Coconut oil is well-known for its health benefits – hailed as a superfood, many people swear by its ability to reduce the waistline of people who take it regularly. But does it really work?
Recent studies on the efficacy and safety of coconut oil as a weight loss supplement seem to indicate that it does in fact lead to waistline reductions and lower levels of fat in the body. Rich in medium chain triglycerides (or MCTs), coconut oil is associated with weight loss due to the length of the fatty acid chains that it contains.
The fatty acid chains in coconut oil differ from longer, more common fatty acid chains found in other plant-based oils, like canola oil and vegetable oil. While the longer-chain fatty acids are stored as body fat, MCTs found in coconut oil are more easily used by the body for energy and are therefore less likely to be stored in the body.
This means that a diet high in MCT-containing oils like coconut oil, as opposed to long-chain fatty acids like canola oil, results in the body burning off more fat for fuel rather than storing it – leading to lower cholesterol levels, a slimmer figure, and better overall health.
“Consumption of MCT oil as part of a weight-loss plan improves weight loss compared with olive oil and can thus be successfully included in a weight-loss diet,” researchers in one study concluded, adding, “Small changes in the quality of fat intake can therefore be useful to enhance weight loss.”
Another study reported on the safety of coconut oil as a weight-loss supplement, concluding that it is safer than most supplements on the market today.
A third study concluded that “MCT oil can be incorporated into a weight loss program without fear of adversely affecting metabolic risk factors.”
Coconut oil is not only effective in helping people reduce their waistlines, but it is also a low-risk dietary supplement, with few to no negative side effects noted in the studies. In fact, a study on pre-menopausal women in the Phillipines associated coconut oil supplements with lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
While conventional wisdom encourages people who are trying to lose weight to reduce their intake of saturated fats like coconut oil, the actual evidence strongly suggests that when taken in moderation as part of a balanced weight loss diet, coconut oil plays a significant role in reducing overall body fat and fighting obesity.
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