The coconut oil is, without a doubt, the fat of the moment, winning fans every day. However, the benefits you are aspiring to the level of health and weight loss seem to be quite overvalued.
The coconut oil is, without a doubt, the fat of the moment and one of the biggest trends in food and cosmetics in today’s society, due to its versatility.
The benefits that are pointed out are more than many and is, considered by many to be the healthy fat. But is that really so? What are the true benefits of coconut oil? Where can and should it be used? Let’s see.
COCONUT OIL: IMPORTANT FACTS
Extracted from the coconut, the coconut oil is a food interesting from a nutritional point of view, since it is rich in vitamins of the B complex, Vitamin E and K and minerals, more precisely, iron, potassium, magnesium or zinc.
In addition, it is rich in saturated fatty acids and it is, therefore, a fat more solid at room temperature than in the vegetable oils or olive oil.
In effect, the coconut oil has more than 85% of saturated fatty acids in its composition, which have always been associated with the increase of the cholesterol LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and cardiovascular disease.
However, not all saturated fatty acids are equal, because the size of your chain of carbons influences the health effects.
In the case of coconut oil, although the majority of the saturated fatty acids are long chain – the most harmful to health – there is a good proportion of fatty acids of medium chain, which have interesting properties in the management of weight and decreased waist circumference.
In this context, the coconut oil is, by many, considered a functional food, being, however, important to note that this oil can be refined (made with coconut, dry) or extravirgem (produced from fresh fruit), presenting properties and distinct benefits.
The coconut oil extra virgin has an aroma and flavor the coconut is more pronounced and preserves the benefits of the original, making it the ideal place for lovers of coconut. However, it degrades easily when exposed to high temperatures than the refined version.
And despite being more interesting to the health of the that the majority of oils for cooking and the fats of animals, the effect of the ingestion of coconut oil in humans is not fully consistent and conclusive, as we will discuss below.
BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL: WHY SO MUCH FAME?
As mentioned earlier, a part of the benefits of coconut oil are attributed to the fatty acids of medium chain that has.
Inside of the main benefits that you are pointed to the level of health are: improvement in cholesterol, promoting weight loss through increased energy expenditure / metabolism basal oxidation in abdominal fat and appetite reduction, skin hydration and reinforcement of the immune system.
However, if we consider the scientific evidence more current we see that, although it is not a food harmful to health, there are also no conclusive studies to support all the benefits you point to the coconut oil.
In fact, one of the studies that the more force he gave to the coconut oil was a study done by a researcher with the canadian at Columbia University, in 2003, which showed that fatty acids of medium chain coconut oil, despite accounting for only 13% of its constitution, when isolated, promoted the beneficial effects described above, in particular the improvement of cholesterol levels and promoting weight loss.
The question with regard to the conclusion of this study is that these benefits are due to the fact that the fatty acids have been concentrated and isolated, something that doesn’t happen in the coconut oil that we consume, where the amount thereof is very small, and are in conjunction with other nutrients.
Another factor that gave strength to the coconut oil was the fact that some countries in India and the Philippines consume this food, and they display a low prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and lower mortality rate.
Once again, this data is not representative, as these people consume a lot of fiber (vegetables and fruit), a little sugar and processed meats, which, by itself, are much more important factors for the good health indicators that show that the consumption of coconut oil.
Having said that, what we can conclude is that there is still no evidence of sustained and conclusive proof of the much-acclaimed benefits of coconut oil, in particular the improvement of the LDL cholesterol, speed up metabolism and increase fat oxidation.
There are still contradictory information, given that the proportion of fatty acids of medium chain in coconut oil is relatively low to be able to promote these effects.
On the other hand, it should be noted that if you consume this fat crazily may increase the levels of fat mass, because, being a fat, you will have the same nine calories per gram as any other.
COCONUT OIL VS OLIVE OIL: WHAT IS THE BEST OPTION?
As mentioned earlier, despite the benefits of coconut oil being overbought, is a fat interesting from a nutritional point of view, being much more healthy than animal fats and vegetable oils. But what about the oil? Who wins this battle?
Both olive oil as coconut oil is obtained from the pressing of olives and coconuts, both of which are natural fats, and good options to use in the kitchen. In addition, in terms of energy value and amounts of fats that are very close. So what is the big difference?
About a quarter of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which has benefits demonstrated in the reduction of LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. In addition, olive oil is rich in vitamin E, phytosterols, carotenoids and phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant properties which will promote the benefits of monounsaturated fat.
Accordingly, in comparison to the benefits of the indeterminate of the oil of coconut the level of cholesterol and triglycerides, olive oil continues to be the best option with regard to the protection of the cardiovascular and up to a reduction of abdominal fat. In addition, it also has the advantage of its antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory.
OILS FOR COOKING: COCONUT OIL BETWEEN THE OPTIONS?
Oils for cooking, commonly called vegetable oils are derived from, usually, seeds, legumes, dried fruits/oleaginous and a few fruits. Within these oils, we can also include in the olive oil.
Basically, the oils for cooking are fats that remain liquid at ambient temperature, having in its constitution triglycerides, substances composed of fatty acids and glycerol.
These oils are made up of a mixture of fatty acids of the 3 types: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, each oil has different proportions of each, which gives them the stability to heat.
The oils richest in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as sunflower, corn, soybean, peanut and rapeseed, are ideal for seasoning and cooking at lower temperatures, because its smoke point is lower (less than 180°C).
Already oils rich in fatty acids (monounsaturated, such as olive oil, and saturated fatty acids, such as palm oil and coconut generally have better stability to heat and can withstand higher temperatures, being ideas for grilling, sautéing and frying.
