6 Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

As if you haven’t already heard from your doctor, naturopath, coworker, and neighbor, coconut oil is pretty amazing stuff. In fact, the so-called superfood has proven worthy of the title “super duper” due to its plethora of health benefits.

This fat-friendly oil is reputed for everything from lowering cholesterol to aiding fat loss, and from improving brain function to improving skin and hair. Let’s run down six amazing and scientifically-proven ways coconut oil aids health and wellness:

1. Boosts good HDL cholesterol levels
Coconut oil has a double whammy effect on cholesterol, meaning while this oil delivers good amounts of saturated fats that boost HDL (or good) cholesterol—it simultaneously helps make LDL (or bad) cholesterol heart-healthier. For instance, a 2009 study published by the National Institutes of Health found that diets containing coconut oil significantly increased levels of the HDL cholesterol (and remember, that’s the good stuff).

2. Reduces seizures in epileptics
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard about the Keto (aka: ketogenic diet). This eating regimen is rich in a whole lotta fat (of which coconut oil is particularly abundant) while featuring miniscule carbohydrates. But what you probably didn’t know is that the keto diet was initially used for treating epilepsy in child patients who were resistant to drug therapies. This idea behind the keto diet is too boost levels of ketones (or the fatty acids that turn into ketones) in the blood, which induces ketosis, a condition that breaks down fat stores into energy.

3. Improves brain function
According to research from the New York Academy of Sciences, ketones from fatty foods like coconut oil may be the key to halting deteriorating brain glucose uptake in Alzheimer’s patients. While studies are still preliminary, scientists have discovered that medium-chain triglycerides are able to boost blood levels of ketones, and thus boost brain cell energy, which in turn decreases Alzheimer’s symptoms. The medical community has long speculated that Alzheimer’s disease is the result of the brain’s lowered ability to utilize glucose for energy. This means, ketone-friendly foods (i.e., coconut oil) may offer an alternative energy source for brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients.

4. Moisturizes skin and hair
There’s a good reason why may modern day shampoos and skin creams feature coconut oil among the ingredients. This oil has been shown to improve the health and hydration levels of hair and skin by infusing much needed moisture deep into the skin barrier and hair shaft. In fact, a 2011 body of research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine claims coconut oil has protective powers when it comes to natural sunblock. Applying coconut oil topically is shown to intercept roughly 20% of harmful ultraviolet rays.

5. Coconut oil burns calories
Almost every other person is hoping to blast a few extra pounds for beach season. The good news is that your fat blaster may be right in your kitchen cupboard. Coconut oil is naturally abundant in MCTs (otherwise known as medium-chain triglycerides), which increase the rate at which the body is able to burn calories. Therefore, coconut oil increases metabolism by approximately 120 calories, daily (or 5%).

6. Kills dangerous bacteria
You’ve likely heard of folks using coconut oil for “oil pulling”, or mouthwash, which aims to eradicate nasty germs and bacteria from the mouth. The natural bacteria-fighting prowess of coconut oil is all thanks to a substance known as lauric acid, which in turn forms the bacteria-blaster, monolaurin. Oil pulling has been utilized for centuries as a natural way to blast bad breath, and protect teeth and gums from various fungi, viruses, and pathogens that can lead to infections and gum disease.