Coconut Oil, it seems to be everywhere. The shelves are lined with tubs of it, we are cooking with it, some people stir it in their coffee, it is used for body lotions, as toothpaste and shampoos. You name it, there is probably coconut oil being used for it.
But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? How does it contribute to managing weight and which type is best?
Coconut Oil is a Special Kind of Fat
Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.
It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut and is solid at room temperature.
When it comes to coconut oil, its important to remember that not all fats are created equal.
Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.
MCTs are metabolized by the body differently than other fats. They are easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver, and they’re burned for fuel.
Most of the fats we consume take a long time to digest. MCT’s found in coconut oil provide the perfect source of energy because they only have to go through a 3-step process to be turned in to fuel vs. other fats that have to go through a 26-step process.
This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.
Cooking With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a high smoke point and longer shelf life than some other fats and oils. As it is sold at room temperature, it can be used in baking, for frying, and as a replacement for butter or vegetable oil in recipes.
Coconut Oil and Fat Loss
Coconut oil’s MCTs have been shown to have fat loss benefits.
Because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs increase the number of calories you burn. This happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats.
Coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.
Eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”).
Replacing other oils with coconut oil in cooking may increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.
Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils!
Other Health Benefits
Coconut oil has become known as a super food. Its health benefits are abundant. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial. It helps support the integrity of our cells, kills off negative gut bacteria, supports immune health and cognitive function, improves HDL “healthy cholesterol”, reduces inflammation, improves skin issues such as Eczema and psoriasis, and helps to manage type II diabetes.
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Eat?
As with most oils, a little goes a long way. The benefits of increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only used about 2 tablespoons per day.
Much more than that can lead to excess calories and go against your weight loss goals.
What Kind of Coconut Oil is Best?
There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days
that it can make it difficult to know which is best.
Opt for “virgin” coconut oil instead of “refined” coconut oil. Virgin Coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents used in the refining process. This helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.
Tip: Always avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.” Which are highly inflammatory and can contribute to cellular damage.
All in all, Coconut oil is a winner in my book. It has become a staple in my pantry as well as my medicine cabinet. With numerous studies supporting its benefits, it’s hard to dispute that it is indeed a healthy choice. My only word of caution is to be mindful of portion. It is still a source of fat and is dense with calories. Just because it has healthful benefits, doesn’t mean you eat it by the bucket load. Substitute other oils out and coconut oil in.
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