10 Proven Health Benefits of Coconut Oil That You Need to Know About

Is coconut oil healthy or not?

More than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats. The 2017 recommendations for saturated fats from the American Heart Association1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510
created some confusion as to whether it’s safe for people to consume coconut oil on a regular basis, and subsequent media reports have cast doubt on the health benefits of coconut oil.

Firstly, the AHA recommendations suggest 30 grams of saturated fats a day for men and 20 grams a day for women, which is about the equivalent of 2 tablespoons of coconut oil for men or 1.33 tablespoons for women, so total dietary intake of saturated fat within these recommendations is regarded by the AHA as safe.

Also, the saturated fat in coconut oil is comprised of approximately 60% medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs),2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1007/s11746-009-1435-y
which are more easily metabolized in comparison to long chain fatty acids found in animal fat. More than half the MCFA in coconut oil comes from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs),3✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMC: PMC4882694
which include the fatty acids caprylic acid, caproic acid and capric acid. Approximately 45%-53% of the MCFA consists of lauric acid, which behaves more like a long chain triglyceride than a MCT due to its slower absorption and digestion.

Research also suggests that coconut oil does not have the same pro-inflammatory properties that other saturated fats have, and that virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties.4✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-323-35868-2.00088-8

What are the types of coconut oil?

What is virgin coconut oil?

Virgin coconut oil is extracted from dried or fresh coconut meat by pressing. There are two pressing methods that are used, either cold pressed or expeller pressed. Some heat is used with expeller pressing whereas cold pressing is done without using heat, and is considered to be better for retaining the nutrients.

There are also two forms of coconut flesh that can be used for pressing, dried coconut or the fresh coconut flesh.

What is refined coconut oil?

Coconut oil that has been labeled as deodorized has been refined by heating and bleaching. This leaves the oil without the coconut flavor that virgin coconut oil has.

What is fractionated coconut oil?

Fractionation is when pressed coconut oil is heated just enough that the oil melts. When the oil is left to cool, the LCFAs as well as the lauric acid are removed, leaving only the capric and caprylic acid MCFAs. Fractionated coconut oil is also tasteless, and can remain liquid when refrigerated.

What is hydrogenated coconut oil

The unsaturated fat in coconut oil has been hydrogenated for extending shelf life and to help in maintaining its solidity.

What is the best coconut oil?

The best coconut oil to use is organic extra virgin coconut oil. This is cold pressed coconut oil, which has been used in all of the studies that this article refers to.

The chemicals and high temperatures used in manufacturing refined coconut oil can destroy the beneficial antioxidants found in coconut oil, and are not recommended. Fractionated coconut oil does not contain lauric acid, and has not been used in any of the studies mentioned in the article.5✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 19115123
Hydrogenated coconut oil contains trans fat and should be avoided.

Nutrients in Coconut

The saturated fat in coconut is nearly all the immune boosting medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) such as lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid. The flesh of a coconut consists of around 50% water and about 35% coconut oil, 10% carbohydrates, and 3.5% protein. Coconuts are a great source of molybdenum, manganese and copper. Coconut is also a good source of zinc and selenium.

Nutritional value of coconut oil per 100g:

  • How many calories in coconut oil – 862
  • How much protein is in coconut oil – 0g
  • How many carbs in coconut oil – 0g
  • What is the fat content of coconut oil – 100g

1 – Is coconut oil good for the skin?

Coconut oil for acne

Research shows that the antimicrobial properties of extra virgin coconut oil can have a powerful effect against acne. The lauric acid found in coconut oil has stronger antimicrobial activity, but that the capric acid also found in coconut oil is also effective.6✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 24284257

Coconut oil for eczema

Coconut oil has been shown to be superior to a mineral oil moisturizer for treating eczema.7✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 24320105

Coconut oil moisturizer

Coconut oil is a surprisingly non-oily moisturizer and has been shown to be as effective as a mineral oil moisturizer for treating a common skin condition characterized by dry and itchy skin.8✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 15724344

2 – Is coconut oil a good deodorant?

Commercial deodorants can contain harmful aluminum as well as toxic chemical fragrances.

Although the association between breast cancer and aluminum-based antiperspirants was dismissed due to lack of scientific evidence in a study from 2000,9✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1093/jnci/92.18.1469
other research has revealed that aluminum induces DNA damage as well as prevents the repair of damaged DNA.10✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2005.07.012
These are mechanisms that are well-known for the formation of cancer.11✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 29570697

Aluminum can be absorbed via the skin, and the possible accumulation of aluminum in the body in such close proximity to the breast is reason for concern. One study has showed that women who used deodorants and antiperspirants had higher concentrations of aluminum in their breasts and also had a higher risk for breast cancer.12✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.06.005

Coconut oil won’t prevent sweating, but the anti-bacterial properties are effective in helping to eliminate odors. Baking soda can be added to the oil to help prevent sweating.

How to make coconut oil deodorant?

Virgin coconut oil can be used by itself as a natural deodorant, or coconut oil can also be mixed with arrowroot and baking soda (ratio of 6:4:4), and essential oils can be added if desired.

3 – Is coconut oil good for your teeth?

Lauric acid is one of several MCFAs that has the ability to neutralize harmful mouth bacteria that can result in gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.13✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMC: PMC3119748

Researchers have revealed that the growth of the acid-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutans found in the mouth, and a major cause of tooth decay, is inhibited by coconut oil.14✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 18408265

Coconut oil that has been digested is capable of attacking the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. According to scientists, it’s a natural antibiotic which could also be integrated into commercially made dental hygiene products.15✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1471-230X-10-52

Is coconut oil pulling safe?

According to a study, coconut oil pulling is a safe and effective alternative to chemically formulated mouthwash.16✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 27084861

How to oil pull with coconut oil?

