In the last five years, coconut oil has gotten a health makeover. It’s gone from an alleged trans-fat devil to a must-have of the natural world. Thomas Brenna, a professor of nutritional science at Cornell University, once said that the oil could trace its bad reputation to one major factor. “Most of the studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which researchers used because they needed to raise the cholesterol levels of their rabbits in order to collect certain data,” he noted in a 2011 New York Time article. “Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is a different thing in terms of a health risk perspective. And maybe it isn’t so bad for you after all.”
Not only has it gained popularity for its medium chain fatty acids, which promote weight loss, it’s also gained momentum in the vegan foods aisle. But that’s not it. In recent years, coconut oil’s health benefits have been thought to possibly even boost fertility.
Here are some ways it has shown to be beneficial for women who are trying to get pregnant:
- Maintaining good body fat. First off, the fat composition of coconut oil is so filling that it can help you lower your overall caloric intake. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also showed that those who consumed medium chain triglycerides, which coconut oil has, lost more belly fat than those who consumed olive oil. That’s important because adipose tissue, which is located in the belly region, could have a negative impact on fertility.
- Boosting your thyroid. Thyroid disorders are common and treatable causes of infertility. More specifically, hypothyroidism has been linked with menstrual problems and lack of ovulation. Maintaining good fat happens to also be a good thing for your thyroid. Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats, and its particular fat balance is actually nourishing to the thyroid. Our bodies process it differently than other vegetable oils and helps the thyroid to stay active. What’s more, coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can help prevent some of the issues that are sometimes at the root of thyroid disorders. Finally, our diet often contains known goitrogens (like peanut butter and soybeans) that can block iodine and interfere with our thyroid health.
- Regulating insulin secretion. Secreted by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels. The higher the blood glucose, the more insulin your body secrete into the blood; and an excess in insulin can then cause testosterone levels to rise to the point of suppressing ovulation and impairing fertility. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil boost metabolism, help slow down the digestive process, and break the glucose down more slowly to keep the stream of energy and blood sugar levels steady, even after you eat. A slower digestion can also help you feel fuller longer, which can help you consume less carbohydrates throughout the day. This is particularly helpful to women who have PCOS.
- Balancing vaginal pH. Your vaginal pH can get unbalanced by a lot of things, including your menstrual cycles, antibiotics and diet. If your pH is too acidic, the vaginal environment may become hostile, and the sperm may not live long enough to seek the egg. A vaginal pH that is too alkaline can lead to yeast infections, which can then cause itching, burning, and uncomfortable sex. Adding coconut oil to your diet can help maintain a pH that promotes vaginal health, which is essential for fertility. You can also use it as a lubricant. Since it has a low melting point, you just need to rub it with your hands and then apply. Make sure coconut oil suits your skin so test it on other areas first, and be sure to buy the most authentic version of coconut oil (ONLY coconut oil!) so that other ingredients won’t cause irritation.
Because coconut oil is high in fat, it should be used in moderation. A teaspoon contains roughly 120 calories, and it goes a long way! You could sautee veggies, eggs, and protein with coconut oil or use it for baking goods. While results are not guaranteed, coconut oil is certainly appearing to be more beneficial to your health, which can then help boost fertility.