From beauty experts to dieters and nutritionists, many are praising coconut oil for its health benefits. This superfood is promoted as a natural fat burner, antimicrobial agent, skin moisturizer and metabolism booster. A growing number of moms-to-be are using coconut oil for fertility, but is it really that healthy?
Coconut oil is safe during pregnancy when used as part of a balanced diet. Enjoy it in small amounts to reap its benefits.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
More than 72 percent of customers believe that coconut oil is a healthy addition to their daily meals. If you're pregnant or trying to conceive, though, you may have doubts about it. After all, this food is high in fat and calories.
As you probably know, not all fats are created equal. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) that your body can use for fuel. These healthy fats provide steady energy and improve nutrient absorption, according to a 2016 review published in Ghana Medical Journal. They may also raise good cholesterol levels and boost cardiovascular health.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, coconut oil may help protect against bacteria, viruses and yeast. A 2015 study featured in the journal Sphere found that coconut oil consumption may reduce Candida albicans infections and cause positive changes in the gut flora. This superfood has been also shown to improve metabolic health, immune function and glycemic control.
Coconut Oil in Pregnancy
According to a 2018 research paper published in the journal IntechOpen, coconut oil may help prevent congenital defects and make labor easier. Due to its high fat content, it provides your body with the energy needed for carrying a baby and breastfeeding. The downside is that it may affect infant growth and appearance. There are no studies on the benefits of eating coconut oil for fertility.
In animal studies, coconut oil has been shown to affect infant growth and appearance. Human studies indicate that it can make labor easier and prevent congenital malformations.
In 2017, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine published the findings of a study conducted on mice. Those fed with virgin coconut oil before, during and after gestation had pups with spiky fur and significantly lower body weight compared to those born from mothers on a standard diet. Researchers believe that lauric acid and other fats in coconut oil affect the hormones that regulate appetite, which in turn, may influence body weight. These findings indicate that coconut oil should be used with caution during pregnancy.
Does It Prevent Stretch Marks?
As WebMD notes, consuming 10 milliliters of coconut oil up to three times daily for 12 weeks is unlikely to cause any harm. Clinical evidence on its safety during pregnancy is limited, though. However, this product can be safely applied to the skin. In fact, many women claim that it's the best lotion to prevent stretch marks and keep your skin supple.
According to the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, coconut oil exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and may help in treating atopic dermatitis. Rich in phenolic compounds, it reduces free radical levels and protects your skin from oxidative damage. This natural oil also strengthens the skin barrier and wards off harmful bacteria.
Massage your skin with coconut oil regularly to keep it hydrated.
Without a doubt, coconut oil is good for your skin; however, this doesn't mean that it can erase stretch marks or banish cellulite. Unfortunately, stretch marks are permanent. Olive oil, almond oil and other home remedies have little or no effect, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The best thing you can do is to prevent stretch marks in the first place.
Apply coconut oil topically to keep your skin hydrated, ward off infections and reduce swelling. Proper hydration helps maintain skin elasticity throughout pregnancy and beyond, which in turn, may help prevent stretch marks.
- New York Times: Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionists Disagree
- NCBI: Ghana Medical Journal: Coconut Oil and Palm Oil's Role in Nutrition, Health and National Development: A Review
- BMJ Journals: Randomised Trial of Coconut Oil, Olive Oil or Butter on Blood Lipids and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Men and Women
- Taylor & Francis Online: Postgraduate Medicine: Virgin Coconut Oil and Its Potential Cardioprotective Effects
- ASM Journals: Sphere: Manipulation of Host Diet to Reduce Gastrointestinal Colonization by the Opportunistic Pathogen Candida albicans
- PLOS ONE: Effects of Coconut Oil on Glycemia, Inflammation, and Urogenital Microbial Parameters in Female Ossabaw Mini-Pigs
- IntechOpen: Herbal Medicine Use during Pregnancy: Benefits and Untoward Effects
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Maternal Intake of Dietary Virgin Coconut Oil Modifies Essential Fatty Acids and Causes Low Body Weight and Spiky Fur in Mice
- WebMD: Coconut Oil
- Wiley Online Library: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: Topical Management of Striae Distensae (Stretch Marks): Prevention and Therapy of Striae Rubrae and Albae
- Wiley Online Library: International Journal of Dermatology: The Effect of Topical Virgin Coconut Oil on Scorad Index, Transepidermal Water Loss, and Skin Capacitance in Mild to Moderate Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis
- American Academy of Dermatology: Stretch Marks: Why They Appear and How to Get Rid of Them
- Chris Kresser: Coconut Oil Is Still Healthy, Despite AHA Claims
- Pain Pathways Magazine: Can Coconut Oil Reduce Pain?