Coconut oil has become quite trendy the last few years. Experts tout the benefits of both its internal and external uses.
It is rich in medium-chain triglycerides and lauric acid which are associated with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and improved cardiovascular effects.
Many consumers have made the switch to cooking and baking with coconut oil just as easily as they are applying it topically for dry skin and anti-aging improvements.
Here are three uses for coconut oil that could improve your health:
1) Adding more coconut oil to the diet could decrease waist circumference.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a man should not have a waist circumference greater than 40 inches and a non-pregnant woman should not exceed 35 inches measured from just above the hip bones.
The greater the waist circumference, the more abdominal fat tissue a person has, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease among other conditions.
A study done in 2015 found that 2.6 tsp of virgin coconut oil taken daily, in addition to a diet specifically designed for people with dyslipidemia, saw a greater reduction in waist circumference, compared to those who did the diet alone.
Another study in 2009 looked at women who consumed 6 teaspoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks noted smaller waist circumference measurements at the end of that time.
2) Adding more coconut oil to the diet could increase HDL cholesterol.
The same 2015 study referenced above also saw an improvement in the good HDL cholesterol in those who did the specific diet plus coconut oil, compared to those who did the diet alone.
The 2009 study noted that coconut oil does not appear to cause dyslipidemia, which is a relief for those who are concerned about fats in their diet.
3) Coconut oil is truly good for the skin.
Coconut oil was already known to be moisturizing. Recently, research has also demonstrated that it can help common conditions such as atopic dermatitis (commonly seen in kids) when applied topically where skin can become dry, cracked, inflamed and painful.
Research shows that it can reduce the healing time for superficial wounds, as well.
If you plan to use virgin coconut oil topically, consider separating the oil used for cooking from the oil used for skin conditions for hygiene purposes.
While coconut oil may sound perfect, it does come with some possible side effects. For instance it may cause abdominal upset and diarrhea in those who have a difficult time processing oils, especially those without a gallbladder.
If you have questions, talk with your health care provider or a qualified nutritional expert.
1) Assuncao, M, Ferreira, H, dos Santos, A, Cabral, C, Florencio, T. (2009). Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity.
2) Cardoso, D, Moreira, A, de Oliveira, G, Luiz, R, and Rosa, G. (2015). A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patient.
3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Assessing Your Weight.
4) Evangelista, M, Abad-Casintahan, F, Lopez-Villafuerte, L. (2014). The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial.
5) Nevin, K, Rajamohan, T. (2010). Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats.
Reviewed January 22, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith