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The Power of Coconut Oil

We have previously written several articles on quinoa (e.g. this and this), chia seeds (e.g. this and this), cacao (e.g. this) and maca (e.g. this and this). However, we haven’t really went in-depth with Superfoods, which is why this week’s educative article centers around this miraculous superfood! Before we delve into the benefits of coconut oil, it would be useful to detail how coconut oil is made. There are two broad categories of coconut oil – those produced from copra, and those that begin with fresh coconut flesh. Copra refers to dried coconuts removed from their shells, but are by themselves inedible; in other words, coconut oil yielded by the method of the former requires further refining at a mass industrial level.[1] While the latter still requires some form of refinement (oil is by nature a refined product, because oil does not grow on a tree – the fruit/vegetable does!), it requires much less than the latter, which is why coconut oil yielded from fresh coconut flesh is called virgin coconut oil.[1] Such oil hence has natural coconut aromas and flavours and low viscosity. Below, we list a few health benefits that coconut oil can offer our bodies. Do note that because of its less-refined nature, virgin coconut oil tends to have these properties more so than copra coconut oil. (Superfoods is virgin in nature – we’re pretty sure you know what we’re insinuating! :D) 1. Coconut oil has powerful medicinal properties Coconut oil contains tons of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are fatty acids of a medium length. In contrast to long chain triglycerides (LCTs) which exist in most parts of our diet, MCTs are metabolised by our bodies differently, and the effect is improved brain function such as alertness[2], and a reduced risk to several brain disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.[3] 2. Coconut oil burns fat effectively Besides enabling coconut oil to be synonymous with apples (in “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), MCTs in coconut oil give it its fat-burning properties. When consumed, coconut oil has been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5% (approximately 120 calories per day) potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term, ceteris paribus.[4] 3. Coconut oil reduces hunger Having trouble with constant urges to snack? Besides the tips listed here and consuming chia seeds, choosing coconut oil over other types of oil helps you to rid yourself of these pangs. Again, there is evidence that MCTs have an appetite-reducing effect on bodies[5], which may positively affect body weight over the long term. To put things into perspective, when varying amounts of MCTs and LCTs were fed to a some healthy men in a study, those who ate the most MCTs consumed, on average, 256 fewer calories per day than those who ate the most LCTs.[6] 4. Coconut oil is great for oral health Swishing coconut oil in the mouth (a.k.a. oil pulling) has been used for centuries as a way to rid oral bacteria due to its high concentration of antibacterial MCTs.[7] Due to its MCT content, coconut oil acts as an ‘adhesive’ for bacteria – bacteria ‘sticks’ to it when it comes into contact with this powerful superfood. 5. Coconut oil effectively serves cosmetic purposes Besides taking care of you on the inside, coconut oil does wonders to your physical appearance as well. Firstly, studies have shown that coconut oil effectively moisturises dry skin[8], allowing it to be a substitute for hand lotion. Secondly, rubbing coconut oil against split ends of your hair tames it, along with any frizzes that your wild hair may have.[9] Also, coconut oil protects hair from solar damage – one study demonstrated its effectiveness as a sunscreen replacement through its ability to block out about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.[10]   References [1] Shilhavy, B. (2014). What type of coconut oil is best? How to choose a coconut oil. Health Impact News [online]. Retrieved from <http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil> [Accessed 16 August 2016]. [2] Brandon, B. (2015). Chapter 2: Total wellness. Coconut Oil for Health, p. 38. Massachusetts: Adams Media. [3] Gunnars, K. (2016). 10 proven health benefits of coconut oil. Authority Nutrition [online]. Retrieved from <https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil> [Accessed 16 August 2016]. [4] Dulloo, A. G., et al. (1996). 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. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 50(3), pp. 152-8. [5] McClernon, F. J., et al. (2007). The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms. Obesity (Silver Spring), 15(1), pp. 182-7. [6] Stubbs, R. J., & Harbron, C. G. (1996). Covert manipulation of the ratio of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men. International Journal of Obesity, 20(5), pp. 435-44. [7] Dr. Axe. (2016). Coconut oil pulling benefits & how-to guide. Dr. Axe [online]. Retrieved from <https://draxe.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil> [Accessed 16 August 2016]. [8] Agero, A. L., & Verallo-Rowell V. M. (2004). A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis, 15(3), pp. 109-16. [9] Dr. Axe. (2016). 20 secret ways to use coconut oil for skin. Dr. Axe [online]. Retrieved from <https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-for-skin> [Accessed 16 August 2016]. [10] Korać, R. R., & Khambholja, K. M. (2011). Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 5(10), pp. 164-73.

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