The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is having a moment in the health world. Once thought of as a bad fat because it contains saturated fatty acids, we now know that the saturated fats in coconut oil are different, and may bring many health benefits. A seriously versatile oil, it can be used both internally and externally for all round health.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but melts as soon as it warms up – including when applied to the skin. It has a relatively high smoke point, meaning it won’t burn easily when used for high-heat cooking like stir-fries and oven-baking. This is important because when oils burn, the fatty acids they contain oxidise and become harmful.

Saturated fats in coconut oil are different from other oils, and may bring many health benefits

Virgin coconut oil is best for health although it does have a mild coconutty taste, which most people don’t mind. For times when you don’t want any coconut flavour, you can find naturally deodorised coconut oil, which has no flavour or smell making it great for any kind of cooking, although the health benefits are reduced. As well as using coconut oil for everyday cooking, a tbsp of virgin coconut oil can be added to smoothies.

The health benefits of consuming coconut oil are numerous
Energy source – coconut is used differently in the body, because it contains more long and medium-chain fats that are sent directly to the liver as a source of energy. It doesn’t require any bile acids to break it down, so it’s safe for those with gall bladder issues to consume.
Weight loss and fat burning – coconut oil is thought to boost the metabolism, as well as being a safe food to consume during intermittent fasting. It even boosts a fat-burning state called ketosis, for those that choose this approach.
Immune boosting – most of the medium-chain fats in coconut oil are in the form of lauric acid, which converts to monolaurin in the body. Lauric acid is found in human breast milk and has been found to help fight viruses. It may even help protect against cancer.
Anti-inflammatory – research has found that coconut oil can reduce systemic inflammation.
Anti-microbial – monolaurin, the breakdown product of lauric acid, has been found to inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes, like Candida, in the gut.
Vitamin absorption – eating coconut oil provides a healthy source of fat to boost absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and E, and the antioxidants found in colourful foods.
Heart Health – there is some evidence that coconut oil may be cardio-protective due to its beneficial effect on HDL cholesterol levels.
Coconut oil is also a fantastic beauty treatment for your skin and hair
Body oil – scooped straight out of the jar and rubbed into skin after showering, it is an effective and chemical free body moisturiser
Problem skin treatment – the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of coconut oil make it helpful for eczema, psoriasis, fungal skin infections and acne
Cleanser – massaged into the face and removed with a warm flannel or muslin cloth it effectively removes make up
Hair treatment – massaged through the hair, left overnight and washed out in the morning, it adds softness and shine, as well as being great for itchy scalps and dandruff

Coconut oil can even improve oral health – more and more people are realising the benefits of oil pulling, an Ayurveda practice involving swishing coconut oil around the mouth, and ‘pulling’ it through teeth, to remove toxins and bacteria, before spitting out and brushing.


About Author

Emma is a natural health practitioner, writer, blogger and recipe creator with a love of good food and a passion for spreading the wellness word. Trained in nutritional medicine, kinesiology, energy medicine and aromatherapy, Emma offers a truly holistic, gentle and effective approach to wellbeing, offering a tailor-made blend of therapies designed to match your health needs.