What Are the Health Benefits and Uses of Coconut Oil?

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According to WebMD, coconut oil has been used to treat diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, thyroid conditions and chronic fatigue. Additionally, coconut oil is used topically to moisturize the skin and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. However, WebMD asserts that not all of these potential treatments have proven to be effective.

According to WebMD, pure virgin coconut oil contains 92 percent saturated fat, representing the most concentrated amount present in any fat source. Most saturated fats are found in animal products and contain cholesterol, but tropical oils like coconut oil are cholesterol-free. Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short and medium-chain fatty acids known as triglycerides. The most common fatty acids found in coconut oil are lauric and myristic acids, found in 44 percent and 16.8 percent concentrations, respectively. Dariush Mozaffarian, co-director of the cardiovascular epidemiology program at Harvard, asserts that there may also be some beneficial plant chemicals present in coconut oil that have not yet been discovered since the oil is derived from a plant source.

All oil contains the same amount of calories per gram and no vitamins or minerals. WebMD insists that despite hefty health claims, additional research is required to determine the exact extent of health benefits derived from coconut oil.