What’s fascinating about the coconut palm is virtually every part of it can be used, from the leaves and husk for decorating and furnishing to the shell of the coconut for making spoons and charcoal. Needless to say, the coconut flesh and water are of immense use for us too. In fact, coconut, or more specifically, coconut oil is one of the few foods to be classified as a super food. Read on to find out the benefits of coconuts our Fresh Start ultimate guide:
1. Comprises of fatty acids with potent medicinal properties
Coconut oil had a bad reputation in the market for the past few decades due to it containing saturated fats. This part is actually true. 90 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated and it is one of the richest known sources of saturated fats. Have a look at its nutritional content here.
But the reason coconut oil is gaining popularity is that the saturated fat in this oil is completely harmless. Numerous studies with large numbers of participants show that saturated fat is not linked to clogging of arteries or heart disease. In addition, coconut oil doesn’t contain the same saturated fats as a steak anyway.
Coconut oil consists of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are medium length fatty acids. It’s a healthier form of saturated fat, which is metabolized in the liver and quickly converted to energy for muscle and brain function or ketone bodies that can be beneficial for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy, instead of being stored in the body as fat.
Note: While purchasing coconut oil, choose organic virgin coconut oil and not the refined kind to reap its complete set of benefits.
2. Contains lauric acid
If you haven’t heard of lauric acid before, it’s important that you first understand that it’s pretty awesome. Lauric acid in coconut oil can destroy bacteria, fungi and viruses and ward of infections. 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. When digested, coconut oil also forms a compound called monolaurin, which together with lauric acid helps eliminate harmful pathogens in the body. A study in the 2000 issue of the Journal of Bacteriology showed that these two compounds can kill Staphylococcus aureus, a dangerous pathogen. Another study showed that it can also kill Candida albicans, an yeast responsible for yeast infections.
3. Helps you lose weight
Coconut oil cannot magically help you lose weight while your lifestyle is missing a proper diet and physical activity. However, coconut oil can curb your cravings and reduce hunger, thus preventing overeating. This may be linked to how fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized in the body. According to this study, when digested, coconut oil forms ketone bodies, which can suppress your appetite.
4. Helps you burn more fat
Weight gain is not only linked to your calorie intake, it’s linked to the sources of these calories too. Not all calories are created the same. Different foods affect your body differently. As we talked about earlier, the MCTs in coconut oil are metabolized differently in the body and they can be converted to more energy than longer chain fatty acids.
According to one study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 15 to 30 grams of MCTs increased the 24 hour energy expenditure among participants by up to 5 percent – which totals up to 120 calories per day!
Furthermore, coconut oil is found to be effective in reducing the most dangerous fat in the body, abdominal fat, which linked to a myriad of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Abdominal fat accumulates in the belly region and around all organs in the abdominal cavity. One study with 40 female participants with abdominal obesity showed that consuming one ounce of coconut oil per day resulted in a substantial drop in waist circumference and BMI over a period of 12 weeks.
5. Improves digestion
Studies show that coconut oil may help ease digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties which can help eliminate parasites or bad bacteria in the gut linked to poor digestion and IBS symptoms.
6. Manages type-2 diabetes
Coconut oil may also protect the body against insulin resistance, thereby, reducing your risk of type-2 diabetes. The MCTs are smaller than longer length fatty acids in trans-fat and can be easily absorbed into cells, thus being quickly converted to energy. This reduces the amount of fat being stored and improves your insulin sensitivity.
7. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s
Coconut oil can also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to one study, the ketone bodies formed during coconut oil digestion supplies energy to the brain and can act as an alternative fuel source for poorly functioning brain cells, hence, reducing symptoms of the disease. Another 2006 study showed that regular consumption of MCTs leads to significant and rapid improvement in brain function among patients with milder Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Prevents heart disease
One study with 40 female participants showed that coconut oil actually reduced total cholesterol and LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (the good kind) levels in the body compared to soybean oil. This could lead to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases in the long term.
Uses of coconuts and coconut oil
Nothing in a coconut goes to waste. The following are some great uses of coconuts that you’ll definitely try today:
• Coconut milk in food
Coconut milk is made using coconut flesh and water. Simply remove the flesh from the shell, put it in a blender with some water and pass the liquid through a sieve. You can also purchase coconut milk or coconut cream from any food store. Coconut milk can be used as an alternative for cream and milk and can be whisked to form whipped cream too. It’s a great option for those who are lactose intolerant. Best of all, it’s delicious and makes a killer chicken curry. You can even add it to your smoothies as an alternative for milk.
• Hair and beauty
You can also use coconut milk to cleanse your face. Coconut milk and coconut oil are packed with nutrients your skin loves, which is why they’re used in many soaps and beauty products nowadays. Studies show that coconut oil can elevate moisture and lipid contents of the skin, making it smoother and suppler.
Another great use of coconut oil is in oil cleansing. Massage a coin size amount of coconut oil into your skin for a minute or two to encapsulate the dirt and bacteria in your pores and remove them from your skin. Wash the oil with a gentle water-based cleanser and you’re good to go!
You can also massage it into your scalp to reduce dandruff, strengthen hair strands and nourish your hair. Indians use pure coconut on their hair regularly, which explains why their hair is used for extensions worldwide!
• Improve dental health
Another great use of coconut oil is using it as a mouth wash. This process is called oil pulling, which helps eliminate harmful bacteria in the mouth, reduce bad breath and boost dental health.
• Coconut water as a refreshing drink
Coconut water is also called nature’s sports drink for a reason. It’s a powerful hydrator as it’s packed with electrolytes that are lost through sweat. One cup of coconut oil gives you more than 10 percent of your daily potassium requirements. It tastes delicious on its own but if you’re not a fan, blend it with pineapples and ice for a refreshing tropical drink.
• Coconut flour for baking
Coconut flour packs a great flavor punch to baked goods. 2 tablespoons of coconut flour contains 5 grams of fibre and 2 grams of total and saturated fat. Coconut flour is a great alternative for white flour and it reduces the glycemic index in baked goods, making it super-friendly for diabetics and those who wish to improve their overall health and well-being.
If you’re looking for a healthy dessert/snack to kill your sugar cravings, try making a batch of dark chocolate coconut truffles. This requires only three main ingredients, dates for sweetness, unsweetened cocoa and coconut flour. Simply soak 2 cups of pitted dates in one cup of boiling water to soften the dates. Leave it for 30 to 40 minutes and transfer the dates only without the water into a food processor. Add in 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa (depending on how bitter you like it, you can even use dark cacao nibs) and ¾ cup of coconut flour. Continue until you get a dough-like paste. Additional flavors such as cinnamon, vanilla or coffee are optional. We vote for vanilla!
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until very cold and form small balls on parchment paper. Make them fancy by dipping them in dark chocolate and covering them with organic shredded coconut or almonds. Yum.
We love coconuts and we are very fortunate because there is an abundance of them at the Thailand Fitness Boot camp!
We hope you enjoy and take advantage of the many benefits of coconuts. If you would like to come to see us here is the link Book here!