31 July, 2020
At least in South India, coconut oil is the staple oil that is used for cooking and many other purposes. There was a time when people started junking coconut oil as unhealthy and linked them to heart issues. Many households have switched to refined oils like sunflower, sesame, olive, etc., said to be healthier. However, coconut oil has come back in the healthy debate in recent times, and with scientific evidence to back its many health benefits.
Of course, we know that our ancestors were using a lot of stuff that formed the basis of not just their longevity, but also the fact that they rarely fell seriously ill. Much of it can now be attributed to their wisdom about the health benefits of most ingredients used for cooking. After all, you are what you eat, they say. Most Indian households use immunity-boosting spices in their regular cooking, and coconut oil (South) and mustard or sesame (North) as well. Perhaps, with these immunity-boosting spices being backed by the Ayush ministry during this Corona pandemic, there is merit in all these ancient practices to sustain our health. Let’s take a look at what health benefits coconut oil provides us.
Good for heart health
Contrary to what was being projected, the fatty acids in coconut oil are healthy and beneficial to our bodies, as they help burn fat. They also help in raising the HDL or the good cholesterol in the blood, which is good for the heart. Also, the dietary fat in coconut oil goes straight to the liver and works as quick energy sources. It is not just that; it also reduces the power of the LDL, the bad cholesterol as well.
Moreover, research conducted on people who lived on coconut and its oil as a staple showed significantly fewer issues with the heart. The overall health was also seen to be good, with very low rates of stroke or any other form of heart issues. So, the conclusions drawn from these studies were that coconut consumption was good for the heart. Of course, as with the case of most other food, it also needs to be taken in moderation.
If you have heard of oil pulling, you may already know about the anti-microbial properties of coconut oil. With most people wanting to avoid visiting a dentist during this pandemic, oil pulling was being suggested as a good oral health measure. A point to be noted is that oil pulling is not a replacement of any regular oral measures like brushing or flossing. Nor is it a regularised treatment and for any issues, one must consult a dentist. However, coconut oil is said to have anti-microbial properties that help destroy the bacteria that cause infections. This also works in maintaining oral health through oil pulling.
In this method, people use a spoonful of oil to continuously swish it around in their mouth for a few minutes and then spit it out. This is said to be as good as an anti-bacterial mouthwash. It is lauric acid present in the coconut oil that gives it the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
Good for skin and hair health
Using coconut oil for body and head massages is another common use in parts where the coconut consumption is a staple. It has been proved scientifically that coconut oil improves the moisture content of the skin, thus keeping healthy and shiny. Also, it even helps with conditions like eczema, by reducing the symptoms. It has also been known to protect hair from damage. Scientific studies have proven that coconut oil is better in preventing protein loss from hair, which again is attributed to the lauric acid present in it. This property is also said to help with hair growth.
It also provides some level of UV protection (SPF 8 level) when you step out, and its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties also prevent dandruff and lice.
May help with Alzheimer’s disease
The greatest fear of most people who are aging, is having Alzheimer’s disease and then having to rely on caregivers until the end of their life. There is a lot of study going about the brain and its activities to understand this condition better. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that have been shown to improve brain condition in people with Alzheimer’s. These are capable of providing ketones as an alternate source of energy to the brain, thus helping with the condition.
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