When you think of coconuts, what comes to mind? Somewhere tropical, beaches, the sounds of the ocean, and the smell of sunscreen, right?
Hopefully, you’re reading this blog in a location just like that while sipping a drink from a coconut, though, more than likely that tropical coconut drink is not happening at the all-inclusive vacation package that is your backyard.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tropical splendor of the fruit, though. Especially in the form of coconut oil.
Real quick, coconut oil is exactly what it sounds like – oil machine-pressed out of fresh coconut meat. And technically, if you really need that refreshing, tropical drink, well, you actually can drink coconut oil — but you’ll probably want to add it to tea or coffee first.
Because here’s the thing about it – it’s actually good for you. Like really good for your body, inside and out.
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are partially man-made saturated fats with fatty acids containing six to 12 carbon molecules. And while saturated fats often are vilified, the MCTs in coconut oil are broken down, then processed by the liver into extra energy instead of getting broken down and turned into cholesterol like longer fatty acid chains.
And that energy boost is not the only thing that makes it good for you, either.
Coconut oil can actually increase the number of calories you burn. Seriously. MCTs and MCT oil have fat-burning properties. Plus, MCT oil can release peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that will make you feel full for longer. Obviously, feeling fuller for longer means you won’t get caught snacking throughout the day, which is probably where most of us could stand to cut back a little.
Now, it’s important to note that MCT oil and the MCTs found in coconut oil are not exactly the same thing. However, because coconut oil is rich with naturally-found MCTs, it has most of the same benefits of 100% MCT oil.
Coconut oil is also a good source of antioxidants like tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols, flavonoids, and polyphenols, which are known for being anti-inflammatory, protecting your brain, and anti-diabetic.
While studies are inconclusive, there is some research on coconut oil reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, due to providing an alternate energy source for brain cells. It also helps prevent seizures by increasing blood ketones, which are produced when your body doesn’t get enough glucose. Basically, your brain uses the fats from coconut oil for energy instead of glucose.
Need an even greater infomercial pitch? You got it, because, there’s more! Coconut oil won’t only make you feel good on the inside, but it’ll make you look good on the outside, too!
Due to its lauric acid content, which helps fight bacteria, coconut oil can be used as mouthwash. If you do, it’ll lather up on your teeth like shampoo. As weird as that sounds, the acid will get a deep clean on your teeth that’ll prevent cavities and plaque buildup. Just make sure not to swallow your coconut oil-turned-mouthwash, as lauric acid can be irritating.
Now that summer’s finally come, and swimming in chlorine pools is more likely, you’ll want to protect your skin. Coconut oil can do that, too. Of course, you shouldn’t use oil as sunscreen – you’ll burn to a crisp. However, coconut oil can be used to treat dry, flaky skin, which is common after spending the day in the pool. If used on damp skin or over a regular moisturizer, coconut oil can help seal moisture into your skin, reducing redness and inflammation.
So, you’re burning more calories, your brain is protected, and your skin and teeth look good? You’re probably wondering where’s the catch.
Well, it’s still oil. So, just like that tropical vacation doesn’t come without a hefty price tag, you can’t ingest a ton of oil loaded with saturated fats without increasing your waistline or even putting you at risk for heart disease.
That said, small doses of it are like those quick getaways that often are just what you need for your overall health.