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  • Writer's pictureLaurenWallace

20 Coconut Oil Benefits for Your Brain, Heart, Joints + More!

By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN

January 1, 2022

Original article and page source found here.

To date, there are over 1,500 studies showing coconut oil to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Coconut oil uses and benefits go beyond what most people realize, as coconut oil — made from copra or fresh coconut flesh — is a true superfood.

It’s no wonder the coconut tree is considered the “tree of life” in many tropical locations.

Coconut oil is made by pressing dried coconut meat, called copra, or fresh coconut meat. To make it, you can use a “dry” or “wet” method.

The milk and oil from the coconut are pressed, and then the oil is removed. It has a firm texture at cool or room temperatures because the fats in the oil, which are mostly saturated fats, are made up of smaller molecules.

At temperatures about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, it liquifies. It also has a smoke point of about 350 degrees, making it a great option for sautéed dishes, sauces and baked goods.

This oil is also easily absorbed into the skin because of its smaller fat molecules, making it an excellent skin and scalp moisturizer.

There’s no doubt that many people are confused about whether or not they should consume coconut oil regularly, especially after the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2017 report on saturated fats that recommended reducing saturated fats from your diet. This doesn’t mean that people should avoid consuming any of it.

In fact, the American Heart Association recommends sticking to 30 grams per day for men and 20 grams per day for women, which is about 2 tablespoons or 1.33 tablespoons of coconut oil, respectively.

In addition, we should highlight that the American Heart Association did point out that we don’t have to completely avoid saturated fat, and that’s because we actually need it. It works to enhance our immune function and protect the liver from toxins.

While the AHA is focused on how saturated fats may increase LDL cholesterol levels, we need to remember that coconut oil works to reduce inflammation naturally. Reducing inflammation should be everyone’s biggest health goal, as it is the root cause of heart disease and many other conditions.

So despite the questions about whether or not coconut oil is healthy, I’m still a huge advocate of consuming it to reduce inflammation, support cognitive and heart health, and boost energy levels.

Coconut Oil Benefits

According to medical research and the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrient database, the health benefits of coconut oil include the following:

1. Helps Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

The digestion of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) by the liver creates ketones that are readily accessible by the brain for energy. Ketones supply energy to the brain without the need for insulin to process glucose into energy.

Research has shown that the brain actually creates its own insulin to process glucose and power brain cells. Studies also suggest that as the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to create its own insulin, the ketones from coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function.

A 2020 review highlights the role of medium chain triglycerides in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease because of their neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

2. Aids in Prevention of Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. Saturated fats not only increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL cholesterol) in your body, but also help convert the LDL “bad” cholesterol into good cholesterols.

A randomized crossover trial published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that daily consumption of two tablespoons of virgin coconut oil in young, healthy adults significantly increased HDL cholesterol. Plus, no major safety issues of taking virgin coconut oil daily for eight weeks were reported.

Another more recent study, published in 2020, had the same results and concluded that coconut oil consumption results in significantly higher HDL cholesterol than nontropical vegetable oils. By increasing the HDL in the body, it helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

3. Treats UTI and Kidney Infection and Protects the Liver

Coconut oil has been known to clear up and improve UTI symptoms and kidney infections. The MCFAs in the oil work as a natural antibiotic by disrupting the lipid coating on bacteria and killing them.

Research also shows that coconut oil directly protects the liver from damage.

Coconut water also helps hydrate and support the healing process. Doctors have even injected coconut water to clear up kidney stones.

Coconut is a powerful superfood, which is evident given all of these tremendous coconut oil health benefits.

4. Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis

In an animal study in India, the high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil proved to reduce inflammation and improve arthritis symptoms more effectively than leading medications.

In another recent study, coconut oil that was harvested with only medium heat was found to suppress inflammatory cells. It worked as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.

5. Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Coconut oil has two qualities that help it fight cancer, including the ketones produced in the oil. Tumor cells are not able to access the energy in ketones and are glucose-dependent.

It’s believed that a ketogenic diet could be a possible component of helping cancer patients recover.

The second quality is the medium-chained fatty acid content in coconut oil. As the MCFAs digest the lipid walls of bacteria, they also can kill the helicobacter pylori bacteria that is known to increase the risk of stomach cancer.

Plus, research shows that lauric acid found in coconut oil may have anticancer actions by triggering anti-proliferation and pro-apoptotic effects.

6. Immune System Boost (Antibacterial, Antifungal and Antiviral)

Coconut oil contains lauric acid (monolaurin), which has been shown to reduce candida, fight bacteria and create a hostile environment for viruses. Many diseases today are caused by the overgrowth of bad bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites in the body.

A 2020 review indicates that it has antimicrobial activity and helps activate the anti-inflammatory nature of the immune response in the human body.

You can replace grains and sugar in your diet with coconut oil as your natural fuel source when you’re sick. Sugar feeds the growth of bad bacteria.

Instead, take one tablespoon of coconut oil three times daily when sick, and consume plenty of vegetables and bone broth as well.

7. Supports Memory and Brain Function

In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Neurobiology of Aging, researchers found that the MCFAs in coconut oil improved the memory problems in older subjects.

Across all the patients there was a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking this fatty acid. The MCFAs are absorbed easily in the body and can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin. Thus, they are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.

8. Improves Energy and Endurance

Coconut oil is easy to digest. It also produces a longer sustained energy and increases your metabolism.

Studies indicate that when taking a quality unrefined coconut oil, you can get the most coconut oil benefits as its MCFAs are sent directly to the liver to be converted into energy.

Today, many triathletes use coconut oil as their source of fuel during training and races for long-distance events.

You can make a homemade energy fuel by mixing coconut oil, raw honey and chia seeds together. Simply put together one tablespoon of each, and consume 30 minutes prior to exercise.

9. Aids Digestion and Reduces Stomach Ulcers and Ulcerative Colitis

Coconut also improves digestion as it helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium and magnesium. If coconut oil is taken at the same time as omega-3 fatty acids, it can make them twice as effective, as they are readily available to be digested and used by the body.

Research suggests that coconut oil can help improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida. Candida imbalance, in particular, can decrease stomach acid, which causes inflammation and poor digestion.

All this together means coconut oil benefits digestive health and helps treat or prevent stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis.

10. May Help Reduce Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease and Pancreatitis

An animal study published in the Journal of Animal Sciences shows that the MCFAs of coconut oil do not need the pancreatic enzymes to be broken down, so taking coconut oil eases the strain on the pancreas.

Additionally, this superfood is so easy to digest that it has been known to improve the symptoms of gallbladder disease as well. Replace other long-chain fats with coconut oil to improve gallbladder and total body health.

11. Can Improve Skin Issues (Burns, Eczema, Dandruff, Dermatitis and Psoriasis)

Coconut oil is wonderful as a face cleanser, moisturizer and sun screen, but it can also treat many skin disorders. The fatty acids (caprylic and lauric) in coconut oil reduce inflammation internally and externally and moisturize, making them a great solution for all types of skin conditions.

It protects the skin and has many antioxidants that make it ideal for healing the skin. In addition, the antimicrobial properties balance out the candida or fungal sources that can cause many skin conditions.

There’s so much unrefined coconut oil can do for skin.

12. Helps Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Oil pulling with coconut oil has been used for centuries as a way to cleanse the mouth of bacteria and help heal periodontal disease. Plus, research shows that in addition to offering several oral perks, oil p