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Coconut Oil is amongst one of the healthiest oils to use in cooking or as a moisturiser for the hair or body. It fully engages your thyroid, strengthens your metabolism and helps you to lose weight. In our Thai Cookery Classes here at The Cooking Academy, people often ask, “Isn’t Coconut Oil very fattening?”. As a result, I hope this blog post will prove useful.

Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is unique and different from almost all other fats and possesses many healthy properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.

The fact that coconut oil contains fewer calories than other oil is not the main reason it has gained a reputation as a low-calorie fat. Its advantage in weight management is due primarily to its effect on the metabolism. Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil are smaller than other fats and, therefore, digested very quickly, so quickly in fact, that the body uses them as an immediate source of fuel rather than packing them away in storage inside our fat cells. MCT are used to produce energy much like carbohydrates and, therefore, they do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats. For this reason, they do not supply fat to fat cells or contribute to weight gain.

Boosted Metabolism

Because MCTs are used by the body as a source of fuel to produce energy, they have a stimulatory affect on metabolism. Studies have shown that MCT boost metabolism, thus increasing the body’s use of calories. As a result, calories obtained from all the foods we eat are burned up at a higher rate, so that fewer remain to be packed away as body fat. This boost in metabolism remains elevated for as long as 24 hours after eating a meal containing MCTs, so you enjoy an increased level of energy and continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate for many hours after the meal.

This increase in metabolism also leads to a rise in body temperature. People with low thyroid function report that after using coconut oil, their body temperature rises to normal levels and remains elevated for many hours. Temperatures in such people can rise 1 or 2 degrees or more depending on the amount of oil they consume. Those people who are overweight because of low thyroid function can utilise the metabolic stimulating action of coconut oil to help them shed excess pounds.

Glycemic Index Effect

Another interesting feature about coconut oil is that it helps to lower food and calorie consumption. Coconut oil is more satisfying to the body than other fats. When added to meals people tend to eat less food and feel fuller longer so they don’t eat as much at the next meal.

Coconut use historically

Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some extent for their food and their economy. In such cultures coconut has a long and respected history.

Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called “The Tree of Life.” Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut’s amazing healing powers.

Coconut In Traditional Medicine

In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including: abscesses, asthma, bronchitis, bruises, burns, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, toothache, tuberculosis, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.

Coconut In Modern Medicine

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarised below:

  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhoea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilisation of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with mal-absorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Helps control dandruff, thus used as a hair oil
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effect.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.

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