Coconut oil is one of the most popular supplements, widely used for centuries, especially in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Its current popularity, especially in the United States, started in the mid-20th century as an addition to many processed foods. Today, coconuts bear the reputation of a superfood, and coconut oil benefits range from heart health to natural beauty and healing.
What is Coconut Oil?
First, let's look at precisely what the oil is and how we produce it. Coconut oil comes from coconuts, of course, which have many benefits in itself. The meat has heart-healthy components and is a source of plant-based protein. The milk is light and sweet, but with a low sugar level. The flesh is rich in fiber and jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. As a fruit, coconuts are a great choice if you want a healthy, filling food that is low in sugar.
The oil, derived from the fruit's kernels, is usually tasteless, odorless, and, when liquefied, colorless. However, as one of the most widely used health supplements, it's also full of beneficial components, such as fatty acids, proteins, and antioxidants. Further, the fat in coconut oil is mostly heart-healthy saturated fat, which is why many choose to use it for cooking.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
We know coconuts are known as a "superfood," and as supplements go, it has a lot of benefits. Both the fruit and oil hold an array of healthy vitamins, minerals, and more. But, we still wonder, what are the benefits of coconut oil, and how do you get the most out of the fruit? And, is it really a superfood?
1. Healthy Fat, Healthy Heart
Heart-healthy saturated fat is one of the essential factors of coconut oil. When we use oil for cooking or frying, it's often a type of vegetable oil full of bad fat, also known as polyunsaturated fats. When consumed in large amounts or regularly over time, these fats can damage the heart. Vegetable oils also tend to have omega-6 fatty acids that are not as healthy as the fatty acids found in coconut oil and can lead to inflammation.
If you must cook with oil, coconut oil is a great alternative. Because of its saturated fats, it tends to increase HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol. It also lowers high triglycerides, so basically it's turning bad cholesterol into good cholesterol.
2. Coconut Oil and Digestion
Another benefit is how it helps in the digestive system. It can remove toxins and bacteria that lead to problems such as inflammation, bloating, and certain diseases. It also helps the body better absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
3. Weight Loss
Despite being fat itself, coconut oil can aid in weight loss by accelerating the body's fat-burning process. It can also boost thyroid function, lower resting heart rate, and work as an appetite suppressant. These benefits all help to support weight loss.
4. Blood Sugar
If you struggle with any issues around blood sugar, coconut oil can help you. The oil can help the body regulate insulin levels, making it an essential component to include in your diet regularly.
You can also use the oil topically for many of its benefits. When used as a salve, it can act as a sunblock, insect repellant, moisturizer, and promote healing by reducing inflammation. This reaction occurs thanks to two of its fatty acids—caprylic and lauric—and its antioxidant components.
Is it a Super Food?
So, is coconut oil a superfood? Considering its long list of benefits, and as far as supplements go, many believe that yes, it is a superfood. But, like any supplement, be sure to take it and use it in moderation. And, remember that we haven't thoroughly studied its benefits in clinical trials. However, as a natural food product packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, lean protein, and fatty acids, it's a healthy food full of benefits.