Coconut oil has been recently making a name for itself amongst health circles, where it’s steadily hurtling towards superfood status. Research might still be in its infancy, but this wonder oil is already proving to come loaded with health benefits.
Coconut oil is, essentially, the oil extracted from the meaty part of a coconut. This oil consists of two types – refined and unrefined – according to how it’s extracted from the coconut kernel. Unrefined, or virgin coconut oil is purer and fresher than the refined type and tends to be of better quality, although is more expensive.
Coconut oil is incredibly versatile and earns its place in the kitchen and bathroom. As it remains solid and stable at room temperature, it’s useful for cooking or baking but it’s also a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products.
The oil of this tropical fruit has been causing something of a buzz due to its numerous health benefits:
What sets coconut oil apart is that it’s rich in something called medium chain fatty acids, in particular, lauric acid. These unique acids give the body an instant energy boost and are directed straight to the liver instead of being stored as fat. Studies also indicate that medium chain fatty acids can increase endurance and performance while stimulating metabolism.
Better brain functioning
Initial studies have shown that a type of energy called ketones is released when medium chain fatty acids (such as those found in coconut oil) are consumed. Ketones can flood the brain with energy and may be helpful in improving the memory of those who suffer from dementia.
Medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil score top marks again – in this case, they have been shown to burn more calories compared to other types of fatty acids. Thus, if you want to lose weight, coconut oil may lend a helping hand.
Immune system support
A virtue of lauric acid found in coconut oil is that it contains antimicrobial properties. These are thought to reduce inflammation in the body and can help support a healthy immune system.
Good for heart health
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats. Although we tend to think of saturated fats as a source of health-harming cholesterol, the natural fats found in this oil are thought to increase the good cholesterol in the body and lower the bad type. This, in turn, could be beneficial to heart health.
Improve skin conditions
It’s no coincidence that coconut oil is a top ingredient used in many skin care products. When applied topically, this oil provides a natural, moisturising boost to the skin, so is ideal for anyone suffering from dry or itchy skin conditions. Some people also report that coconut oil protects their hair from sun damage.
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