A fat used in baking and sautéing, coconut oil may harbor some exciting protective effects for the liver.
Coconut Oil and the Liver
Various claims have been made for the benefits of pure, virgin, coconut oil; but liver health is a relatively new contender. Experts believe the presence of medium-chain fatty acids helps prevent liver disease because they are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver. This benefits the liver in two ways:
- The conversion of fatty acids into energy reduces the liver’s workload.
- By transforming into energy instead of entering the bloodstream, fat accumulation in the liver is prevented.
In addition, coconut oil has been documented to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Some scholars suspect that coconut oil’s antimicrobial abilities helps destroy microbes and minimizes free radical formation in the liver. The deficiency of reproducible, double blind, human studies on virgin coconut oil’s benefits to the liver prevents it from being a mainstream recommendation. Nonetheless, the evidence is slowly building:
- According to an animal study published in a May 2014 edition of the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, the active components of coconut oil had protective effects against toxicity in the liver.
- In another animal study published in a 2011 edition of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that virgin coconut oil protected the liver from damage typically caused by paracetamol (a known liver toxin).
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