Coconut Oil Benefits for Brain and Heart
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Coconut oil uses and benefits go beyond what most people realize, as coconut oil - made from copra or fresh coconut flesh - is a true superfood. It’s no wonder the coconut tree is considered the “tree of life” in many tropical locations. There’s no doubt that many people are confused about whether or not they should consume coconut oil regularly, especially after the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2017 report on saturated fats.
The truth is that while the AHA’s recommendation to reduce saturated fats in your diet is plausible, it doesn’t mean that people can’t consume any of it. In fact, the AHA recommends sticking to 30 grams per day for men and 20 grams per day for women, which is about 2 tablespoons or 1.33 tablespoons of coconut oil, respectively. In fact, we should highlight that the AHA did point out that we don’t have to completely avoid saturated fats, and that’s because we actually need it.
It works to enhance our immune function and protect the liver from toxins. And while the AHA is focused on how saturated fats may increase LDL cholesterol levels, we need to remember that coconut oil works to reduce inflammation naturally. Reducing inflammation should be everyone’s biggest health goal, as it is the root cause of heart disease and many other conditions. So despite the somewhat negative response to coconut oil in the last few years, I’m still a huge advocate of coconut oil for reducing inflammation, supporting cognitive and heart health, and boosting energy levels - just to name a few of the many coconut oil benefits.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
According to medical research and the USDA nutrient database, coconut oil benefits the body in the following ways:
1. Proven Alzheimer’s disease Natural Treatment
The digestion of MCFAs by the liver creates ketones that are readily accessible by the brain for energy. Ketones supply energy to the brain without the need for insulin to process glucose into energy. Recent research has shown that the brain actually creates its own insulin to process glucose and power brain cells. As the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to create its own insulin, the ketones from coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function.
2. Prevents Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Saturated fats not only increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL cholesterol) in your body, but also help convert the LDL “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterols. A randomized crossover trial published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that daily consumption of 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in young, healthy adults, significantly increased HDL cholesterol. Plus, no major safety issues of taking virgin coconut oil daily for eight weeks were reported. By increasing the HDL in the body, it helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease. Coconut oil also benefits the heart by lowering high triglycerides.
3. Treats UTI and Kidney Infection and Protects the Liver
Coconut oil has been known to clear up and improve UTI symptoms and kidney infections. The MCFAs in the oil work as a natural antibiotic by disrupting the lipid coating on bacteria and killing them. Research also shows that coconut oil directly protects the liver from damage. Coconut water also helps hydrate and support the healing process. Doctors have even injected coconut water to clear up kidney stones. Coconut is a powerful superfood, which is evident given all of these tremendous coconut oil health benefits.
4. Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis
In an animal study in India, the high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil (VCO) reduced inflammation and improved arthritis symptoms more effectively than leading medications. In another recent study, coconut oil that was harvested with only medium heat was found to suppress inflammatory cells. It worked as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
5. Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Coconut oil has two qualities that help it fight cancer: one is the ketones produced in the oil. Tumor cells are not able to access the energy in ketones and are glucose-dependent. It’s believed that a ketogenic diet could be a possible component of helping cancer patients recover. And the second quality is the medium-chained fatty acid content in coconut oil. As the MCFAs digest the lipid walls of bacteria, they also can kill the helicobacter pylori bacteria that have been known to increase the risk of stomach cancer. Plus, research shows that lauric acid found in coconut oil may have anticancer actions by triggering anti-proliferation and pro-apoptotic effects.
6. Immune System Boost (Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antiviral)
Coconut oil contains lauric acid (monolaurin), which has shown to reduce candida, fight bacteria and create a hostile environment for viruses. Many diseases today are caused by the overgrowth of bad bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites in the body. You can replace grains and sugar in your diet with coconut oil as your natural fuel source when you’re sick. Sugar feeds the growth of bad bacteria. Instead, take one tablespoon of coconut oil three times daily when sick, and consume plenty of vegetables and bone broth as well.
7. Improves Memory and Brain Function
In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging, researchers found that the MCFAs in coconut oil improved the memory problems in their older subjects. Across all the patients there was a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking this fatty acid. As the MCFAs are absorbed easily in the body and can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin. Thus, they are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.
8. Improves Energy and Endurance
Coconut oil is easy to digest and also produces a longer sustained energy and increases your metabolism. When taking a quality unrefined coconut oil, you can get the most coconut oil benefits as its MCFAs are sent directly to the liver to be converted into energy.
Today, many triathletes use coconut oil as their source of fuel during training and races for long-distance events. You can make a homemade energy fuel by mixing coconut oil, raw honey and chia seeds together. Simply put together one tablespoon of each and consume 30 minutes prior to exercise.