How Coconut Oil Promotes a Healthy Life
A LOT of claims have been made about coconut oil, but how many of them are true? We are here to set the record straight.
Coconut Oil and Cardiovascular Health
Studies have shown that coconut oil raises your good HDL cholesterol. Based off these results, people claim that coconut oil is therefore great for cardiovascular health. Yes and no. Coconut oil consumption not only raised HDL cholesterol levels, but LDL and total cholesterol as well. (1) Maintaining high levels of HDL cholesterol is important, but it is the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol that is most important for understanding heart disease risk. (2) Compared with plant source of oil like olive oil, coconut does not appear to be as effective in limiting heart disease.
That being said, coconut oil makes a great alternative to butter in baking and cooking. When comparing the effects of coconut oil and butter on lipid profiles, coconut oil improves where butter detracts. Therefore, coconut oil is a better choice than animal sources, like butter. (3)
Coconut Oil for Alzheimer's
Coconut oil’s main benefit is its high content of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are a unique set of fats that are quickly converted by the liver into ketone bodies that are then utilized by the brain for energy. (4) A marker of Alzheimer’s is impaired glucose metabolism as your neurons fail to utilize glucose as an energy source and starve. Studies have shown that ketone metabolism is not impaired in Alzheimer’s patients and can serve as an alternative source of energy when MCTs are available. (5)
Prolonged human studies on the utilization of MCTs in the management of Alzheimer’s have shown that sustained consumption of MCTs stabilizes symptoms and inhibits progression of the disease. (6) Not only did progression slow, but working memory improved after 12 weeks of intervention with MCTs.
Topical Use of Coconut Oil
Another popular use of coconut oil is in skin and hair health management. Topical application of coconut oil has been shown to provide the following benefits: skin barrier repair, anti-bacterial effect, anti-Inflammatory effect, antioxidant effect, wound healing, and skin aging. (7)
Coconut oil has also been shown to be a great tool for protecting hair structure and function. Coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft and more effectively protect against protein loss compared to other topical oils. (8)