Coconut oil offers neuroprotective properties, which researchers found delayed the incidence of stroke, reduced stroke-induced brain damage and increased survival afterward.
Virgin coconut oil, a saturated medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA), has impressive neuroprotective effects that appear to be protective before and after a stroke occurs.[i] Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S. It’s a leading cause of long-term disability in people aged 65 and older, with more than half of stroke survivors suffering from reduced mobility as a result.[ii]
So natural options like coconut oil could potentially have significant effects on public health. In an animal study, published in the journal Life, coconut oil not only delayed the incidence of stroke and increased survival, but also showed promise for delaying the onset of high blood pressure. It even offered additional protective effects on the liver, kidney and spleen.[iii]
Coconut Oil Is Beneficial Before and After a Stroke
In a study of stroke-prone rats, feeding coconut oil had protective effects on the brain, with researchers suggesting the benefits occurred “before and even after stroke incidence.”[iv] Along with delaying stroke from occurring, the coconut oil group had less structural damage to the brain after a stroke occurred.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is a fatty acid with antioxidant properties. It also has a high concentration of polyphenols that also boost antioxidant levels. This, in turn, can lower lipid peroxidation and inflammation. “The restoration of the antioxidant levels may be one of the mechanisms that can prevent further neuronal damage and avoid the subsequent depletion of monoamines [neurotransmitters], including dopamine,” the researchers explained.[v]
As for why coconut oil delayed the occurrence of stroke and increased the animals’ survival, in addition to antioxidant properties, coconut oil has been found to improve mitochondrial function, decrease inflammation and increase the expression of beneficial neurotrophins in the brain, including brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Further, the number of hypoxic neurons — or neurons with too little oxygen — was lower in the virgin coconut oil (VCO) group, suggesting “there are neuroprotective effects that VCO may have conferred.”[vi]
Coconut Oil May Benefit 88 Diseases
Coconut oil shows promise for health conditions beyond stroke as well. In fact, this healthy fat has been found to exert beneficial effects on 88 diseases, from Alzheimer’s disease and obesity to eczema and diabetes. You can read nearly 100 studies supporting coconut oil’s profound health effects in our coconut oil research database.
Brain health is key among them. Decreased brain glucose consumption is an early hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, which appears long before symptoms occur. It’s been suggested that ketone bodies — compounds produced from fat stores when glucose availability is low — produced by metabolism of MCFAs in coconut oil could serve as an alternative energy source, thereby compensating for the brain’s lack of glucose consumption.[vii]
In another example, researchers gave older adults with memory disorders a daily oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are composed of MCFAs. This led to significant increases in levels of a ketone body, which in turn was associated with greater improvement on cognitive tests, including paragraph recall.[viii]
This occurred after a single dose of MCTs. Beyond the brain, coconut oil is receiving increasing attention due to its many therapeutic properties, which include:[ix]
Regarding heart health, consuming coconut oil was found to increase beneficial HDL cholesterol and insulin sensitivity compared to consuming peanut oil, while inflammatory markers associated with cardiovascular disease were significantly reduced.[x]
Due to tis anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, coconut oil may also be useful for protecting against adverse respiratory effects caused by exposure to particulate matter pollution in the air.[xi] It’s protective of skin health, as well, suppressing inflammatory markers and enhancing skin barrier function when used topically.[xii]
Among obese men, supplementing with coconut oil for four weeks even led to a significant reduction in waist circumference. For even more reasons to use coconut oil, be sure to read 14 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Coconut Oil.
More Natural Options for Stroke Prevention and Rehabilitation
Coconut oil is just one natural compound useful for stroke. Our stroke research database contains 162 substances with usefulness against this debilitating health condition. Like coconut oil, for instance, curcumin — an active ingredient in the spice turmeric — has neuroprotective effects.[xiii] It also delayed the onset of stroke and increased survival of stroke-prone rats with high blood pressure, likely by attenuating oxidative stress.[xiv]
Ginsenosides, the active compounds in ginseng, are another example of natural compounds with neuroprotective effects that may be useful for stroke.[xv] In terms of stroke recovery, our database has 54 substances that may help, including cannabinoids, magnesium, curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and others.
EGCG from green tea, for instance, is neuroprotective against stroke while also promoting neurogenesis,[xvi] or the formation of new neurons, to help with stroke recovery. Even consuming adequate amounts of potassium and magnesium following stroke may be helpful for improving recovery.[xvii]
We’ve only scratched the surface on the health-protective compounds found in nature. Whether you’re interested in stroke prevention, stroke recovery or a different health condition entirely, you can search 10,000+ health topics — and find evidence-based research on natural compounds that may help — at GreenMedInfo.com.
[vii] Mech Ageing Dev. 2020 Jan 14:111209. Epub 2020 Jan 14. PMID: 31953123 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/potential-coconut-oil-and-medium-chain-triglycerides-prevention-and-treatment-
[x] Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec 29. Epub 2018 Dec 29. PMID: 30630708 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/coconut-oil-consumption-improves-fat-free-mass-plasma-hdl-cholesterol-and-insu
[xi] