Top 5 health benefits of coconut oil

1. Contains medium-chain fatty acids

Coconut oil is different from other dietary oils, because it is mainly composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), whereas most other oils are almost entirely long-chain fatty acids. This means that the fatty acids in coconut oil are made up of a chain of six to 12 carbon atoms, as opposed to the more than 12 found in long-chain fatty acids. This difference in structure has all sorts of implications, from how the oil is digested to how it influences your body.

2. Has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties

About 50% of the MCFAs in coconut oil are a type called lauric acid, which contributes to the oil’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.

3. May be helpful in the treatment of skin conditions

Limited but consistent evidence appears to support the topical use of coconut oil for the prevention and treatment of mild to moderate cases of chronic skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. It has also been shown to alleviate some complex skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis.

4. May protect hair from damage

The lauric acid in coconut oil appears to have a high affinity for hair protein and, because of the way the oil is structured, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft. This means coconut oil and products made from it may be useful in preventing the hair damage caused by protein loss due to grooming and ultraviolet (UV) exposure. However, more studies are needed to confirm this effect.

5. May be helpful in the prevention of dental caries

Oil pulling is a traditional ayurvedic remedy originally practiced in ancient India for the maintenance of oral health. More recent studies suggest the practice of using coconut oil may be beneficial for the prevention of dental caries by reducing plaque formation and gingivitis. However, limitations in sample sizes and duration means a larger number of well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the true value of coconut oil for this purpose.

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