Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a coconut oil addict. I proudly admit it. I could go on and on about the numerous ways this oil is beneficial and versatile in so many different ways, but in this post we will stick to the nutritional benefits alone.
For so long, coconut oil has gotten a bad rap for being high in saturated fat. Coconut oil is actually one of the richest sources available, seeing that 90% of the fat is saturated. As you probably have heard, for years we've been told that saturated fat is bad for us and that we should avoid it at all cost because it causes heart disease. However, the new data actually shows that saturated fat is actually pretty harmless. In fact, saturated fats can actually lower your LDL cholesterol and increase your HDL, in turn making it heart healthy after all. I have coconut oil every day of my life, and my lipid profile has never been better. I sautee and roast my veggies with it, I use it on the stovetop for cooking my eggs, I use it in multiple baking recipes, and I even put a scoop in my coffee every morning!
Coconut oil is unique because it is made up of mostly medium chain triglycerides. So many other fatty acids contain mostly long chain triglycerides. Let's look at the difference. Medium chain triglycerides are metabolized differently in the body. They go straight to the liver to be turned into ketones (eliminating the need for bile) and can be used as an immediate source of energy. Ketones are beneficial for protecting many organs in the body, such as the heart, brain, kidneys, pancreas and more. This is especially helpful in Alzheimer's patients. Ketones provide an immediate alternative source of energy other than glucose for the brain to help repair brain function. It also seems that coconut oil may have a positive effect on those dealing with dementia as well. This is great news for a very difficult subject!
Coconut oil has been known to help increase energy expenditure compared to ingesting the same number of calories from longer chain fatty acids. This could possibly add up to burning an extra 100-120 calories per day. Now that may not sound like much at first, but over the long haul it certainly can add up and help with long term weight loss. Not only this, but coconut oil can also help curb your appetite, and I would tend to agree with this for myself. Bonus!
Another great benefit of coconut oil is the large amount of lauric acid it provides. Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is made up of lauric acid. Why is this good? Lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, making it a fabulous help in fighting off harmful invaders. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be sick! I would rather do all I can to fight it off naturally. Not only that, lauric acid also has been known to help balance hormones. This can be helpful for women dealing with hot flashes and other unpleasant hormonal imbalances.
These are just some of the amazing benefits of coconut oil. More to come in future posts for different uses and more added benefits. If you do use coconut oil, use it in it's most natural unrefined state. I use organic extra virgin coconut oil to get the most benefits from this healthy fat. You can find it here. Try it out for yourself!
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Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.