The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil


Avo-Nut Green Smoothie Made with Coconut Oil!

Coconut oil is experiencing a popularity boom all over the world [1] right now. Not only is it delicious and great to use in the kitchen, it has also gained a reputation as something of a miracle-cure for a number of ailments. However, when something is hyped as much as coconut oil is, the truth can sometimes get lost amongst the myths [2], which ultimately works against the credibility of the substance. Here, therefore, are some tried, tested, and proven health benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut Oil Boosts Your Immune System

Coconut oil contains a lot of a substance called lauric acid. Lauric acid is used by the body in a variety of ways, one of the most pertinent of which is as a support for the immune system. The body converts lauric acid into a substance known as ‘Monolaurin’, which is a potent anti-viral agent. Monolaurin will back up the immune system in times of crisis, effectively taking out viruses, fungal infections, and disease-causing bacteria. It’s so good at fighting disease that human breast milk is packed full of lauric acid in order to give newborn babies the best fighting chance they can possibly have before they start to develop a healthy immune system of their own. After mothers’ milk, however, coconut oil appears to be the next best source of lauric acid around [3].

Coconut Oil Raises Your ‘Good Cholesterol’ Levels

Not all cholesterol is bad. There are two types of cholesterol – Low Density or ‘LDL’ cholesterol, and High Density or ‘HDL’ cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the dangerous stuff. It moves sluggishly and greasily through your blood vessels, clogging them up and impeding the flow of blood. HDL cholesterol is a different story. It’s a more compact, tougher, faster form of cholesterol which blasts through the blood vessels, sweeping up debris and unclogging your circulatory system before taking the rubbish to your liver, which eliminates it [4]. High levels of LDL cholesterol is associated with heart disease – a major killer in our society [5]. Raising your levels of HDL cholesterol through (moderate!) coconut oil intake, however, could significantly lower your LDL cholesterol levels and thus make you less vulnerable to heart disease. Cholesterol is a major bugbear for modern health authorities. If you are going to cook with a fatty oil, make it one like coconut oil, which raises good rather than bad cholesterol levels!

In Moderation, Coconut Oil Could Make Your Belly Smaller

There’s no getting about it – coconut oil is highly calorific. However, if you don’t overindulge in the stuff, there’s evidence that it can (somewhat bizarrely) reduce your abdominal fat. Abdominal or ‘visceral’ fat is a troublesome beast, associated with an awful lot of health risks [6] – far more so than the subcutaneous fat which makes up our love handles and bingo-wings. However, an experiment carried out in 2008 on a group of women seemed to show that switching from other fatty oils to calorific coconut oil not only did not cause the subjects to put on more weight, but seemed actually to reduce their visceral fat levels [7]. This does not mean that chugging coconut oil will automatically make you skinny – indeed, it is important to note that coconut oil is highly calorific, so eating too much of it will definitely make you heftier. However, if you are on a diet, and exercising, then switching from your usual oils to coconut oil could give you a boost in shifting some of your belly fat. Try our Avo-Nut Green Smoothie for breakfast or after a workout!

– Anne Curtis

[1] Rebecca Burn-Callander, “Brits are going nuts for coconut oil”, The Telegraph, Mar 2015

[2] Tracy Moore, “The ‘Oil Pulling’ Health Craze Works, Just Not In The Way You Think”, Jezebel, Mar 2014

[3] PR Newswire, “Monolaurin: A Wonder Immune-Boosting Component”, May 2013

[4] Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, “LDL and HDL: ‘Bad’ and ‘Good’ Cholesterol”

[5] KM, “Guide to Heart Disease”

[6] Harvard Health Publications, “Abdominal fat and what to do about it”, Harvard Medical School, Sept 2005

[7] Monica L. Assuncao, Haroldo S. Ferreira. Aldenir F. dos Santos, Cyro R. Cabral Jr, Telma M. M. T. Florencio, “Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity”, Journal of Lipids, Sept 2008

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