Coconut oil is basically a tropical oil extracted from the flesh of coconuts. It is a very popular cooking oil and is often used as an alternative to lard and butter. However, various studies suggest that just like other oils or any other saturated fat product, coconut oil should also be consumed in moderation to avoid allergies and health problems.
Today, manufacturers have started using coconut oil in various packaged products. You can find this oil in sweets, fried foods, smoothies, shampoos, coffee, etc.
You can even find virgin coconut oil in the market. The main difference between the two is that virgin coconut oil goes through fewer processing steps, while refined coconut oil is more processed and results in a more neutral flavor and smell. Since the refined version contains no tropical flavors, it is used as the main cooking oil and is a staple in most kitchens.
Coconut Oil Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts mentioned below are for one tablespoon of coconut oil:
Protein – 0 grams.
Calories – 121.
Fat – 13.5 grams (saturated fat -11.2 grams).
Carbohydrates – 0 grams.
Sugar – 0 grams.
Fiber – 0 grams.
Coconut oil contains no fiber or cholesterol and contains very few minerals, vitamins and plant sterols.
Health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil is renowned for its excellent health benefits. It contains several antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, aids in weight loss, and also helps improve skin, hair, and mouth health.
Here are some of the potential health benefits of coconut oil:
1) Contains antimicrobial properties
Coconut oil has a good amount of antifungal and antimicrobial properties, including lauric acid – a fatty acid that makes up 50% of the medium chain triglycerides MCTs (saturated fats) in coconut oil. Various studies have shown that these antimicrobial effects fight bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms.
2) Helps reduce stress and anxiety
The antioxidant properties found in coconut oil can help reduce stress and anxiety resulting from chronic colds, coughs, and excessive exercise. Moreover, it can also be useful in curing certain types of depression.
3) May Improve Skin
The lauric acid found in coconut oil is known for its amazing antimicrobial properties which can also benefit your skin.
Due to coconut oil’s antifungal and healing properties, it can also be applied to the skin after a tattoo. Besides potentially healing injured skin, coconut oil can simply be used as a moisturizer to soothe dry, cracked skin and is a common addition to various cosmetic creams and lotions.
4) Helps protect hair from damage
The lauric acid present in coconut oil has a high amount of protein and penetrates deep inside the hair shaft. This makes coconut oil and other products made from it very useful and effective in preventing hair damage caused by ultraviolet rays and heat tools. You can use it as a pre-shower mask to add shine and moisture to dry, frizzy hair.
5) Helps with weight management
Various studies suggest that consuming coconut oil in moderation is helpful in maintaining and controlling your weight. The MCTs in coconut oil are not absorbed by the fatty tissues of your body and also help control your food cravings. Meanwhile, other studies also suggest that MCTs help reduce hip and waist size.
6) Improves Digestion
Coconut oil prevents the formation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As it contains saturated fats which contain antibacterial properties, it helps in the treatment of fungi and bacteria that cause digestive problems.
Allergies related to coconut oil consumption are very rare, however, they can happen to some people. Symptoms of allergic reactions to this oil include vomiting, wheezing, itching, or hives.
If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming coconut oil, see a doctor immediately to find out about the possibilities of an allergy. Also, before incorporating coconut oil into your diet, be sure to talk to a doctor about it and always do a patch test by applying it topically to your skin.
Coconut oil has many health benefits – both when you use it as a skin or hair care product or when you add it to your daily diet. However, remember to use it in moderation to avoid any type of allergy or risk of heart disease.