Expert Advice: Weight Loss Isn't The Only One; Coconut Oil Is A Powerhouse Of Health Benefits
Daily consumption of coconut oil lowers stress, prevents liver ailments and manages asthma symptoms.
Coconut oil lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing cholesterol levels
- Coconut oil lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Coconut's sugar content offers instant energy
- 50% of saturated fats in coconut oil comprises lauric acid
It's hard to believe that one of the world's best super-foods was demonised for decades. But that's exactly the fate coconuts and coconut oil suffered, the latter being considered unhealthy for the heart. Global scientific research is now discovering the truth coconut lovers knew all along: coconuts are one of the most nutritious and healthy foods.
Fact versus Fiction
The myths about coconut oil began decades ago after the emergence of refined oils, which were marketed as being healthier. Today, it is clear that refined products lose much of their nutritive value during refining. Unrefined extra-virgin cold-pressed coconut oil holds multiple health benefits. The extraction or manufacturing method is crucial. For example, organic and extra-virgin cold-pressed coconut oil is processed at temperatures not exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring maximum nutritive value retention. Therefore, this oil is best for health.
Coconut oil lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing cholesterol levels. But fears about its safety arose because it comprises around 92% saturated fats - much higher than butter and refined oils. The rationale:since coconut oil had high saturated fats, it was bad for the heart. Current research reveals this isn't true. Indeed, people consuming coconut oil daily do not gain extra weight or body fat. This is partly because the saturated fats in coconut oil impart a feeling of satiety or fullness, making one eat less.
What makes coconut oil so healthy unlike other oils and even better than olive oil?
The composition of the oil. About 50% of saturated fats in coconut oil comprises lauric acid, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties also present in breast milk. It also contains high levels of capric and caprylic acids, offering multiple health benefits due to their antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and other nourishing properties.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, regular consumption of coconut oil lowers total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or bad cholesterolwhile boosting HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or good cholesterol. Such facts clarify why people from the South Pacific islands- who derive more than 60% of calories from coconuts- do not suffer from high incidence of heart disease.
Other Benefits and Uses
To elaborate, coconut oil doesn't raise cholesterol levels as it consists mainly of medium-chain fatty acids. A unique fat molecule, this burns almost immediately by going directly from the digestive tract to the liver, producing energy faster,instead of converting into cholesterol or body fat. Consequently, coconut oil does not increase blood cholesterol levels. The coconut's sugar content offers instant energy, prevents hunger pangs and minimises food craving while controlling blood sugar levels. These factors ensure lower belly fat and reduced waist circumference.
Its additional benefits include higher immunity levels, better digestion and metabolism as well as healthier hair and skin. Daily consumption of coconut oil has other benefits too such as lowering stress, preventing liver ailments and managing asthma symptoms while alleviating kidney, blood pressure, cancer,brain disorders and other diseases.
Nonetheless, remember certain guidelines when consuming coconut oil. If not used to coconut oil, scale up consumption gradually as it may have a laxative effect in some persons. Take half a teaspoon, morning and evening, along with meals. Thereafter, go up to one or one-and-a-half teaspoon, twice daily. In winters, it could be consumed in solid form, which will melt immediately in the mouth. Or the coconut oil container can simply be immersed in warm water for some time, melting the oil. Never microwave to melt since this impact its nutritive and healing benefits.
It could also be used for cooking and frying food - if one can tolerate its strong taste. Since coconut oil remains extremely stable at high temperatures, it won't break down and generate cancer-causing free radicals during cooking like other oils.
Apart from coconut oil, coconut milk is another popular food, made from the white flesh of brown mature coconuts, which is mixed with water to derive coconut milk. Possessing a thick, rich, creamy texture, coconut milk is popular in many cuisines worldwide for preparing gravy food and contains all the health benefits mentioned earlier. Along with its derivatives, including coconut water, the coconut can truly be termed the Earth's most beneficial super-food.
(Aastha Sharma is a senior dietician at Nayati Medicity, Mathura )
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