that they provide much-needed nutrients that sufferers from digestive disorders can’t normally absorb.
4. Promotes weight loss, especially around the waist
Apparently, when coconut oil’s MCTs break down, these healthy fats in the liver increase metabolism (giving you more energy to work out) and positively effect sugar levels and thyroid hormones. According to a 2009 study, some women who consumed 2T of coconut oil per day for 12 weeks, lowered their abdominal fat versus women in the same study who consumed soy bean oil and saw no change.
5. Is a natural moisturizer
My massage therapist, Robin Swan at Firebird Touch Therapy in La Jolla, uses organic coconut oil during massages. She prefers coconut oil over others, such as olive oil, because it absorbs into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling and washes out of clothing easily.
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