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The Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Aug 07, 2004
If you haven’t already read other articles that I’ve written on healthy vs. unhealthy fats and oils, you may not know that the healthiest oil that you can use on a daily basis is coconut oil.
Although coconut oil has always been a healthy food choice, its reputation suffered a great deal during the 80s and 90s when it was lumped together with other saturated fats as a cause of cardiovascular disease.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Coconut Oil May Speed Up Metabolism and Increase Energy
It’s true that 92 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated. What many people don’t know is that over two-thirds of these saturated fatty acids are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFAs are different from other varieties of saturated fatty acids in that as soon as they enter your bloodstream, they are taken to your liver where they are converted to energy. Whereas other dietary fats and even excess carbohydrates can be stored as fat in your cells, the MCFAs found in coconut oil provide an almost immediate source of energy and may actually speed up your metabolism.
Because of its potential ability to speed up metabolism, coconut oil is a good food choice for people with sluggish thyroid glands, as well as for people who find it difficult to shed unwanted weight.
The Safest Oil for Cooking
The high percentage of saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil makes it extremely stable when exposed to heat. Unlike almost all other vegetable oils, coconut oil contains virtually no trans fats, and is highly resistant to free radical formation when used for cooking at high temperatures. No other oil comes close to being as safe and healthy for cooking as coconut oil.
Coconut Oil May Help Those with Digestive Problems
Many people who have suffered with inflammatory conditions of the intestines like Crohn’s disease have successfully used coconut oil for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Coconut oil's ability to help improve the balance of microorganisms in the intestines is likely another reason why people who suffer with digestive disorders benefit from using it on a regular basis.
A Good All-Natural Moisturizer for Your Skin
In addition to its potential healing properties for your internal health, coconut oil makes for an exceptional skin moisturizer. First of all, it doesn’t contain any of the carcinogenic chemicals that are found in many commercial moisturizers. Secondly, coconut oil is easily absorbed into your skin, where it can help to prevent free radical damage, wrinkling, and sagging. It may even be able to restore strength to the underlying connective tissue.
To summarize, here is some of what coconut oil may do for you:
- Improve your energy
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Reduce your risk of cancer
- Improve your digestion and ability to absorb nutrients
- Promote weight loss and maintenance of your ideal weight
- Help prevent bacterial, yeast, fungal, and viral infections
- Support and enhance your immune system
- Help regulate your blood sugar and prevent or control diabetes
- Help prevent osteoporosis
- Help prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
- Help keep your skin smooth and soft
- Help protect against skin cancer and blemishes
Coconut oil does NOT do any of the following:
- Does NOT contribute to heart disease
- Does NOT contribute to weight problems
- Does NOT increase blood cholesterol
- Does NOT promote platelet stickiness or blood clot formation
In choosing a coconut oil for your daily needs, I recommend that you look for a source that fulfills the following guidelines for healthy virgin coconut oil:
- Should smell and taste like fresh coconuts
- Certified organic, USDA standards
- No hydrogenated oils / trans fats
- No chemicals or preservatives added
- Only fresh coconuts are used - no dried copra, which is used to make many other commercial coconut oils
- No refining, bleaching, or deodorizing
- No genetically modified coconuts (Non-GMO)
- Coconuts are from traditional palm trees only - no hybrid tress are used
For more scientific information about the properties of coconut oil, I recommend that you read Eat Fat, Lose Fat: Lose Weight And Feel Great With The Delicious, Science-based Coconut Diet, by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig.
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