Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a
“superfood.” Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound
positive effects on health. This includes fat loss, better brain function
and various other amazing benefits. Here are the top 10 health
benefits of coconut oil that have been experimentally confirmed in
human studies.
 Coconut Oil Contains a Unique Combination of Fatty Acids With
Powerful Medicinal Properties
Coconut oil has been demonized in the past because it contains
saturated fat. In fact, coconut oil is one of the richest sources of
saturated fat known to man, with almost 90% of the fatty acids in it
being saturated.
However, new data is showing that saturated fats are harmless. Many
massive studies that include hundreds of thousands of people prove
that the whole “artery-clogging” idea was a myth.
Additionally, coconut oil doesn’t contain your average run-of-the-mill
saturated fats like you would find in cheese or steak.
No, they contain fatty acids of a medium length.
Most of the fatty acids in the diet are long-chain fatty acids, but the
medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently.
They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are
used as a quick source energy or turned into so-called ketone bodies,
which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy
and Alzheimer’s.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil contains a lot of medium chain
triglycerides, which are metabolized differently and can have
therapeutic effects on several brain disorders.
 Populations That Eat a LOT of Coconut Are Among The Healthiest
People on The Planet
Coconut is kind of an “exotic” food in the Western world, primarily
consumed by health conscious people. However, in some parts of the
world, coconut is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for
many generations.

The best example of such a population is the Tokelauans which live in
the South Pacific. They eat over 60% of their calories from coconuts
and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. These
people are in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease
which live in the South Pacific. They eat over 60% of their calories
from coconuts and are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the
world. These people are in excellent health, with no evidence of heart
Another example of a population that eats a lot of coconut and
remains in excellent health is the Kitavans.
Bottom Line: Plenty of populations around the world have thrived for
multiple generations eating massive amounts of coconut.
 Coconut Oil Can Increase Your Energy Expenditure, Helping You
Burn More Fat
Obesity is currently one of the biggest health problems in the world.
While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, others
(myself included) believe that the sources of those calories are
critical too. It is a fact that different foods affect our bodies and
hormones in different ways. In this regard, a calorie is NOT a calorie.
The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil can increase
energy expenditure compared to the same amount of calories from
longer chain fats.
One study found that 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24 hour
energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day.
Bottom Line: The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have
been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as
5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term.
 The Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil Can Kill Bacteria, Viruses and
Fungi, Helping to Stave Off Infections
Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric
Acid. When coconut oil is enzymatically digested, it also forms a
monoglyceride called monolaurin.
Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like
bacteria, viruses and fungi. For example, these substances have been
shown to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus (a very dangerous
pathogen) and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast
infections in humans.
Bottom Line: The fatty acids and breakdown products in coconut oil
can kill harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent infections.

 Coconut Oil Can Kill Your Hunger, Making You Eat Less Without
Even Trying
One interesting feature of coconut oil is that it can reduce your
This may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized,
because ketone bodies can have an appetite reducing effect. In one
study, varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were
fed to 6 healthy men.
The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on
average. Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who
ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at
These studies were small and only done for a short period of time. If
this effect were to persist over the long term, it could have a dramatic
influence on body weight over a period of several years.
Bottom Line: The fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce
appetite, which may positively affect body weight over the long term.
 The Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil Are Turned into Ketones, Which
Can Reduce Seizures
A so-called ketogenic (very low carb very high fat) diet is currrently
being studied to treat various disorders. The best known therapeutic
application of this 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 ketone bodies in
the blood.
For some reason, this diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures
in epileptic children, even those who haven’t had success with
multiple different types of drugs.
Because the MCTs in coconut oil get shipped to the liver and turned
into ketone bodies, they are often used in epileptic patients to induce
ketosis while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet.
Bottom Line: The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood
concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in
epileptic children.
 Coconut Oil Can Improve Blood Cholesterol Levels and May Lower
Your Risk of Heart Disease

Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fats, which actually do not harm
the blood lipid profile like previously thought.
Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL
cholesterol to a benign subtype.
In one study in 40 women, coconut oil reduced Total and LDL
cholesterol while increasing HDL compared to soybean oil. There are
also rat studies showing that coconut oil reduces triglycerides, total
and LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and improves blood coagulation
factors and antioxidant status.
This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors should theoretically
lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.
Bottom Line: Studies in both humans and rats show that coconut oil
improves important risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol,
which may translate to a reduced risk of heart disease.
 Coconut Oil Can Protect Hair Against Damage, Moisturize Skin
and Function as Sunscreen
Coconut oil can serve various purposes that have nothing to do with
eating it. Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes and to
improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair. 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 and one
study shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the
sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Another application is using it like mouthwash in a process called oil
pulling, which can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth,
improve dental health and reduce bad breath.
Bottom Line: Coconut oil can be applied topically as well, studies
showing it to be effective as a skin moisturizer and protecting against
hair damage. It can also be used as a mild form of sunscreen and as
 Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Fat, Especially the Dangerous Fat
in Your Abdominal Cavity
Given that coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it
makes sense that it can also help you lose weight.

Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal
fat, which lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs. This is
the most dangerous fat of all and is highly associated with many
Western diseases.
Waist circumference is easily measured and is a great marker for the
amount of fat in the abdominal cavity. A study in 40 women with
abdominal obesity, supplementing with 30 mL (1 ounce) of coconut oil
per day lead to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist
circumference in a period of 12 weeks.
Another study in 20 obese males noted a reduction in waist
circumference of 2.86 cm (1.1 inches) after 4 weeks of 30 mL (1
ounce) of coconut oil per day.
This number may not seem too impressive on the surface, but be
aware that these people aren’t adding exercise or restricting calories.
They’re losing significant amounts of abdominal fat simply by adding
coconut oil to their diet.
If you want to enjoy the health benefits outlined in the article, then
you must get organic, virgin coconut oil… NOT the refined stuff. This is
really just the tip of the iceberg. People are using coconut oil for all
sorts of things with incredible success.

Coconut oil, according to recent reports, is the latest food cure-all.
Claims abound that coconut oil is a health food that can cure
everything from poor immune function, thyroid disease, and heart
disease, to obesity, cancer, and HIV.
So should you stock up on coconut oil? Not so fast.
The evidence that coconut oil is super-healthful is not convincing and
these claims appear to be more testimonials than clinical evidence.
There is very limited evidence on disease outcomes, says Dariush
Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School
of Public Health. "All that has been studied well is the impact of
coconut oil on cholesterol levels and the findings are intriguing but we
still don't know if it is harmful or beneficial," Mozaffarian says.
Neither the American Heart Association (AHA) nor the U.S.
government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest that coconut oil is any
better or preferable over other saturated fats. Coconut oil, like all
saturated fats, should be limited to 7%-10% of calories because it can

increase risk for heart disease, according to the AHA and 2010 Dietary
What Is Coconut Oil?
Pure virgin coconut oil, containing no hydrogenation (the process of
adding hydrogen to make a liquid fat hard), contains 92% saturated
fat -- the highest amount of saturated fat of any fat.
Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature, found in animal
products (such as meat, dairy, poultry with skin, and beef fat) and
contain cholesterol. Unlike animal fats, tropical oils -- palm, palm
kernel, and coconut oils -- are saturated fats that are called oils but
depending on room temperature can be solid, semi-solid, or liquid, and
do not contain cholesterol.
Like all fats, coconut oil is a blend of fatty acids. Coconut oil contains
an unusual blend of short and medium chain fatty acids, primarily
lauric (44%) and myristic (16.8%) acids. It is this unusual composition
that may offer some health benefits.
Additionally, "because they come from coconuts, they may contain
beneficial plant chemicals that have yet to be discovered," says
Mozaffarian, researcher and co-director of the cardiovascular
epidemiology program at Harvard.
As for calories, all fats have the same number of calories per gram.
One tablespoon of coconut oils contains 117 calories, 14 grams fat, 12
g saturated fat, and no vitamins or minerals.
Is Coconut Oil Better Than Other Fats and Oils?
"Coconut oil is better than butter and trans fats but not as good as
liquid vegetable oils," says Penn State University cardiovascular
nutrition researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD.
Mozaffarian agrees that coconut oil is better
hydrogenated trans fats and possibly animal fats.



