Extra virgin coconut oil, the fat that is good for health: here are its properties and benefits

If you think all fats are bad for our health, you probably don’t know the properties of coconut oil! Did you know that it reduces your appetite, burns more calories and can help you lose weight?

More and more scientific studies show it: coconut oil , a vegetable fat extracted from the pulp of coconut , although it has, like butter and palm oil , a high percentage of saturated fatty acids (about 82% ) is not such a harmful fat, indeed we can consider it a healthy food that has important beneficial effects , if chosen of quality and consumed in the right doses.

The Tokelauans , a population of the South Pacific, are well acquainted with it , who use coconut as the predominant food in their diet and who enjoy excellent health despite being known to be the largest consumers of saturated fats in the world!

Coconut oil: calories and nutritional values

So what’s the secret of coconut oil ? Its composition! It contains a particular type of fat, medium-chain triglycerides , which our body metabolizes in a different way than the others: in fact, these fats are sent directly to the liver through the digestive tract, where they are used to obtain energy or to be transformed into ketones.

When it comes to calorie intake, coconut oil develops nearly 900 calories per 100 grams . We point out, however, that the recommended daily consumption is well below 100 grams, therefore, if inserted in a context of healthy nutrition, it can be introduced daily to the extent of 1 or 2 tablespoons a day.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of coconut oil:
Waterfall 0,03 g
kcal 892
Proteins 0 g
Fat 99,06 g
of which saturated 82,475 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
of which sugars 0 g
Fibre 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Phytosterols 86 mg
(USDA source)

Coconut oil: properties and benefits

Its particular composition gives coconut oil important properties , ranging from stimulating the metabolism to fighting viruses and bacteria. It can also be an important ally in body care as it has moisturizing and protective properties.
Let’s see in detail all the benefits of coconut oil :

✓ Helps burn more calories

It has been shown that medium-chain triglycerides, of which coconut oil is rich, as we have seen, have the general effect of stimulating the metabolism to work faster and thus to burn more calories. It has been calculated that a daily consumption of 15-30 gr. of medium chain triglycerides increases energy expenditure by 5%, for a total of about 120 Kcal burned per day.

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✓ Helps to lose fat, especially abdominal fat

Precisely because it stimulates the metabolism, coconut oil can be an important ally for those who want to lose weight : a 2009 study showed that the consumption in women of 30ml (3 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day for 12 weeks does not It does not only cause weight gain, it also leads to a reduction in abdominal or visceral fat , a very dangerous and difficult to lose type of fat that contributes to more heart problems. Keep in mind that this property of coconut oil not only helps humans but also our 4-legged friends!

Read also: Coconut oil, a weight loss aid: that’s why consuming it wakes up the metabolism

✓ Reduces appetite, promoting satiety

Another interesting feature of coconut oil is that it can reduce the sense of hunger , increase the sense of satiety and thus facilitate weight control. This appears to be due to the action of ketone bodies that form in the liver as a result of the transformation of medium-chain fatty acids.

✓ Contrasts hepatic steatosis and has hepatoprotective effects

Coconut oil is good for the liver . By virtue of its ability to reduce triglyceride and cholesterol values and improve the glycemic response, this oil has been shown to have protective effects on the liver , improving the condition of this organ even in case of steatosis (the so-called ” fatty liver “).

✓ Keeps the heart healthy

Many studies have shown the benefits of coconut oil on the cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of coconut oil, in fact, reduces cardiovascular risks thanks to the decrease in the levels of total and bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, while, by increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) it would act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-stress.

✓ Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties

Thanks to the action of lauric acid (which makes up about 50% of the fatty acids of coconut oil) and the monolauric monoglyceride, coconut oil protects against attack by viruses and bacteria and can also help fight yeasts. , mushrooms and candida .

✓ Keeps the brain healthy

Numerous studies have focused on the potential preventive and curative role of coconut oil on neurodegenerative disorders and on strengthening cognitive functions in general. The medium chain triglycerides present in virgin coconut oil can be rapidly metabolized to produce ketone bodies , which are useful in the treatment of various neurological conditions. In particular, an immediate improvement in brain function has been seen in patients with mild forms of Alzheimer’s disease . The antioxidant properties of this oil may also be helpful in treating these disorders.

✓ Antioxidant properties of coconut oil

Various scientific studies demonstrate the antioxidant properties of coconut oil , which appears to be able to protect cells from factors that promote oxidative processes and therefore aging and cell death. In fact, coconut oil is rich in polyphenols such as coumaric acid, ferulic acid and caffeic acid.

✓ Anti-inflammatory effects on the skin

The anti-inflammatory effects of coconut oil on the skin have been extensively studied. Numerous scientific studies have shown that this oil and its variant obtained in the laboratory through repeated fermentation effects, if applied to the skin, are able to protect the stratum corneum of the epidermis as they induce the epidermis itself to produce anti-inflammatory molecules. This property is to be attributed to the polyphenols contained in this oil.

