(PLUS: How to do a coconut oil cleanse.)
Over the last two decades, scientists, nutritionists, and even health-minded chefs have lauded coconut oil for its hundreds of holistic health benefits.
Coconut oil isn't just a potential treatment for serious disease; it can also help balance your blood chemistry, boost your immune function, improve your energy levels, protect you from a wide assortment of degenerative conditions, and more.
Here are nine more science-backed reasons to add coconut oil to your daily diet:
1. Increases metabolism.
The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil increase your metabolism. Medium-chain fatty acids go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are used as a quick energy source. This makes coconut oil a good choice for athletes.
One study found that men who consumed between 1 and 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil per day increased their 24 hour energy expenditure by 5%. That translates into more fat-burning over time, also corresponding with weight loss.
2. It's a natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
The lauric acid in coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Research has shown that lauric acid kills off Staphylococcus Aureus, a nasty bacteria. Ingesting coconut oil can help balance your intestinal flora, and it can potentially help prevent infections both topically and internally.
3. Curbs hunger.
The fatty acids in coconut oil can reduce your appetite, which may have an influence on your weight in the long term. A study on 12 adult males that were fed both medium-chain and long-chain fatty acids at breakfast found that ingesting medium-chain fatty acids decreased food intake at lunch. This is an important finding because foods that keep you satiated are effective at helping you lose weight.
4. Improves cholesterol levels.
In one study comparing coconut oil to soybean oil, coconut oil was shown to reduce both Total and LDL cholesterol levels while increasing HDL levels (the good kind), thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. Populations that traditionally consume large quantities of coconut oil as part of their diet have a very low incidence of heart disease and have normal blood cholesterol levels.
5. Good for the skin.
Use coconut oil to improve the moisture content in your skin. Research has found that topical use of coconut oil replenished lipid levels and hydration in subjects with abnormally dry skin. Coconut oil also keeps the skin's connective tissue strong, preventing sagging and wrinkles.
6. Boosts brain health.
Use coconut oil to improve brain health and mental clarity. A 2004 study revealed that patients with mild Alzheimer's disease had greater memory recall after drinking medium-chain triglycerides compared with placebo drinks.
Medium-chain fatty acids, as found in coconut oil, go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, and are turned into ketone bodies. These ketone bodies provide an alternative energy source for malfunctioning brain cells, thus reducing the symptoms of mild Alzheimer's disease.
This finding may also translate to other diseases of the brain, including Parkinsons's disease and multiple sclerosis.
7. Helps with weight loss.
If you've got extra weight around your mid-section, coconut oil is an effective addition to your diet for reducing abdominal fat. A 2009 study of 40 women with abdominal obesity found that those who received coconut oil supplements as opposed to soybean oil supplements had a significant reduction in waist size.
We already know that coconut oil boosts your metabolism and helps you feel full longer, and decreasing waist size is just one more bonus for those wanting to lose weight.
8. Reduces insulin sensitivity.
For those with Type 2 diabetes, the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil may improve the body's ability to process sugar into useable energy with few side effects. Those with Type 2 diabetes can't process insulin properly, and the body's cells cannot absorb glucose without insulin.
Research has found that insulin sensitivity may decrease in those with Type 2 diabetes by incorporating medium-chain triglycerides into their diets.
9. Inhibits inflammation associated with arthritis.
Exciting new research links coconut oil to a reduction of arthritis through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Unique coconut oil antioxidants reduced inflammation associated with arthritis more effectively than current pharmaceutical drugs.
How do you enjoy the benefits of coconut oil?
If you're in relatively good health with no major health issues, aim to consume between 1-3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily. Coconut oil expert, Bruce Fife, recommends using any coconut oil that tastes good to you.
It doesn't matter if it's organic, raw, and filtered; if you don't like the taste of it, you'll never eat it. So, try a couple of brands and find one that suits your palate.
Regardless the hefty price tags on some specialty coconut oils, the basic ingredients in all coconut oils are the same, and all coconut oil delivers largely the same benefits.
One thing to pay attention to while shopping: the expiration date. Oil can go rancid when subjected to high heat for long periods of time. Though coconut oil is surprisingly shelf stable and heat-hardy, you'll still want to buy fresh-bottled oil, and keep it in a cool place to ensure optimal quality.
If you are currently grappling with health issues, consider increasing your daily coconut oil intake to 3-6 tablespoons daily. The health benefits of coconut oil are enhanced when combined with a good diet.
Coconuts are plants and 100% raw coconut oil is available at most grocery stores, so you can add coconut oil to a vegan or raw foods diet. Coconut oil works especially well with low-carb, Paleo, and ketogenic diets, but any diet will benefit from the many positive effects of this amazing oil.
YuriElkaimis a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and author of the NYTimes Best-selling book, "The All-Day Energy Diet." In his upcoming book, "The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet," (Rodale, 2015) he walks readers through a 5-day food cycling program guaranteed to double your weight loss. Look for it in bookstores December 2015.
This article was originally published at yurielkaim. Reprinted with permission from the author.