Coconut oil is high in fats called medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolised differently than most other fats. These special fats are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of coconut oil. Let’s take a quick look at them.
Coconut Oil has medicinal properties
Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most other fats in your diet.
These fats can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. They also raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk.
Most fats in the diet are called long-chain triglycerides, but the fats in coconut oil are known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). What this means is that the fatty acids are shorter than most other fats.
When you eat these types of fats, they go straight to the liver, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketones.
Ketones can have powerful benefits for the brain, and are being studied as treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
Coconut Oil can increase Fat Burning
This is one of our favourites. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase how many calories you burn compared to the same amount of calories from longer chain fats.
One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%, totalling about 120 calories per day.
Coconut Oil can curb hunger
The fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce appetite, which may lead to reduced body weight over the long term.
One interesting feature of the fatty acids in coconut oil is that they can reduce your hunger.
This may be related to the way the fats are metabolised, because ketones can have an appetite reducing effect.
In one study, varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men.
The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average.
Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch.
These studies were small and only done for short periods of time. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could help lead to reduced body weight over a period of several years.
Coconut Oil can help protect hair, skin and nails
Coconut oil has many uses that have nothing to do with eating it.
Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of the skin. It can also reduce symptoms of eczema.
Coconut oil can also be protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as a weak sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Coconut Oil can help you lose toxic abdominal fat
Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.
Coconut oil appears to be especially effective at reducing belly fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs.
This is the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many chronic Western diseases.
Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day led to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference over a period of 12 weeks.
Another study in 20 obese males noted a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches (2.86 cm) after 4 weeks of 30 mL (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day.
Coconut oil is still high in calories so you shouldn’t add a ton of it to your diet. But replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil could have a small weight loss benefit.