  1. It’s best to oil pull first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
  2. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth.
  3. Gently swish the oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes, making sure it gets between your teeth. Do not swallow any of the oil.
  4. Spit the oil out into the toilet.

4 – Is coconut oil good for weight loss?

Coconut oil promotes weight loss. Researchers have discovered that besides coconut oil not increasing body fat, it in fact produces a reduction in white fat stores.

In a study of obese mice that received a diet rich in either coconut or safflower oil, mice that received the coconut oil were found to have made much less fat cells than mice that received the safflower oil.17✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 16216548

Due to the fact that the medium-chain fats found in coconut are absorbed easily and made use of as a source of energy by the body preferentially, the body’s metabolic rate is actually increased.

How to use coconut oil for weight loss

A rice cooking method that involves adding about a teaspoon of coconut oil to half a cup of rice before cooking and then refrigerating for 12 hours, increases the amount of indigestible starch in the rice, resulting in low calorie rice.

5 – Is coconut oil good for dementia?

Is there any evidence for coconut oil and dementia?

To date, the strongest evidence for the potential use of coconut oil for treating dementia is anecdotal. When Dr Mary Newport’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she researched the condition and came to the understanding that it was a kind of diabetes of the brain. According to Dr Newport, the brain’s ability to utilize glucose starts to go before the plaques and tangles of neurons characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease become apparent.

The brain’s primary source of energy is glucose, and brain cells have difficulty metabolizing glucose in Alzheimer’s disease. The ketones produced when coconut oil is digested could provide an alternative fuel source for nourishing the brain.18✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-9-S2-S16
Ketones are produced when fat is converted into energy.

Dr Newport added a little more than two tablespoons of coconut oil to her husband’s oatmeal for breakfast every day. After 37 days, his gait had improved, he showed more facial animation, and there was an improvement in a cognitive test in which the individual draws a clock face.19✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25301680

Dr Newport’s study is supported by another study that assessed the cognitive impact of coconut oil enriched Mediterranean diet in which 44 Alzheimer’s disease patients received either a coconut oil enriched Mediterranean diet daily or a placebo diet for 21 days. The individuals receiving the coconut oil experienced significant improvements in certain cognitive functions.20✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180184

6 – Is coconut oil good for candida?

The results of an in vitro study revealed that coconut oil was more effective in comparison to the antifungal drug fluconazole against a variety of Candida species, which included Candida albicans. The researchers recommended that coconut oil should be used for treating fungal infections considering the emergence of drug-resistant Candida species.21✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 17651080

The capric acid in coconut oil is effective at killing all 3 strains of Candida albicans by disrupting or disintegrating the cell membrane which results in the cytoplasm (contents of the cell) shrinking.22✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 11600381

Caprylic acid, another fatty acid found in coconut oil has also been show to be effective in eliminating Candida, and has been shown to be superior to the anti-fungal drug fluconazole.23✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 21830350

The lauric acid found in coconuts as well as its derivative monolaurin which is converted from lauric acid in the body, is effective in eliminating various fungi, such as Candida albicans and ringworm.24✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 20008774

7 – Is coconut oil good for dry eyes?

Dry eyes are often a result of bacteria or inflammation and since coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it could be theoretically used as an alternative to an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eye drop.

A study has indicated that the anti-inflammatory properties of virgin coconut oil could be useful for treating dry eyes. Although the study was carried out on rabbits’ eyes, the results indicate that virgin coconut oil is safe to be used on human’s eyes.25✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1155/2015/135987

How to use coconut oil for dry eyes?

Place some coconut oil in a glass dropper bottle and stand the bottle in a bowl of hot water to liquefy the oil whenever you need to. Use a drop in each eye once or twice a day.

8 – Is coconut oil good for HIV?

Research has revealed that coconut oil reduces viral load in AIDS patients.[PDF]HIV attacks the white bloods cells, which are known as T4 cells. Virus severity can be determined by the amount of T4 cells in the body, which is known as the CD4 count.

For the study 14 HIV infected patients received 3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 6 months without the use of any other treatment.  After 6 months, 60% of the individuals had an increased CD4 count, a reduced viral load, and improved overall health.

Another study has concluded that coconut oil supplementation of 15 ml 3 times a day for 6 weeks increased CD4 count in HIV patients.26✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.37833/cord.v32i1.46

These studies confirm several anecdotal reports that coconut oil does in fact have anti-viral properties and can be beneficial in the reduction of the viral load of patients with HIV.

9 – Is coconut oil good for cancer?

Research has shown that consumption of virgin coconut oil by breast cancer patients during chemotherapy improves symptoms such as dyspnea, fatigue, loss of appetite and sleep difficulties, and also reduces the symptoms related to chemotherapy side effects.27✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25163649

An in vitro study has demonstrated that twice a day treatment with the coconut oil’s lauric acid kills more than 90 percent of colon cancer cells.28✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 24356281

The lauric acid in coconut oil has bactericidal activity against the helicobacter pylori bacteria that can increase the risk cancer of the stomach.29✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 8834870

10 – Is coconut oil good for arthritis?

A study has revealed that antioxidants extracted from virgin coconut oil were more effective in reducing arthritis inflammation than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug called Indometacin, which is often prescribed for arthritis.30✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 24613207

Where does coconut oil come from?

The coconut palm is believed to have come from someplace in the Malayan archipelago and was soon spread by nature and man. Herb infused coconut has been made use of in Ayurvedic medicine for nearly 4,000 years as an effective parasitic skin disease treatment.

Approximately 20 billion coconuts are harvested every year, and even though the Philippines, Indonesia and India are the major producers, the coconut palm also grows in the tropical regions of Asia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands and East Africa.

10 Proven Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil That You Need To Know About

Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash