A Look at the Misconceptions and the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

by Roohi

Is coconut oil bad for you? Are there any health benefits of coconut oil? Find out all about it right here.

Studies have found that coconut oil is actually good for your health. So, why has this healthy oil been made out to be something that raises blood cholesterol and cause heart disease? Let's look at the reasons for this misconception. Also, find out about the nutrition facts and health benefits of coconut oil.

The reason behind the misconceptions about coconut oil

A study conducted on hydrogenated coconut oil many decades back is what is responsible for the misconceptions about this very healthy oil. At that point not many people knew that the process of hydrogenation forms trans-fatty acids. However, now we all know that hydrogenation is the culprit here. 

The process of hydrogenation forms trans-fatty acids and this is what raised the cholesterol levels of the study participants. So, the idea is to avoid hydrogenated coconut oil and use virgin coconut oil instead. 

Another reason why coconut oil is considered to be unhealthy is because it contains saturated fats. This is true. However, the saturated fats present in this oil are easily digestible and get quickly absorbed by the liver, which converts it instantly into energy. Simply said, the saturated fats present in coconut oil are good for you since they are immediately available for use by the body and are not stored as fat. So, forget about getting heart disease or gaining weight with this oil.  

The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Now, that we have debunked the theory of coconut oil being bad for you, let's have a look at it why it is actually good for your health.

Healthy Saturated Fats

Not many people know this but there are good saturated fats and bad saturated fats. Good saturated fats are necessary if you want the cells of your body to continue functioning properly. These fats are also required for providing energy to the heart as well as the other organs of the body.

Now, let's look at the saturated fats present in coconut oil. This healthy tropical oil contains medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. Saturated fats of this variety are immediately converted into energy and are ready for use by the body. The MCTs present in coconut oil are particularly useful since they have been found to be healthy for the lymphatic system and intestines. Coconut oil has also been found to be good for people suffering from malnutrition.


Rich Source of Fatty Acids

Another reason why coconut oil is healthy is because it is a rich source of fatty acids. It contains linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Coconut oil is also a rich source of the monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. Needless to say, both these are quite good for maintaining healthy cell functionality.     


Boosts the Immune System

Coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid and capric acid. These are essential fatty acids which protect the body from various bacteria, viruses, and fungi by boosting the immune system. Breast milk is considered to be a rich source of lauric acid. You will be surprised to know that coconut oil is a richer source of this fatty acid than even breast milk. Lauric acid is considered to be so good for the immune system that it may also have strong anti-viral effects, enough to even fight the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency disease (AIDS). 


Rich Antioxidant Benefits 

We all know that antioxidants prevent the body from free radical damage. Free radicals have been found to accelerate the process of aging and causing various chronic health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Coconut oil contains tocopherols and related tocotrienols. These are potent antioxidants that will prevent the cells of your body from the destructive effects of free radicals by neutralizing their effects.    


Easily Digestible 

As mentioned above, the saturated fats present in coconut oil are directly processed in the liver. This means that the oil is quite easy to digest. It has, in fact, been found to be quite useful in digestive disorders. Irritable bowel syndrome and pancreatitis are two of the digestive disorders which can really be benefited by the healthy coconut oil. 


Good for the Heart 

You already know that lauric acid is good for the immune system. Keep in mind that the MCTs present in coconut oil contain 50% lauric acid. There is another benefit of lauric acid. It keeps the bad cholesterol under control and prevents problems related to the heart. It also keeps your blood pressure under check and may also prevent atherosclerosis. 


Helps in Weight Loss 

The fats present in coconut oil are converted into energy and are readily used by the body. This means no fat deposits on the body. It also boosts the metabolism by decreasing the pressure on the pancreas. When you consume foods cooked in coconut oil, you are more likely to burn calories and less likely to feel hungry. All these factors make coconut oil quite a good alternative for losing weight. 


Good for Controlling Blood Sugar Levels 

By promoting the secretion of insulin as well as the utilization of blood glucose, coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar levels. This is why it is especially recommended for people with diabetes. 


Good for the Bones and Teeth 

Coconut oil has been found to promote the absorption of minerals in the body. This means that your body is likely to absorb higher amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The result will, of course, be healthy bones and healthy teeth. This is especially useful for women, who are prone to bone loss or osteoporosis after menopause. Regular intake of coconut oil will ensure that your bones stay healthy even after reaching menopause.  

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Other Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil may also help people with chronic fatigue syndrome, prostate enlargement, epileptic seizures and kidney stones. Simply said, coconut oil is healthy and is a good replacement for other not-so-healthy oils. The oil also does not get rancid easily. This means that cooking will not destroy its nutrients. Just make sure that you buy virgin coconut oil to reap its health benefits.

Updated: 11/28/2012, Roohi
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Roohi on 11/06/2012

Katie, it is is indeed good for your health. Your personal experience is proof enough of this. Thank you very much for the additional tips. I am sure it's going to be quite helpful for others who are slightly in doubt about coconut oil. Thanks for stopping by!

Sheilamarie, I am glad you found the article useful. Indeed, coconut oil is quite misjudged. Try it and you will know that it is not at all an unhealthy oil but very healthy for all of us. Thanks for stopping by!

sheilamarie on 11/06/2012

Thanks for this very informative article on the benefits of coconut oil! You have given an in depth analysis which helps clarify earlier misconceptions.

katiem2 on 11/06/2012

I take two tablespoons, that's right you heard me, of coconut oil everyday! I'm thin, fit with the perfect cholesterol and blood pressure. I began taking it yeas ago after researching the topic. It is an amazing component to a optimal healthy life. I keep an extra jar on hand so I NEVER run out. I like the Barlean brand.

PLUS! It is vital to use only the cold pressed organic types. Great healthy tip! :)K

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