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The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and How to Use it in Your Diet

Updated on March 10, 2012

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap. It's long been maligned and lumped together with all saturated fats as a key contributor to heart disease. But new information indicates that this may not be true. Coconut oil has actually been called the healthiest oil on earth and for good reason. It's one of the only sources of medium chain fatty acids, which impart unique health benefits. The many health benefits of coconut oil include cardiovascular and heart health, weight loss, thyroid function support, immune system health, and skin health. Using coconut oil daily may help you feel better and look better. Read on to learn how to incorporate coconut oil into your diet and how it can specifically benefit you.

CCA-SA from Wikimedia Commons
CCA-SA from Wikimedia Commons | Source

Coconut Oil and Medium Chain Fatty Acids

Oils can be classified in two ways. One is by level of saturation giving us saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Coconut oil is a saturated fat just like the fat found in butter and steak. However, unlike those fats, which are long chain fatty acids, coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid. This is the second way to classify fats, by the length of their carbon chains. And medium chain fatty acids have distinct advantages in the body that explain the source of coconut oil's benefits.

Coconut Oil and Cardiovascular Benefits

In cultures that traditionally consumed high levels of coconut oil, like the people of Sri Lanka, heart disease has been among the lowest in the world. Recently, as they've switched to margerine for heart health, the incidence of heart disease has increased. Is this a coincidence or is there something to it? Does coconut oil have a beneficial effect on the heart? Many people think so. There is evidence that consuming coconut oil can increase HDL, the good cholesterol, providing a protective effect to the heart.

Coconut Oil and Weight Loss

Can eating a fat actually help you lose fat? The answer appears to be yes, especially if you're talking about coconut oil. Coconut oil appears to stimulate the metobolism. In addition, because medium chain fatty acids are more easily burned for energy than long chain fatty acids, there's less of a chance that it will get stored as fat in the body. Adding coconut oil to your diet while keeping your calories under control and incorporating exercise, my make it easier for you to lose and maintain your weight.

Update: I decided to incorporate more coconut oil into my diet to see if it would help me shed the ten pounds I'd gained over the last couple of years. I've been stirring one tablespoon into my morning cup of coffee and then twice during the day, one tablespoon into a cup of herbal tea. I'm amazed that the coconut oil actually seems to be making a difference. I've lost three pounds and that's without working out. I also have more energy. I'm going to keep doing this and see how it goes.

Coconut Oil and Thyroid Health

A 2003 edition of Women's World magazine famously stated that eating coconut oil would cure hypothyrodism. Since then, many physicians have criticized this assertion stating that it's not backed by research. However, there are many anecdotal stories from people who have followed a thyroid health program that includes coconut oil and found significant relieve from their symptoms. Coconut oil may not cure hypothyroidism but if it helps and doesn't cause harm in other ways then I believe it's worth a try. Dr. Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle is a big advocate and has seen tremendous results from people who have followed the program outlined in his book.

Coconut Oil and Immune System Health

Medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil have been found to have strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Consuming coconut oil on a regular basis may therefore prevent viral and bacterial infections and even candida infections. This is an important addition to your diet to keep you free from colds and flu all winter long.

Incorporating Coconut Oil in Your Diet

Coconut oil can be included in your diet in many ways. At breakfast, put coconut oil on your toast, waffle, pancake or bagel just as you would with butter. You can also drop some into your coffee and let it melt in. If you drink smoothies for breakfast, put some coconut oil in and mix it up. You'll get a great coconut taste to your smoothie. You can use it at lunch by drizzling the melted oil over a salad or stirring it into a bowl of soup. At dinner you can use it to saute or stir fry your vegetables or drizzle it over steamed vegetables. Check out the great recipes using the link to the right.


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    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      great hub. nice to know how beneficial coconut oil is. voted up.

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 4 years ago

      Very informative hub. I enjoy using it internally and externally as a lotion. And it's got a nice woody smell I enjoy so much too. It's good for your skin, much better than lotion because it's natural. Thanks for the info.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Thanks for the information. Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing. Happy Easter!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Editorsupremo - I'd be very interested in seeing your research. Will you be publishing it as a hub?

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Vnsatakopan - Yes, some of the information is more anectodal than based upon science. But there is compelling scientific evidence for the heart health benefits of coconut oil. Thanks for reading.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi ris8994 - Thanks for reading and for the positive comments. Ever since researching and writing this article, I've been trying to get a few tablespoons of coconut oil into my diet each day. I've found that I have more energy and it's easier to manage my weight.

    • editorsupremo profile image

      editorsupremo 5 years ago from London, England

      Good info. Although coconut oil is a saturated fat it is healthy and aids so many illnesses. I have been doing a research paper on the benefit sof coconut oil and hope to publish my findings very soon.

      Well done. Voted up.

    • vnsatakopan profile image

      Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      That is a very interesting hub. The result is not completely out on coconut oil. One has to wait and see.

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 5 years ago from Wonderland

      Thanks for writing on this topic. My husband has been reading on this topic for sometime now. I am sharing this hub with him. Great information. Voting up.

    • rls8994 profile image

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Great information. I had read once before about the health benefits of coconut oil and then forgot about it. I plan to try and incorporate it in my diet. Very interesting hub. Rated up and shared! :)

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Lindy -

      Thanks for stopping by and reading. There have been studies done to show that coconut oil can lower ldl (bad cholesterol) and increase hdl (good). See the following link for more information. I'm not a doctor so I can't really comment on you're particular case. Perhaps you should speak to your dr about it?

    • profile image

      Lindy 5 years ago

      I too started using coconut oil as my family has a strong history of Alzheimers. I had seen the very encouraging video where a Dr gave coconut oil to her husband who had a very advanced stage of alzheimers. She had demonstrated the clock test that he had taken before using the oil, then over several months she administered the clock test again, every time he could draw the clock face was an amazing thing to see....I started using the oil in my morning protein shake, and I lead a very healthy lifestyle. This week I had my blood work done to check my cholesterol levels, and my LDL was very high. My HDL was also high though and that has always been the case. So now I am wondering if I should have started this regime at all. I want the protection from alzheimers, but don't want to have a cholesterol level that is unhealthy. Any thoughts?

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi YogaKat - Thanks for stopping by and for the vote up! I started using it more regularly and have also lost a couple of lbs. I think it curbs my appetite.

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      A client of mine lost 2 lbs in one month after introducing coconut oil to her diet. I just bought some today. Voted up, useful and interesting

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      We've been using coconut oil to replace butter for a few years now and there's no doubt about its benefits. From cooking eggs in the mornings to using it in baked goods, I've experimented with it in a variety of ways. Not once have we been disappointed. My friend especially likes her popcorn with coconut oil. Glad to see this post!

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      @BlissfulWriter - Thanks for the tip...I hadn't thought of frying eggs with coconut oil.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi shesacraftymom - I've used it to fry chicken tenders using a batter of almond flour and it's great! Thanks for stopping by.

    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi DFiduccia - Thank you for reading and for the positive comments. Great info on using for weight lifing!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      I use coconut to fry eggs, because they can withstand the higher temperature. I've heard a lot about the benefits of both coconut and its oil -- including possibly helping with thyroid function.

    • shesacraftymom profile image

      shesacraftymom 5 years ago

      Love this as a high temp cooking option over canola oil. Makes the food taste great, too! Great hub!

    • DFiduccia profile image

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      I’ve been working out forever and have read many articles on the benefits of coconut oil. It’s also a great product for weight lifters that want to gain bulk without also putting on a spare tire at the waist— great hub.