In recent years, coconut has become wildly popular. Coconut water is available in nearly every grocery store. Coconut flesh is dried and used as flakes on yogurt. Coconut flour replaces traditional flour in baked goods. And coconut milk is used in fashionable curry dishes. As many coconut fanatics know, this large tropical seed not only tastes delicious but is also good for you -- especially in the form of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which are the healthy fatty acids also found in dairy products like yogurt and milk, according to LiveStrong. Unlike other fats, these are quickly processed and used for energy, as opposed to being stored. Coconut oil also contains laurie acid and caprylic acid, which are important for treating viruses and bacteria, respectively. Coconut is also a source of vitamin E, vitamin K and iron.
Adding coconut oil to your diet can have surprising effects on your health. Here are 8 of them:
1. Support thyroid function. Prevent Disease explains the underlying causes of thyroid issues are problems with inflammation and the immune system. When these are not in check, a person can suffer from an unbalanced thyroid. Coconut oil can be effective in not only helping regulate the immune system but also in decreasing inflammation, making it doubly effective in helping thyroid function. When combined with exercise and an overall balanced diet, regular consumption of coconut oil helps support thyroid function.
2. Increase sun tolerance and avoid sunburn. Your diet can have a surprisingly big effect on your chance of getting a sunburn. According to Wellness Mama, a diet rich in healthy fats can help build your tolerance against the sun. By drinking a cup of herbal tea blended with melted coconut oil, you can increase your intake of medium-chain fatty acids, which are essential for rejuvenating skin and protecting against burning.
3. Treat yeast infections. Coconut oil is rich in laurie acid and caprylic acid, both of which fight against yeast infections. Coconut oil is also a medium-chain fatty acid, which is known to kill yeast as well as viruses and bacteria. Naturopathic physician and president of the Coconut Research Center Dr. Bruce Fife recommends people who are particularly prone to yeast infections consume 3.5 tablespoons of high-quality organic extra virgin coconut oil daily.
4. Boost metabolism. If your metabolism needs a boost, the best thing you can do is introduce medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil, into your diet. According to naturopath Dr. John Dempster in an article for Huffington Post, nonhydrogenated coconut oil increases the amount of fat that is burned in your body. As Dempster explains, "We have to eat fat to lose fat."
5. Soothe eczema and other skin conditions. A personal story published on the National Eczema Association demonstrates how using organic virgin coconut oil (get here) can be a lifesaver for people, particularly children, who suffer from eczema and other painful skin conditions like dermatitis. Not only is it all natural and thus unlikely to cause any additional reaction, but it is also easy to apply and requires minimal touch and rubbing to soak into the skin.
6. Alleviate allergies and treat sinus infections. It may sound strange, but putting coconut oil in your nose can have surprisingly positive effects for people who suffer from allergies and sinus infections. Earth Clinic explains coconut oil is a natural antibiotic that is effective when ingested and used in oil pulling and as a nasal rinse. To use coconut oil as a nasal rinse, add liquid coconut oil to purified water mixed with salt or baking soda. Apply the natural nasal rinse using a dropper or neti pot.
7. Relieve constipation. Coconut oil not only boosts your metabolism but is also rich in fiber. It is therefore among the best home remedies to treat constipation. LiveStrong recommends mixing 1/2 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil (get here) in an 8-ounce glass of 100 percent natural juice. Drink the entire glass 30 minutes before each meal, three to four times a day. Your body will thank you.
8. Fight acne. Acne is caused by bacterial infections in skin glands. These infections become inflamed, causing those familiar red facial swellings. Coconut oil is a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it highly effective in fighting acne at its source. Organic Facts recommends both consumption and topical application of coconut oil for best results.
Coconut oil has so many positive benefits, it is hard to find a reason not to make it a part of your daily diet. Take the advice of Coconut Mama and use it as a replacement for butter or olive oil when pan-frying just about anything. You can also use it as a substitute for butter or shortening when baking.
Interested in coconut oil? It's available for purchase here.
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