If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big fan of coconut oil. Not only does it have a myriad of uses, it’s also exceedingly effective at many of them! Last week, I wrote about the benefits of using coconut oil on your skin and in your hair. Today, I’d like to take a look at the internal benefits of coconut oil and some of my favorite recipes for how to include them in your daily life!
There’s a lot of exciting new research about coconut oil. For the last 60 years, the media and many health care officials have decried saturated fats as bad for your health.
The fact is all saturated fats are not created the same. Some saturated fats occur naturally, while other fats are artificially manipulated into a saturated state through the man-made process hydrogenation. These manipulated, saturated fats are also commonly known as trans-fats.
Coconut oil is different. It contains naturally occurring saturated fats known as long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are good for the body.
New research shows that coconut oil can supply the brain with a very clean source of energy. The chemical structure of the MCTs in coconut oil can help lift brain fog and help with focus and concentration. In 2004, a study published in the Neurobiology of Aging journal determined that coconut oil MCTs improved cognitive function, memory problems and even Alzheimer's symptoms.
Have you heard of tocotrienols? I hadn’t either until I started doing some research. Tocotrienols are part of the vitamin E family, which is an essential nutrient for the body. Tocotrienols are found in certain foods including some vegetables, barley and wheat germ, as well as other types of seeds and nuts. It turns out coconut oil is quite high in tocotrienols!
The health benefits of tocotrienols became evident in the 1980's and 1990's. According to the Nutrition and Metabolism journal, tocotrienols possess powerful neuroprotective, antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties—more amazing reasons for adding coconut oil to your daily diet!
Research also shows that lauric acid, which makes up 50% of coconut oil’s saturated fats, can increase the body’s production of monolaurin. Monolaurin is a biologically active molecule that has antibacterial effects. In addition, virgin coconut oil has also shown anti-inflammatory properties.
Let’s recap: Coconut oil is good for memory and overall health. But, did you know studies have also shown that coconut oil is very useful for weight loss. It contains fatty acids that help in ridding the body of excessive weight. These are natural fats— LCTs and MCTs. Research shows that when these healthy fats break down in the liver it leads to efficient burning of energy.
What does this mean? A 2009 Brazilian study investigated the effects of the consumption of coconut oil on a group of 40 women aged 20-40 years old with abdominal obesity. All subjects were given supplements of either soybean oil or coconut oil over the period of 12 weeks. All women consumed the same amount of calories and were told to walk for 50 minutes daily. At the end of the study the women who consumed coconut oil had significantly higher HDL (good cholesterol), and an improved LDL : HDL ratio. The women in this study who consumed coconut oil daily also showed reduced abdominal size!
According to a 2010 study conducted by the New York Obesity Research Center and College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia, men and women who consumed MCTs as part of their diet lost more weight than those who consumed olive oil as part of a weight-loss program.
Another positive effect of coconut oil is that it may reduce your appetite. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those in the study who included higher levels of MCTs at a meal ate significantly fewer calories at the next meal.
Coconut oil can help to improve the digestive system. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria and parasites that can cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins and amino acids. I give my son with digestive issues a tablespoon a day and it has helped significantly with his tummy problems. I also add it to our dog’s food, and look for any excuse to include it in our daily diet through smoothies and drizzling it over food.
Coconut oil works wonders for the health of your teeth and gums. When you swoosh the oil in your mouth, microbes are picked up and drawn to the oil like a powerful magnet. It also draws out bacteria hiding in spaces that cannot be reached when brushing and flossing. It naturally whitens and brightens without the use of toxic chemicals and bleaching solutions. Since I do not allow my children to use any type of mouthwash, they can use it as part of their daily oral care.
Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price studied the lives of South Pacific Islanders. He found their eating habits high in saturated fats due to the importance of coconut in their local diets. Even with a diet high in saturated fats, Dr. Price found the islanders healthy and trim, with virtually no instances of heart disease.
In 2004, a study was conducted to investigate how ingestion of coconut oil affected laboratory animals. Those who consumed virgin coconut oil, showed lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), as well as increased HDL (good cholesterol).
If you’d like to learn more about how coconut oil benefits the heart, check out Lifestyle Habits and a Healthy Heart. It includes my favorite smoothie recipe, too!
There are easy ways to incorporate coconut oil into your daily life. Try blending into your hot coffee or tea. Just mix hot coffee or tea with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (I prefer Brain & Body Boost Coconut Oil) in a blender, add your choice of cream (if you use cream) and blend together for about 30 seconds! My family and I also add it to our hot oatmeal, cereal and smoothies! Get creative, or try my recipes below!
Toss together and drizzle with Brain Boost Salad Dressing.
Combine all ingredients together using a blender or food processor, or place in a glass jar with well-sealed lid and shake until ingredients are combined. Store salad dressing at room temperature in glass container with lid. I use recycled glass jars. Brain Boost Salad dressing will last for three days.
In the mood for something a little sweet and filled with a powerful punch of protein, omega's, and MCT's? Try these easy to make Brain Boost Balls!
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to one week.