From coconut water to coconut milk, from coconut flour to coconut butter, the world has gone completely coconuts – and with good reason. Often readily available and pocket-friendly, this super food brain power, flawless skin and a tiny waistline. What else can one ask for?
The health-conscious are in on the coco-locomotion too as we are now spending £60 million per year on coconut water – up by 64% from last year – and £14 million a year on coconut oil. The UK is also one of the biggest importers of desiccated coconut.
One reason for the coconut’s global popularity is its amazing health benefits. Who knew there was so much goodness in such hard to crack brown nuts?
I start with this one as it hits close to home – around my gut, to be more specific.
In Brazil, researchers found that taking just two tablespoons of coconut oil a day can whittle your waistline in the long run – even without exercise!
In another study in 40 women with abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day led to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in a period of 12 weeks Another study in 20 obese males noted a reduction in waist circumference of 2.86 cm (1.1 inches) after 4 weeks of 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil per day.
If you wish to get into the scientific nitty gritty, it’s this simple: Coconut fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) –fatty acids of a medium length – and thus the human body is more likely to use them for energy than store them up as body fat. Cue the increased metabolism and the decreased waistline.
As we age, so does our brain, becoming more prone to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Studies have confirmed the benefit of coconut oil to people suffering from Alzheimer’s. In one 2006 study, consumption of medium chain triglycerides led to immediate improvement in brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s. Other studies since have confirmed these benefits. Essentially, fatty acids in coconut oil can increase blood levels of ketone bodies, supplying energy for the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and relieving symptoms.
There is also evidence that MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in epileptic children.
Immune System Supporter
Packed with antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-parasitic healing properties, coconut helps to aid and support overallImmune System functions. Monolaurin has been shown to boost the immune system by warding off certain viruses and fungi, and almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil contains lauric acid which when digested produced monolaurin, making it your best protector against harmful microorganisms.
Coconut oil also boasts a good amount of caprylic acid which targets harmful bacteria.
Studies have shown that coconut also helps reduce hunger pangs. Why? The MCTs are the answer. In one study, varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average.
Researchers have found that saturated fats such as coconut oil act as antioxidants and protect your bones from damaging free radicals. MCTs, the type of saturated fats found in coconuts, are used in formulas given to premature and sick babies. Old age is just as crucial a period for your bones as childhood, as conditions like osteoporosis can seriously affect bone density. Coconut oil, rich in MCTs, can improve bone-nutrient absorption, neutralise free radicals and maintain hormone balance.
MCTs, which are harmless saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL cholesterol to a benign subtype. This in turn improves blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status, meaning reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.
Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar levels and protects against insulin resistance.It can even help prevent Type II diabetes.
Using coconut oil like a mouthwash in a process called oil pulling can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health and reduce bad breath. The Ayurvedic technique from India involves swishing coconut oil around your mouth for 15- 20 mins.
Did you know that, when used as a sunscreen, coconut oil blocks 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays? Also a great moisturiser, coconut oil not only improves the moisture and lipid content of the skin but can also protect the hair against damage.
Time to get nut-cracking, I say, wouldn’t you agree?