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What are some health benefits of coconut oil?

A:

Quick Answer

Coconut oil is most often touted as being rich in healthy fats such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and lauric acid. These fats are said to increase energy, improve blood cholesterol levels, promote healthy weight, and fight off pathogens.

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Full Answer

Coconut oil contains a type of healthy saturated fat known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently from the typical long-chain triglycerides most prevalent in the western diet. This type of fat is metabolized more rapidly than typical saturated fats, providing a quick source of energy or a source of ketone bodies. Ketone bodies promote fat-burning and also lower risk of seizues.

Cultures that eat a diet rich in coconut are often much healthier than the typical western individual. South Pacific cultures that consume as much as 60 percent of their total calories from coconuts show low rates of heart disease, stroke, and fewer health problems overall. This is likely due to the normalization of the blood lipid profile promoted by the increase of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reduction in triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Rat studies have shown coconut oil improves blood coagulation and antioxidant status.

Coconut oil also contains the fatty acids lauric acid and capric acid. Lauric acid has been shown to fight off pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Studies even show promise in treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), toxic shock syndrome, osteomyelitis, and mastitis. Lauric acid is comprises nearly 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil.

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