Coconut oil for your heart, brain, belly and more

Despite what the American Heart Association will tell you, coconut oil is considered to be a highly nutritious ‘functional food’ with numerous health benefits.

But just in case you have any doubts, you can read here why I believe the AMA, in their recent conclusions about coconut oil, had it all wrong

In fact, coconut oil is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants…

Coconut oil raises LDL-cholesterol, but it also has been show to lower the oxidized (sticky) amount of LDL in addition to raising your (good) HDL-cholesterol…

And a study appearing in the February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology showed that the higher the HDL cholesterol levels in men, the more likely they would live to the age of 85.

Furthermore, coconut oil contains polyphenols and other natural anti-inflammatory nutrients that also help lower the risk of heart disease.

Yet, in addition to improving heart health, coconut oil has many other health benefits that I’d like tell you about.

Coconut oil for brain health

One condition known to improve with coconut oil is Alzheimer’s Dementia.  Currently in America there are 5.5 million people with Alzheimer’s Dementia (10% of persons over age 65), and this is predicted to rise ten-fold by the year 2050.

We know that Alzheimer’s Dementia is accelerated by a diet too low in fats. Coconut oil is high in the kind of fat that an aging brain needs to function well, and even more so in in Alzheimer’s Dementia.

More specifically, coconut oil’s saturated fat is mostly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which your body handles differently than the fats in liquid vegetable oils, dairy and meats. It turns out that coconut oil consumption not only reduces the progression towards Alzheimer’s Disease, but it also lessens the cognitive deficits seen in this condition.

Furthermore, coconut oil is considered to be beneficial in the treatment of obesity, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and high blood pressure — all of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s Dementia.  Incidentally, these are also some of the risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, coconut oil supplementation is considered a therapeutic option for preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s Dementia. It is best taken with food so that it won’t upset your stomach. I love to put it in my oatmeal, on occasional toast, on my hot veggies, but not in my smoothies (it turns solid at this cold temperature).

You can start with one tablespoon of coconut oil in food every morning, and then increase over the weeks up to the four tablespoons per day, which is considered a therapeutic dose for brain health. Four tablespoons twice daily would be recommended for treatment of Alzheimer’s Dementia or other neurological diseases.

Boost metabolism, soothe hunger, shed weight, shrink belly

Losing weight is on the mind (or should be) of nearly a third of American adults.

It turns out that coconut oil is a fat that helps increase your metabolism, not slow it down. As mentioned earlier, coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are easily converted into energy compared to other fats. Therefore, it is less likely to become a stored fat on your body simply because it more easily converts into energy.

Consumption of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil has been shown to cause weight loss and hunger reduction compared to long chain fatty acids such as olive oil. Some studies specifically on coconut oil show that it reduces hunger, causes weight loss, or reduces abdominal obesity.

In a randomized double-blind, clinical trial of forty women, aged 20-40 years, participants consumed two tablespoons of either soy bean or coconut oil for 12-weeks. While both groups were found to lose weight, only those who consumed coconut oil had significant reductions in waist circumference (i.e. belly fat). Also, only the soy bean oil group had unfavorable lipid measurements of decreased (good) HDL-cholesterol and increased total and LDL-cholesterol.

Improve your hair and skin

More than just imagining the healthy feel of it on your skin and hair, coconut oil actually has proven health effects here too. One study found that supplementing with coconut oil prevented combing damage. That’s because, “Coconut oil…has a high affinity for hair proteins and… is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft,” while mineral oil does not do this.

Furthermore, coconut oil supplementation has been shown to improve the skin condition called xerosis (rough, itchy, dry skin) better than mineral oil. There’s no wonder that it also effectively treats atopic dermatitis (eczema) and dandruff.

Knowing this, you won’t be surprised to know that coconut oil stimulates collagen production, enhances collagen cross-linking (strengthens and tightens skin), and causes a high turnover of collagen. An animal study revealed that wounds healed much faster when coconut oil was applied topically. When researchers examined the tissue under a microscope they found increased fibroblast proliferation (new cell growth) and neovascularization (new blood vessel formation) in coconut oil-treated wounds compared to controls.

Coconut oil to reduce diabetes?

Well, the verdict is not out yet for humans, but it is known that coconut oil has a blood sugar-lowing action and enhances insulin secretion in animal studies.

There are more benefits of coconut oil I have not included here. As for me and my kitchen, we will consume generous amounts of coconut oil daily!

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Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.