"But even though coconut oil is cholesterol-free, it is still a saturated
fat that needs to be limited in the diet and if you are looking for real
health benefits, switch from saturated fats to unsaturated fats by
using vegetable oils like soybean, canola, corn, or olive oil," says KrisEtherton, a member of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines advisory
committee and Institute of Medicine's panel on dietary reference
intakes for macronutrients (which include fats).
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but the trick is to eat
enough fat, not too much, and choose the best fats as often as
possible. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that fats make up 20% to

35% of total calories and saturated fats less than 10%. And even
though coconut oil is liquid, the Dietary Guidelines consider it a solid
fat that they recommend Americans reduce, along with added sugars.
As long as you keep the amount of saturated fat to less than 10% of
calories, the choice is up to you. "Foods that contain coconut oil are
not usually nutrient powerhouses so it is better to choose your
saturated fats from foods that are nutrient-rich, like cheese and lean
protein," says Connie Diekman, Med, RD, author of The Everything
Mediterranean Diet.
Where Is The Evidence?
Coconut oil has some heart-friendly fatty acids (myristic) but more
heart-unfriendly fatty acids (lauric), says Roger Clemens, DrPH,
spokesman and incoming president of Institute of Food Technologists
and member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines committee.
A meta-analysis of 60 studies evaluated the effects of individual fats
on risk of coronary artery disease. A few studies looked at coconut oil
and found the combination of fatty acids improved the ratio of total
cholesterol: HDL (good) cholesterol but they also raised LDL (bad)
"Saturated fats can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and even though a
few studies showed it may improve the ratio of cholesterol to HDL
cholesterol, they also showed an increase in LDL cholesterol and
bottom line, any food that increases LDL cholesterol should be limited
because LDL cholesterol is the main treatment target for heart
disease," Kris Etherton says.
However, there is debate over the role of saturated fat and the role of
LDL cholesterol.
Mozaffarian says LDL cholesterol is just one of many biomarkers for
heart disease risk. "LDL is important but so is HDL and which is more
important and relevant to good health is speculative so we should look
beyond LDL in isolation to determine a food's health impact."
Most experts agree that to reduce the risk of heart disease, replacing
saturated fats with healthier unsaturated fats is preferred. There is
further agreement that more research is needed in the area of fatty
acids and its relationship to health.
Sorting Out Fat Confusion
There are two basic categories of fats. Healthy fats are unsaturated
and include vegetable oils, fish oils, and plant fats in nuts, avocados,
and seeds. These fats should be the primary fats in your diet because

they are either neutral or raise HDL cholesterol but don't raise LDL
The less healthy saturated fats found in animal fats and tropical oils,
including coconut oil, are allowed, but in lesser amounts because they
raise LDL cholesterol.
Trans fats in processed foods are the worst fats, capable of lowering
HDL and increasing LDL, and should be kept as low as possible.
Food Is More Important Than Nutrients
Eating a nutritious diet that includes mostly whole foods and is
balanced in calories is more important that worrying about specific
nutrients and foods, Diekman says.
For instance, asparagus cooked in coconut oil is a better choice than
partially hydrogenated coconut oil in baked goods but not necessarily
better than asparagus cooked in olive oil.
What is most important is your overall dietary pattern. "We can't say
coconut oil is healthy or not healthy, it depends on the rest of the
diet," Mozaffarian says.
We eat foods, not nutrients, and if consumers paid more attention to
choosing healthier foods, reading nutrition labels, and following the
advice of the Dietary Guidelines, the issue of fats would be resolved.
Using Coconut Oil in Foods and Cooking
Coconut oil is being used in processed foods because it is relatively
inexpensive and can provide crisp texture to foods, Clemens says.
Coconut oil also has a high smoke point that makes it resistant to
oxidation and shelf stable. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated
coconut oil is found in cereals, baked goods, biscuits, salty snacks,
soaps, cosmetics, and moisturizers.
Coconut oil is gaining favor with vegans, who prefer getting their
saturated fat from plant foods. Chefs are discovering the unique
properties of coconut oil in food because it has a high smoke point and
hardening ability.
Enjoy coconut oil if it is your preference but do so in moderation until
further research indicates it is better than other saturated fats.