Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
In case you haven’t noticed or started using it already, coconut oil has become a major “superfood” in the last decade. The existence of coconuts can be dated back to thousands of years.
Coconut as a fruit, its flesh, coconut water, its milk, and coconut oil have been known to have a great influence, especially in the lives of those belonging to the tropical countries.
And it’s popularity all around the globe has soared in recent times; people not only add it to salads and smoothies but cook with it and splash it on their skin and hair for a better diet and lifestyle.
While there is a perception of coconut oil that works wonders for pretty much everything, scientists are still on the fence about many of these claims.
Pros of Coconut Oil
If anything coconut oil is seen, in the scientific community, as an unhealthy fat because of its high percentage of saturated fat (86%). On the other hand, its unique combination of fatty acids are said to have positive effects on your health.
1. Increase in Good Cholesterol
Among the two types of cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), coconut oil tends to raise HDL, often known as good cholesterol.
HDL appears to help reduce levels of LDL, and high levels of HDL may help boost cardiovascular health. Some researchers have proclaimed that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a component in coconut oil, may help boost levels of good cholesterol.
2. Improve in Brain Health
Ketones are one of the few things that can be used to power brain cells when glucose isn’t available or cannot be absorbed efficiently (as is the case in people with Alzheimer’s Disease).
The human body doesn’t typically produce many ketones on its own, however, consuming coconut oil can create a temporary state of hyperketonemia where the number of ketone bodies in the bloodstream is elevated. Research has also indicated that virgin coconut oil possesses antioxidant and anti-stress properties.
3. Improve in the Body’s Use of Insulin
Coconut oil is high in medium-chain fats. This means coconut oil, being a solid fat is harder to convert to stored fat. This makes it easier for your body to burn it off.
Researchers also found that medium-chain fatty acids could lower fat buildup and sustain insulin action in fat tissue and muscle. Since coconut oil balances blood sugar by raining insulin amount, it could be beneficial to diabetes patients.
4. Boost in Thyroid Function Resulting in Increased Energy
The newest superstar of oils, organic virgin coconut oil, is a highly saturated fat, and from a plant-based source.
It is rich in lauric acid, which stimulates thyroid function while increasing metabolism to trigger natural weight loss. So, coconut oil could help in weight loss along with a boost in energy.
5. Antioxidant and Natural Antibiotic
The human body converts lauric acid found in coconut oil into monolaurin and this gives it its antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Coconut oil also has another fatty acid called capric acid which has antimicrobial characteristics. Since the side effect burden of coconut oil is low, it could be a reasonable option for patients with dermal infections.
6. Improve in Overall Health of Skin and Hair
Lauric acid in coconut oil has moisturizing and hormone-balancing properties. In addition to its anti-aging and skin healing abilities, it is also known to stimulate collagen production, and its vitamin E content gives sun protection.
When it comes to hair, using coconut oil helps maintain moisture and prevents protein loss in hair. That means coconut oil could help you tame your frizz, reduce hair loss and get rid of itchy scalp. What’s more, all that fatty acids are also great for nourishing chapped lips, dry cuticles, and brittle nails.
7. Improve in Dental Health
Studies have found coconut oil pulling to protect against cavities, improve gingivitis, and influence the oral bacterial balance.
Oil pulling is a traditional oral treatment that involves swishing oil around the oral cavity, in a similar way to the modern mouthwash. Lauric acid in coconut oil attacks harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Cons of Coconut Oil
1. Rise in bad cholesterol level
Whether virgin or refined, coconut oil is high in saturated fat and just like other saturated fats, coconut oil also raises LDL (the bad cholesterol).
While coconut oil also raises the good cholesterol, it doesn’t raise it as much as unsaturated fats do. So, the risk of weight gain and various complications could increase.
2. May Cause Allergies
If one is sensitive to coconuts, coconut oil may trigger allergic reactions. It could cause nausea, rashes, eczema, hives, vomiting, and even difficulty breathing. Severe symptoms include rapid heart rate, facial swelling, and lightheadedness.
3. Risk of Heart Diseases
For better heart health, it is suggested to eat fewer saturated fats and more unsaturated fats. But coconut oil is almost 90% saturated fat, which could mean that it is harmful for the heart. The risk of heart disease and stroke increases massively due to saturated fats.
4. Liver Damage Risk
The medium-chain fatty acids(MCFAs) in coconut oil are converted into energy in the liver. According to some experts, the speed at which these MCFAs are brought to the liver can give rise to a problem.
The liver could be put under stress which could eventually lead to its harm. Thus, it is better to avoid coconut oil if you have any liver disease or diabetes.
Coconut oil is known to fight internal bacterial infection, but the process of destroying the bacteria can lead to certain side effects. Diarrhea is one of the short term side effects of the same. So, it is better to consume coconut oil in small amounts to avoid such side effects.
While coconut oil is a highly controversial oil among the scientific community, it’s popularity is surging in recent times. Despite the fact that it is not a magic wand that some claim it to be, you don’t have to completely avoid it.
There is not enough evidence to support the downsides of coconut oil, but intaking it sparingly would be the clever option. When it comes to applying it to your hair, there is no reason to stop it!