8 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and How to Use It

Coconut oil contains several bioactive compounds with antioxidant properties, such as phenolic acid and medium-chain fatty acids, bringing several health benefits, such as helping to lower cholesterol, regulate blood glucose levels and acting as an antiviral and antifungal in various infections.

Coconut oil is a product that can be obtained from dried or fresh coconuts, and is called refined or extra virgin coconut oil, respectively. Extra virgin coconut oil is the one that brings the most health benefits, as it does not undergo refining processes, does not lose nutrients and is not subjected to high temperatures.

Natural coconut oil is very versatile, because in addition to being used in food to season salads or prepare recipes, for example, it can also be used as a facial moisturizer or as a mask to strengthen hair.

Benefits of coconut oil

The main benefits of coconut oil are:

1. Lowers cholesterol

Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids, such as lauric acid and oleic acid, which have a hypocholesterolemic effect, as they help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, preventing cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.

2. Fights virus infection

Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid and its derivative, monolaurin, which act against some viruses, inactivating their effects and helping in the treatment of associated diseases, such as measles, vesicular stomatitis and cytomegalovirus.

3. Helps fight candidiasis

Some studies indicate that coconut oil contains fatty acids with antifungal properties that help reduce the development and growth of Candida sp. Therefore, coconut oil could be indicated to complement the treatment prescribed by the doctor.

4. Keep your skin healthy

Coconut oil has moisturizing properties due to the presence of fatty acids in its composition, helping to improve the appearance of dry and rough skin, and can be applied directly to the skin in the form of oil or cream.

Additionally, the antioxidant properties of coconut oil help delay the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin that can be caused by aging. Coconut oil can also be used to complement the treatment of various skin problems, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other infections.

5. Take care of your hair

Coconut oil is one of the best nutrients for hair, as it provides essential proteins to nourish the scalp, promoting the growth of healthy hair. Therefore, coconut oil is widely used in the industry to manufacture various products, such as conditioners, hair oils and hydrating masks.

6. Helps with weight loss

Some studies indicate that coconut oil could contribute to weight loss, as it contains medium-chain fatty acids. These fat molecules pass through the liver, where they are used to produce energy and increase energy expenditure. The energy produced is used by the brain and heart, and is not stored in adipose tissue in the form of fat, thus favoring the oxidation of fats. In addition, it could also reduce hunger, as it is capable of promoting satiety.

However, more studies are still needed on the effect of coconut oil on weight loss and, therefore, it is not recommended to consume this oil in large quantities, as it is a fat with a high caloric value.

7. Helps regulate blood glucose

The monounsaturated acids and antioxidant compounds present in coconut oil improve the functioning of the beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for releasing insulin into the body. Insulin is the hormone needed to balance blood sugar levels, making it an important food for preventing and controlling diabetes.

8. Helps treat Alzheimer’s

The medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil have the potential to act in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, as these fatty acids are easily absorbed, metabolized by the liver and converted to ketone bodies, functioning as an alternative source of energy, helping with cognitive function.

However, more studies are still needed to evaluate the activity of coconut oil in Alzheimer’s.

Coconut Oil Nutritional Information

The following table provides nutritional information for 100 grams and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil:

Components Coconut oil – 100 g Coconut oil -1 tablespoon
Energy 895 kcal 104 kcal
Fats 99.1 g 11.5 g
Saturated fat 82.5 g 9.57 g
Monounsaturated fat 6.31 g 0.732 g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.7g 0.197 g
Proteins 0 g 0 g
Carbohydrates 0.84 g 0.097 g

To obtain the benefits of coconut oil mentioned above, it is important to include it in small portions and as part of a balanced and healthy diet, in addition to practicing physical activity regularly.

How to use coconut oil

Coconut oil is widely used in cooking in a variety of ways: to season salads, prepare vegetables and meats or be incorporated into recipes.

To do this, simply replace the fat you normally use, such as sunflower oil, butter or olive oil, for example, with extra virgin coconut oil. However, as with other oils, due to the high amount of calories, it is not recommended to use more than 1 tablespoon in each main meal.

In addition, coconut oil can be used for cosmetic purposes to prepare homemade hair masks, and is usually combined with other ingredients such as honey, avocado or olive oil. Due to its moisturizing properties, coconut oil can also be used to moisturize the skin, and should be applied directly to the skin in the form of a cream or as an oil.

Other common uses for coconut oil include as a lip balm or to prevent stretch marks, as it helps keep the skin more elastic.

How to make coconut oil at home

Coconut oil can also be prepared at home, as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 3 glasses of coconut water;
  • 2 brown coconuts, peeled and cut into small pieces.

Method of preparation:

The first step to making coconut oil is to blend all the ingredients in a blender or mixer, then strain it using a clean cloth and place the liquid in a bottle, which should remain in a dark place for 48 hours. After this period, place the bottle in a cool place, away from light, for another 6 hours.

After 6 hours, you need to place the bottle upright in the refrigerator for 3 hours. This will solidify the coconut oil and to remove it, you must cut the bottle where you can see the separation of water and oil, using only the oil, which should be transferred to a container with a lid.

Coconut oil becomes suitable for consumption when it becomes liquid, there is no need to store it in the refrigerator.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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