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13 Most Underrated Benefits of Coconut Oil

What's all the buzz about? Can coconut oil really help you lose weight and improve your health?

You've no doubt noticed that coconut oil is on everyone's lips lately. Quite literally, too, as people are using it in place of Chapstick. You may also be aware that it's in their frying pans, their smoothies, their hair, and in a little jar on their nightstand. What underlies this oil's recent adoption by the masses is the sheer benefits of coconut oil for the mind, body, and soul that it promises.

And it's not a marketing spin; a growing body of research shows that adding coconut oil to your diet and your person could be one of the easiest ways to improve your health, well-being, appearance, and even your sex life. Read on to learn about some of the coconut oil benefits and how to incorporate it more in your diet with these 20 Coconut Oil Recipes That Will Shrink Your Waist.

It helps you lose weight

woman stepping on scale in pink flats

A meta-analysis of 13 studies published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can help you lose weight when they replace long-chain triglycerides (like those from soybean and canola oil) in your diet. And a Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology showed that the MCT in coconut oil can increase diet-induced thermogenesis in humans by as much as 6%.

Yet another study found MCTs to increase 24-hour energy expenditure in humans by as much as 5%. Now, burning an extra 100-120 calories per day might not sound like much, but over a year, it amounts to at least 36,000 calories.

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It kills bacteria

woman with sore throat

Around half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. Lauric acid is particularly good at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi; therefore, it's great in helping you stave off infections when used externally. To get the most potent antibacterial properties, a Journal of Medicinal Food study found virgin coconut oil—rather than refined—to be your best bet.

On the other hand, when you ingest coconut oil, it reacts with enzymes to forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. And guess what? Monolaurin is great for killing harmful pathogens, too! In addition to keeping all kinds of nastiness at bay, both of these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria and very dangerous pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans, which is a common source of yeast infections.

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It can be used in the bedroom

bedroom light on

There are many life-enhancing uses for coconut oil, but one of the most fun results takes place in the bedroom. You'd use it in there for the same reasons that you'd use it in other rooms in the house: It's yummy, it's organic, it's all-natural, and it stops things from sticking. I'm talking about sex, people!

Not only does coconut oil feel, taste, and smell good when used to add a little flavor to your sex life, but it also happens to be good for you. It's moisturizing and, as noted above, it's anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which means it does a great job at preventing yeast infections—unlike riskier foods like whipped cream. As with any oil, coconut oil shouldn't be used with latex condoms because it will weaken the latex, resulting in tears. While you're slipping the benefits of coconut oil into your sex life, be sure to avoid these 27 Foods That Kill Your Sex Drive!

It can help you build and maintain muscle

man exercising outdoors running

As mentioned above, the MCTs in coconut oil are good for upping your body's energy expenditure and burning calories. Here's yet another way this wonder-stuff can help your body. It's great for building muscle, according to a Diabetes study!

The MCTs found in coconut are also used in popular muscle-building products like Perfect Keto Protein Powder. But many supplements use processed forms of MCTs. By eating adding actual coconut oil, you'll benefit from getting your MCTs in their natural and most effective form. Add 1-2 tablespoons of it to a muscle-building shake daily to feel the full benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut oil curbs appetite

empty white plate with fork and knife

Scientists suspect that coconut oil's interesting effect on hunger may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch and had regulated blood sugar, proving that adding the MCT-rich benefits of coconut oil to one's diet could have a very positive effect on weight and body composition. You can also use a blender to add it to your coffee for a tasty pick-me-up.

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It helps with memory disorders

Close up Portrait of young woman with headache

A 2004 study published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging demonstrated that the MCTs found in coconut oil improved the memory problems their older subjects were experiencing. All patients felt the benefits of coconut oil in the study and saw a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking the fatty acid. It's thought that this is due to MCTs being absorbed more easily in the body. As they can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin, they can more efficiently fuel brain cells.

This is especially good news for people suffering from cognitive disorders. As the brain of an Alzheimer's patient has lost the ability to create insulin, the ketones from the coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function, the study suggests.

It promotes heart health

Older man and woman holding hands in shape of heart for good heart health

Coconut oil is high in natural saturated fats. That may not sound like a positive but the saturated fats in coconuts work in a different way than those found in animal-derived foods like butter, cream, cheese, and meat. According to an Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine study, coconut oil increases the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in your body. By increasing the HDL in the body and changing the ratio of HDL to LDL, the saturated fat in coconut oil helps promote heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.

And for more heart-healthy options, here are 20 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.

It's a great moisturizer for your skin and hair

woman looking at red acne spots on chin in mirror, upset young female dissatisfied by unhealthy skin

Studies on individuals with dry skin show that coconut oil can improve the moisture and lipid content of the skin. Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage. If you have dandruff or dry hair, coconut oil is chock full of fatty acids that can improve these conditions.

A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that coconut oil is the only oil that can prevent hair damage and protein loss because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, which allows it to penetrate inside the hair shaft. Based on the study's findings, use coconut oil before and after washing your hair to reap the benefits.

It improves your oral health

Man brushing teeth

Ever heard of oil pulling? Well, before the invention of toothpaste, the act of swishing oil around the mouth was a method of cleansing the mouth of bacteria and for helping to heal the nasty ravages of periodontal disease. An abundance of MCTs is the reason why coconut oil is one of the many effective oils to pull with. The oil lifts the bacteria from the surfaces within the mouth and that's great because removing oral bacteria greatly reduces your risk of disease around your gums. A 2008 study found that oil pulling reduced plaque-causing bacteria. Experts recommend coconut oil pulling three times a week for 20 minutes a day to protect your mouth and its valuable contents.

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It may help balance hormones

Woman on bus commuting

Hormone disruption can cause a litany of problems in men and women. Coconut oil can help in maintaining an important balance of hormones because of the lauric acid it contains. A 2012 study conducted in the Philippines has suggested that coconut oil may be an excellent fat to consume during menopause and also may have a positive effect on estrogen levels. Speaking of hormones, check out these foods that switch on your fat-burning hormones.

It can reduce the risk of seizures

Happy mom and child

Let's talk about ketones some more—they're pretty darn interesting. The best known therapeutic application of the ketogenic diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children. This diet involves eating very little carbohydrates and large amounts of fat, leading to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood. A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has found that this diet can dramatically reduce the occurrence of seizures in epileptic people, even those who haven't had success with multiple different types of drugs.

It can treat inflammation & arthritis

Couple walking dog

An Indian study published in International Immunopharmacology showed that the high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil reduced inflammation and healing arthritis more effectively than leading medications. Another study demonstrated that coconut oil harvested with medium (and not high) heat was found to suppress inflammatory cells. It worked as both an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory.

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It can aid in treating osteoporosis

Doctor consulting with patient presenting results on x-ray film

As mentioned above, one of the amazing benefits of coconut oil is that it increases the absorption of absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals in the gut. One of those minerals being calcium. An Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine study has found that adding coconut oil to the diet increased bone volume and structure in subjects and decreased bone loss due to osteoporosis.

But osteoporosis isn't just about calcium: oxidative stress and free radicals are also a cause of the condition. Since coconut oil has such high levels of antioxidants that help fight free radicals, it is a leading natural treatment for the painful and sometimes debilitating condition. To get more antioxidants into your diet, stock up on these antioxidant-packed fruits and veggies.

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