The data currently available reveal that olive oil has a “smoke point” higher, on the order of 190°C – 220°C (depending on whether it is refined or not), for comparison to the coconut oil – 177°C to 200°C, or sunflower oil is usually used – 177°C.
Another index that it is important to consider is the potential for oxidation of these fats (lipid peroxidation), quantified through the amount of peroxides (substances with the potential oxidant and carcinogen) that it generates.
At this level, the coconut oil, when subjected to temperatures between 170°C and 190°C, generates a smaller amount of peroxides than other oils, namely, sunflower oil, sesame and palm. With the olive oil, it is not possible to establish direct comparison, because there is not enough evidence.
COCONUT OIL FOR COOKING
After what was referred to in the previous point, in respect to the use of coconut oil for cooking, it may be a good option, since, because of their content of saturated fatty acids, is a fat more stable at high temperatures, is not degraded as easily as other fats and oils for cooking.
In this context, it is important to note that the coconut oil refined can handle higher temperatures without losing the properties of that version extravirgem.
However, if its use is repeated, and continuous can lead to a decrease of the temperature of the smoke and to the production of compounds potentially carcinogenic, since the temperature conducive to the formation of these compounds is relatively low.
BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL: APPLICATIONS NON-FOOD
Use the coconut oil in the hair, has as main purpose to moisturize and nourish the scalp in a natural way without resorting to conditioners and creams, more chemicals to the effect.
Indeed, as the coconut oil penetrates deeply in the hair, it allows a deep hydration of the same, as opposed to other oils that just do it superficially. In this way, operates effectively to dry hair, in particular in the ends, the more damaged.
In addition, this oil also helps to strengthen the hair, makes it more resistant to the effects of moisture and more brilliant, effects that play out in all types of hair.
In addition to moisturizing, coconut oil also promotes the nutrition of hair through its antioxidantsand natural vitamins, which help protect the hair from external aggressions and leave you softer and more healthy.
To end the list of benefits, coconut oil is also very effective to eliminate dandruff, promotes hair growth faster and, for those who do it everyday, helps to reduce the damage caused by chemical compounds. Simply, for this, apply a few drops in the paint and mix well before use.
2. IN THE SKIN
At the level of the skin, the benefits of coconut oil are also quite interesting, being in large part derived from the presence of lauric acid (a fatty acid most abundant in its composition.
In effect, the coconut oil, the level of the skin, acts as moisturizer, antibacterial and antifungal natural, and has the ability to penetrate properly into the deeper layers of the skin, allowing you to heal injuries, promote the elasticity, help in the healing process, and even treat acne.
Derived from these benefits it presents to the skin, it can work as make-up remover natural, prevent and improve spots on the skin, acting as a post-depilatory, such as exfoliating as moisturizing the hands and cuticles, as a preventive measure for stretch marks, among others.
By the fact that also exhibit antibacterial properties, coconut oil can also work as a deodorizer, neutralizing the bacteria responsible for bad odor after sweating.
3. FOR ACNE
As mentioned, one of the benefits of coconut oil for the skin is the level of acne, and its use for this purpose one of the new beauty trends.
Acne arises when the production of sebum (oil that lubricates the skin and keeps it moist and soft) by the sebaceous glands becomes excessive and clogs the pores. When clogged, the pores don’t release that oil, which, in turn, causes contamination and leads to the appearance of bacteria in the skin, resulting in inflammation and appearance of acne.
This excess production of sebum can be triggered by several factors including hormonal changes, high stress levels or even by the type of diet.
In this sense, and despite the coconut oil to be a fat, due to its antimicrobial properties and the high content of vitamins, can help minimize acne.
In fact, when in contact with human skin, some of the fatty acids present in coconut oil are converted in substances that help protect the skin from acne and other infections, destroying bacteria and microbes.
Another important component of coconut oil for acne is vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for skin and hair healthy. This vitamin help regulate the production of sebum and unclog the pores of the skin, thus preventing the appearance of acne and pimples.
To achieve these effects, simply wipe previously the skin, apply a thin layer of oil on the face, and then do a gentle massage with the fingertips, left to act for about 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, just wash your face and apply your moisturizer as usual.
OTHER APPLICATIONS OF COCONUT OIL
1. AS A POST-DEPILATORY
It is also possible to use the coconut oil not only to remove the remains of wax depilatória, but also to hydrate the skin from the aggressions that you just suffer with hair removal. This is done by warming the oil in hands, move in the area shaved and let the skin absorb the oil.
2. AS MAKE-UP REMOVER
The coconut oil can also work with a make-up remover natural. You only need to put in a disk of cotton and apply on face in circular motions. In the end, is to only wash the face as usual.
3. MOISTURIZING CUTICLES
The coconut oil can also help soften and moisturize the cuticles, a sensitive area that can give many problems if not cared for properly.
Simply apply a little coconut oil on each nail and let sit for a few minutes. At the end of this time the cuticles are perfect.
4. TO CARE LIP BALMS
There are those who use the coconut oil as a lip balm (just apply the oil) or as a scrub to keep lips soft and hydrated.
In the latter case, you only need to mix 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with brown sugar or yellow until you get a thick paste, apply on the lips (with your fingers), with smooth movements and, by order, withdraw with water.
We can consider that despite being a healthy fat than most animal fats and vegetable oils, many of the benefits of coconut oil lack of scientific evidence clear and consistent that sustains it.
In this sense, we can include it in your diet as an alternative to butters, margarines, oils, among other fats to make your recipes more healthy and nutritious. As fat for seasoning and confectionery, olive oil continues to be the best option that we have available.
However, it does have applications very interesting especially at the level of the skin and hair.
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