Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Bunch of green coconuts high in a palm tree

Coconut oil is nothing short of amazing. If you don’t have any on your shelf, or the coconut oil you have is like 10 years old, go immediately and buy some fresh coconut oil, organic if you can. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you why I think it’s God’s gift to the Earth.

The first thing I’m going to tell you might shock you a bit considering my opening remark. Coconut oil has the highest-known content of saturated fat of any food on the planet. At least 90 percent of its fatty acids are saturated. I’m going to write another article about the great saturated fat fallacy, but for now, let me just say that eating saturated fats has been shown time and time again in clinical studies not to clog your arteries. There are a number of very healthy saturated fats that your body needs to do things like break down fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins E, K, D and A.

Not only is coconut a wonderful source of saturated fats, it provides a special kind of saturated fat called a medium chain fatty acid that is metabolized directly by the liver providing something called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are released into your bloodstream where they are used by the brain, kidneys, muscles, and intestines. Also, if you read my article about fasting you will know that during low-carb dieting and fasting (livealonger.life/fasting) there is an elevated rate of ketone body creation. Some studies have shown that ketone bodies have a beneficial neuroprotective effect against Alzheimer’s Disease and Epilepsy. Coconut oil can provide a great source of the fatty acid needed while you are fasting or low-carb dieting.

Coconuts and Heart Disease

There is an island in the South Pacific called Tokelau where people have traditionally eaten a very high percentage of their diet as coconuts. Their average fatty acid intake was double that of New Zealanders, where they often migrated. But overall, their cholesterol, blood pressure and incidence of cardio vascular disesase were lower that the New Zealand population. [1] Now with the excitement over “Blue Zones” (bluezones.com) it’s important to look where people have the longest healthspan.

Warning: I am not a health professional and standard thinking in the American Medical community is that coconut oil, with its high amount of saturated fat, is bad for you. I provide this information only for your education so you can make your own decision after consulting a medical professional about your health.

Almost any oil you use for cooking will raise your total cholesterol level. This includes safflower, canola and standard vegetable oil, all considered and marketed as heart healthy. Interestingly, the measure of HDL cholesterol in comparison to LDL cholesterol is a better measure of heart health and of all the oils, coconut oil raises HDL higher in comparison to LDL. Remember that LDL is not bad, it just tends to get oxidized and in that form it aids in blocking arteries.

Lastly, there are many things that affect heart health and not all of them have to do with cholesterol.

Oral Health and Heart Disease

I haven’t really mentioned oral care in my writing so far. Good oral care is important for a number of reasons. The obvious one is that if you want to live longer, going into advanced age with as many of your own healthy teeth as possible is a plus. More importantly, oral diseases stress the heart.

Heart disease and periodontal diseases have been directly linked. The bacteria found in periodontal disease has also been found in the plaque lining your artery walls. This is the plaque that leads to stroke and heart attack. Also it’s believed that this bacteria can also inflame the walls of our arteries, which starts the whole process of plaque formation and eventually a clot. It is also believed that inflammation in the mouth simply supports inflammation in other parts of your body. [2]

Coconut Oil and Oral Health

I will be honest. I was not a big fan of using coconut oil until someone told me about oil pulling and I tried it. The process of swishing certain oils around in your mouth for 20 minutes first thing in the morning has an amazing effect on oral health. Of the different oils used, coconut oil is the one I recommend for this process because it whitens your teeth, uses its antibacterial qualities to kill unwanted mouth bacteria, has been known to aid in remineralizing teeth, and lastly, doesn’t taste bad.

Oil pulling, and I’m not sure why it’s called that, is simple. Take two-tablespoons of raw virgin coconut oil and put them in your mouth and swish gently. If your oil is cold I prefer to warm it slightly until it liquefies before putting it in my mouth. There is just something about the melting process I don’t find all that nice in my mouth. You don’t have to swish hard, just regularly for twenty minutes. It takes some getting used to.

At the end of the twenty minutes of swishing spit out the coconut oil into the trash. DO NOT spit it into a toilet or drain as it will congeal and clog your drain! DO NOT SWALLOW IT. The last thing about swallowing has nothing to do with clogging your throat or that eating coconut oil is anyway unhealthy. It has to do with the fact that oil pulling also detoxifies your body and those released toxins end up in the oil. Get rid of these toxins in a trash can. Then rinse your mouth with lightly salted water, or I really like to use a good mineral mouthwash. This rinses the toxins from your mouth. Mineral mouthwash can also assist the mouth in remineralizing your teeth. You can Google this on your own but there are several websites that talk about the miracle of coconut oil fixing cavities. I have not experience this yet, so I can’t speak to it personally.

You will notice a couple of things right away. Because the coconut oil kills germs you will not have bad breath. Second, even after the first time I noticed that my teeth were whiter, and got increasingly whiter every time I swished coconut oil.

Coconut Oil for Skin and Hair

For many years products have used the healing and protective effects of coconut oil skin and hair. Coconut oil has a very natural moisturizing effect and protects your hair and skin from the sun. Adding coconut oil to your hair will cause it to thicken and strengthen. The oil on your scalp also removes unwanted sebum from hair follicles.

Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin. The vitamins and nutrients in the oil have a direct beneficial effect on your skin, your largest organ. It also moisturizes and gives your skin a healthful glow.

Summing It All Up

Whether you cook with coconut oil, consume it, swish it in your mouth or apply it to your skin you should always use an unrefined, organic virgin coconut oil. You will generally find this at a local health food store and almost never in your grocery store. There is a lot of mixed information about whether coconut oil is healthy or bad for your heart but I can see that populations with the highest consumption of coconut appear to have lower heart disease risk. Oil pulling, or swishing with coconut oil may not sound all that appealing but I can tell you that after the first few times you will marvel at how white your teeth are if nothing else.

As always, live longer,

Ted

  1. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/01/tokelau-island-migrant-study.html
  2. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health

Posted by Ted Coombs

Ted Coombs
Ted Coombs is a medical anthropologist, futurist and author who is passionate about health through knowledge.