What is coconut oil?
The benefits of coconut oil are extensive and administration of the product can vary based on the outcome you wish to achieve. A primary benefit is believed to be coconut oil’s ability to reduce the onset of heart disease. This is because it contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, which increases HDL (high density lipids) leading to improved blood lipid profiles. Alternative fats such as butter – rich in another form of saturated fat: palmitic acid – doesn’t provide the body with the same boost in HDL: the good cholesterol.
Coconut oil also has the ability to assist in weight loss due to its medium chain fatty acid content. This form of fatty acid is metabolized in a unique, fast way, changing its destination to either be used quickly to provide energy or alternatively to generate ketone bodies. This metabolic pathway leads to increased energy expenditure, leading to a slight increase in calories expended per day (1).
Other, more superficial health benefits from include hair and skin benefits via direct application to the area, acting as a powerful conditioner and moisturizing respectively.
Whilst the benefits mentioned above are extensive and will impact your health in a positive way, there is a slight drawback with coconut oil consumption. This is that along with increasing HDL, it will also boost your LDL (low density lipids) – something not always stipulated by many media outlets. Based on this there are alternative fat sources, such as olive oil and avocado, that surpass coconut oil at deliver improve lipid profiles and reducing the onset of heart disease.
1. Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate amounts of medium-chain triglycerides: a dose-response study in a human respiratory chamber. Dulloo AG, Fathi M, Mensi N, Girardier L. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Mar;50(3):152-8.