Coconut oil, once demonized for its saturated fat content, has finally begun to make a resurgence in the American diet. With nearly 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil being saturated, there are still many that would shy away from this now coined ‘superfood’. But, newer research is showing the endless health benefits to be had from consuming coconut oil on a regular basis and that it will not cause heart disease as once thought.
Allow me to re-introduce you to coconut oil!
Coconut Oil Can Actually Reduce Cholesterol and Lower Heart Disease Risk
This is a far cry from the reputation coconut oil had been given in the past, but countless studies and research are showing this to be true. Given that the fatty acids in coconut oil are comprised differently than those in other fat sources, the effects it has on our body are different as well.
Yes, coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats, but fear not! Studies in both humans and lab rats have been consistently showing that regular consumption of coconut oil can improve LDL, HDL and total cholesterol, which can in turn reduce your risk of heart disease.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Coconut oil does not contain the same type of saturated fat that you will find in things like cheese or red meat. It contains what are called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs for short). This just means that the fatty acid chains are of a medium length, as opposed to the longer chained triglycerides contained in the afore mentioned foods.
MCTs are metabolized differently in the body, going straight to the liver from the digestive tract. They are used as a fast source of energy or turned into ketone bodies that are shown to actually have therapeutic effects on brain disorders.
Did You Just Say Ketones?
If you haven’t heard of ketones before, that’s okay! You may have heard of the ketogenic diet, which is just a very low carb, high fat diet. This diet is essentially increasing the amount of ketone bodies in the bloodstream. As I just mentioned, ketone bodies have been shown to have therapeutic effects on brain disorders. This includes Alzheimer’s as well as epilepsy.
For those suffering with Alzheimer’s, the increase in ketone bodies can provide the brain with an alternative source of energy to make up for the malfunctioning cells, creating a reduction in symptoms. Also, studies have shown that an increase in the amount of ketone bodies in the bloodstream can help reduce the amount of seizures in those with epilepsy.
Consuming coconut oil has shown to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, the most dangerous place on our body to store fat.
Eat Fat to Burn Fat?
Perhaps the most loved attribute of coconut oil for many who are familiar with it is this one. Coconut oil is a fat that, when consumed, helps you to lose fat. Go ahead, read that again. You read it correctly. Eat fat and you’ll lose fat! Old school dieting was low-fat, low-calorie everything. Toss that mindset out the window because a calorie is NOT just a calorie. The source of that calorie matters people!
We already talked about how the MCTs of coconut oil offered our bodies a source for energy expenditure that allows us to burn more calories, but there are a few other reasons consuming coconut oil can help you to lose fat.
Ketone bodies (which we’re all familiar with now) can have an appetite reducing effect, resulting in fewer calories consumed throughout the day. Also, there are studies showing that coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat specifically, which is not only our least favorite place to store fat, it’s also the most dangerous place to store fat.
Coconut Consumption Is Nothing New
To us, the coconut is seen as somewhat of an exotic fruit, but in other parts of the world, it is a staple in their diets and has been for centuries. The greatest consumers of saturated fats in the world are found in the South Pacific, with over 60% of their diet revolving around the coconut. These are also some of the healthiest people in the world, with no evidence of heart disease.
So… eat this healthy fat and you’ll have more energy, feel less hungry and lose belly fat? I think it’s time to give coconut oil a second chance!