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✓ Coconut oil for body care

Another peculiarity, coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer for the skin and hair as it has a good amount of vitamin E, a very protective antioxidant . Studies on people with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the dermis.

Another application for body care is as a mouthwash : coconut oil can in fact kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth, improve dental health (it can be used instead of toothpaste as it also has a powerful whitening and anti -spots) and reduce bad breath.

Finally, it can be used as a sunscreen for the hair , useful in reducing hair damage by blocking about 20% of the ultraviolet sun rays.

How to use virgin coconut oil

It is possible to use virgin coconut oil in cooking both to season our dishes raw and in cooking . In fact, coconut oil has a fairly high smoke point and therefore lends itself to cooking at high temperatures.

It can also be used to dress salads, cold dishes or even in the dough for desserts, given the particularly delicate flavor. It can also be dissolved in a cup of tea or in a fresh fruit smoothie. Another idea to use this food is to spread it on bread instead of butter, in this case it is however necessary to keep the oil at room temperature below 25 degrees, in order to solidify it. In fact, remember that below 25 degrees coconut oil solidifies . For food consumption, of course, virgin coconut oil is recommended and not refined coconut oil , which has undergone bleaching and deodorization processes.

Now let’s see specifically some ideas for using edible coconut oil in the kitchen:

  • In desserts to reduce sugar : virgin and undeodorized coconut oil has the typical taste of coconut, fragrant, sweet and very tasty. For this it can be used in recipes instead of sugar, or to replace only a part of it. You can, for example, use it in the preparation of desserts instead of butter, to be mixed with flour and milk. You can thus use coconut oil in making homemade biscuits , pies or brioches;
  • On bread with jam : as mentioned above, a delicious idea to use food coconut oil in the kitchen is to replace it with butter in the famous bread, butter and jam. In this case, simply put a small knob of coconut butter (i.e. solidified coconut oil) on a slice of bread and spread your favorite jam on top. Coconut oil goes well with strawberry and blueberry, but you can experiment with any type of jam. You will thus obtain a healthy and nutritious snack;
  • In smoothies : Coconut oil is perfect for making exotic flavored smoothies or smoothies! In this case it is sufficient to add a teaspoon of coconut oil to each glass of smoothie, combined with a pinch of milk or coconut milk, another derivative of coconut widely used in cooking. The taste of coconut (and therefore also coconut oil) goes well with other tropical fruits such as mango, papaya or passion fruit but nothing prevents you from experimenting with other flavors and finding your favorite;
  • Instead of olive oil : coconut oil can be used like olive oil to cook food. To use it in this way you can put a nut in a pan and add all the ingredients of your recipes. You will give an exotic touch to each dish. We would like to point out, however, that olive oil is an oil with incredible beneficial qualities and should not always be replaced. You can therefore experiment with coconut oil from time to time, but it is recommended to use extra virgin olive oil as the main oil in the kitchen.
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The recommended amount to use is about 30 grams of coconut oil per day , but it must be taken into account that, being an oil, if we intend to consume it with a certain regularity, it will have to partially or totally replace any other fatty condiment that we usually use. otherwise both the calories in our diet and the amount of saturated fatty acids will rise considerably, thus exceeding the recommended daily amount.

Not only in cooking, coconut oil is also widely used for the beauty of skin and hair . In particular it is an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair, it can be used as a moisturizer for the lips, as a makeup remover, etc. To learn more about all the cosmetic uses of coconut oil, we invite you to read our article: Coconut oil for skin and hair care: user guide .

Coconut oil: contraindications

The use of coconut oil has no particular contraindications, the important thing is not to overdo it, it is still a fat, largely saturated. In fact, we shouldn’t have more than 10% saturated fat in our diet! As we anticipated above, studies speak of 2 tablespoons a day to have benefits.

The quality that must be chosen for food consumption is exclusively extra virgin , it is a coconut oil obtained by cold pressing, not refined, not deodorized, not bleached; all these characteristics guarantee a high content of lauric acid and the conservation of vitamins such as E.

Also, remember that if you use this oil regularly for body care it is preferable to choose an organic extra virgin coconut oil , to reduce the absorption of toxins and pesticides.

Curiosity
Coconut oil is solid at temperatures below 25 ° C and should be stored in the dark, preferably out of the refrigerator. It also has excellent heat resistance, which makes it a particularly suitable fat for cooking at high temperatures even if it is certainly not among the cheapest oils to use! But with a little DIY it is possible to self-produce it at home with very few tools starting from coconut flour or coconut pulp.
Have you ever thought of self – producing it ? Let us know below in the comments!

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