Coconut Oil: Is It Good for You?


Coconut oil is a type of edible oil obtained from pressing the flesh inside a coconut. It has a solid texture at room temperature but turns into a liquid when heated. Coconut oil has a rich cultural heritage in countries such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Polynesia, and Indonesia where coconut trees are abundant.

In recent times, it has gained popularity worldwide due to its versatile nature. Coconut oil can be found in a variety of products such as hair care products, food items, sunscreen, and deodorant. Its delicious flavor and adaptable qualities make it a popular ingredient in many different products. Additionally, it is often used as a dairy substitute in recipes for individuals with allergies or who follow plant-based diets.

Coconut oil is extracted from the nuts of the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera). There are two primary categories of coconut oil, copra oil, and virgin coconut oil. Both types contain similar levels of fatty acids, but virgin coconut oil has a higher concentration of nutrients such as Vitamin E and polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that have antioxidant properties.

Coconut oil is a nutritious food that can offer numerous health benefits. It is rich in fatty acids, essential for the human body, and may enhance cognitive function, metabolism, and improve hair and skin health.

Coconut Oil Nutrition

One serving of coconut oil (1 tablespoon) contains the following:

  • Calories: 125
  • Total fat: 14 gr
  • Saturated fat: 12 gr
  • Trans fat: 0 gr
  • Cholesterol: 0 gr
  • Sodium: 0 gr
  • Total carbohydrates: 0 gr
  • Protein: 0 gr

The following nutrients and minerals are found in coconut oil:

  • Lauric acid 
  • Myristic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Plant sterols
  • Medium-chain triglycerides ( MCTs )

Coconut Oil Benefits 

Coconut oil has therapeutic qualities that can alleviate a variety of health concerns.

Weight Loss


Lauric acid is a kind of saturated fat present in coconut oil and it has the highest concentration of lauric acid among all natural sources. Research suggests that lauric acid is directed towards the liver where it is transformed into energy instead of being stored as body fat, which may lead to weight loss. However, further evidence is needed to establish that consuming coconut oil specifically leads to weight loss and improved metabolism.

Here are some ways in which coconut oil may potentially aid in weight loss:

- As a cooking oil: Coconut oil is a versatile oil that can be used for cooking, baking, and sautéing. Replacing other cooking oils with coconut oil in your diet can potentially help with weight loss, as it contains medium-chain fatty acids that are metabolized differently from other types of fats.

- As a dietary supplement: Coconut oil can be taken orally, either on its own or mixed into smoothies, drinks, or food. The idea behind this is that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil can be burned for energy instead of being stored as fat.

- In conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise: Using coconut oil as a supplement to a well-balanced diet and regular physical activity can potentially aid in weight loss, as it provides energy and helps reduce cravings. However, it's important to note that simply incorporating coconut oil into your diet without making other changes will not lead to significant weight loss.

It's always recommended to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new weight loss regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.

Improved Skin and Hair Health


Coconut oil is being widely used in cosmetic products for hair, skin, nails, and teeth due to its moisturizing properties. It has been proven to be a safe and efficient moisturizer for conditions such as xerosis, or dry and rough skin. Furthermore, it can reduce protein loss in hair, leading to improved hair health.

However, one study has indicated that coconut oil has comedogenic properties, meaning it can block pores. As a result, it may not be the best option for individuals with dark skin or skin that is prone to oiliness and acne.

Coconut oil can be used to improve skin and hair health in a number of ways. Some of the most popular methods include:

- Moisturizer: Coconut oil can be used as a daily moisturizer for the face and body. It is easily absorbed into the skin and provides long-lasting hydration.

- Hair conditioner: Coconut oil can be used as a deep conditioning treatment for the hair. Simply massage a small amount into the hair and scalp, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it out.

- Lip balm: Coconut oil can be used to moisturize and protect the lips. Simply apply a small amount to the lips as needed.

- Cuticle cream: Coconut oil can be used to soften and nourish the cuticles. Simply massage a small amount into the cuticles and nails.

- Eye cream: Coconut oil can be used as a natural eye cream to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Simply apply a small amount to the under-eye area.

Note: It is important to perform a patch test before using coconut oil on the skin, as some people may be allergic to it.

Improved Brain Function


Further research is necessary to make a definitive statement regarding the impact of consuming coconut oil on cognitive function. Nonetheless, the chemicals present in the oil, particularly ketones, have been linked with reducing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by offering alternative energy sources for damaged brain cells.

There are several ways to use coconut oil to potentially improve brain function:

- Consuming coconut oil: Adding coconut oil to your diet may help provide a source of ketones, which have been linked to improving brain function, especially in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

- Cooking with coconut oil: Coconut oil is a versatile oil that can be used in cooking, baking, and frying. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil are easily converted into ketones by the liver, which can be used as an alternative energy source for the brain.

- Topical application: Coconut oil can also be used topically on the skin and scalp. When applied, it can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which can have a positive impact on brain function.

It's important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of coconut oil on brain function. While it may offer potential benefits, it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or routine.

Coconut Oil Risks


While some studies have indicated that coconut oil can increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol, other studies have shown that compared to oils such as olive oil, coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol levels, which is known as the "bad" cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol can increase the likelihood of developing heart diseases or having a stroke.

The American Heart Association advises that only a small portion of daily calories, about 5-6 percent, should come from saturated fats. This translates to 11 to 13 grams of saturated fats per day for someone who requires approximately 2,000 calories daily.

One tablespoon of coconut oil contains approximately 12 grams of saturated fat, meaning it's easy to consume too much saturated fat if you consume more than one serving. Excessive intake of saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.


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