Coconut oil is enjoying some time in the spotlight as a superfood with multiple health benefits.

Some even claim it can help folks lose weight through ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy. But what does the research really say?

Coconut oil and weight loss

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Quick science lesson:

Some fats are made of LCTs (long-chain triglycerides), while others consist of MCTs. Unlike LCTs, MCTs don’t require enzymes or bile acids for digestion and absorption. That means MCTs are sent straight to the kidney to be converted to ketones—energy. (Hence the name “keto” for the high-fat and -protein diet.)

Some claim that since coconut oil is made of MCTs, it discourages fat storage and promotes weight loss. This is only partially true. The good news: One study found that consuming 15-30 grams of MCTs per day increased calorie expenditure by 5%. The bad news: though commercial coconut oil has about 50% MCTs, most are lauric acid, which doesn’t behave like the other MCTs. So the MCT benefits of coconut oil are marginal.

Coconut oil calories add up fast

At 117 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, coconut oil isn’t something you want to add liberally to food.

The American Heart Association recommends adults get no more than 10% of their daily calories from saturated fat, which is about 160-220 calories for most people. Using coconut oil as a substitute for unhealthy fats (like trans fats) is a good idea, since virgin coconut oil has antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin E.

So what is coconut oil good for?

As you can see, the research is mixed when it comes to coconut oil and burning fat. But there are other things that coconut oil is great for.

It’s a good addition to your skin-care routine. Remember the lauric acid that didn’t do much for our weight loss? Researchers at the University of California San Diego found that the lauric acid in coconut oil has more antimicrobial power than benzoyl peroxide against acne.

Another study found that applying virgin coconut oil topically for 8 weeks improved patients’ symptoms of atopic dermatitis (skin problems like eczema) by an average of nearly 70%.

Luxurious locks: Researchers found that when coconut oil is applied before or after washing hair, its lauric acid helps protect hair from damage. And you’ll smell good!

The takeaway

Unfortunately, based on the current research coconut oil isn’t really going to help with weight loss. But If used in place of unhealthier fats such as trans fats and those in margarine and fried foods, it may promote better overall health. And that’s a great thing.

Let’s get healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

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