Looking at a coconut, you probably wouldn't think oil could come from it. However, coconut oil has become a favorite among cooks as well as practitioners of alternative therapies.
A Little About Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is produced by pressing the meat or shells of coconuts (Cocos nucifera). The resulting oil is solid at room temperature with an opaque white color and becomes a clear liquid when warm. This completely edible oil also stays fresh for up to two years. When shopping for coconut oil, it's best to look for an oil that is extra virgin and pure, with as little processing as possible.
First and foremost, coconut oil can be used for cooking (more on that later). It's also gained popularity as a topical remedy for moisturizing the skin and reducing irritation. Lastly, coconut oil can be used to treat dry, damaged hair and restore it to health. There are hundreds more uses for coconut oil out there, but weight loss has garnered the most attention recently.
Coconut Oil for Weight Control
Coconut oil wasn't always the darling of the health industry. High in saturated fats, many health experts warned against consumption of coconut oil. While it still shouldn't be consumed in high amounts on a daily basis because of its fat content, coconut oil has been found to have some beneficial effects because the majority of the saturated fats within coconut oil are lauric acid, a type of medium-chain fatty acid that isn't a threatening to heart health.
First of all, the type of fat within coconut oil is processed by the liver instead of being stored as fat throughout the body and resulting in weight gain. Second, coconut oil boosts internal thermogenesis, or your metabolism. Your metabolism is responsible for burning fat as energy, which causes weight loss and allows you to maintain your weight. Finally, coconut oil can help you feel full longer, which allows you to eat less between meals and during meals, promoting additional weight loss.
Not to mention, this oil is free of cholesterol and hydrogenated trans fats, which are not only detrimental to your waistline but also your heart. However, as previously stated, you shouldn't consume large amounts of coconut oil daily -- the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 16 g of saturated fats a day.
Larger studies are still needed to determine the exact action of coconut oil within the body in relation to weight loss and management.
How to Use It
Coconut oil has a mild flavor that can compliment your meals. Here are some suggestions for incorporating it into your diet for weight management:
Cook your morning eggs in coconut oil instead of butter.
Stir-fry vegetables and protein in coconut oil.
Spread coconut oil on toast.
Add 1/2 to 1 tbsp to your morning smoothie or protein shake.
Add to water and drink before meals to fill yourself up (up to 2 tbsp total daily).
If you aren't a fan of eating coconut oil, you can find it in softgel form for easier use.
If you plan to consume coconut oil or coconut oil supplements on a daily basis, be sure to speak with your doctor first if you have a medical condition. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also shouldn't take supplements for weight loss.
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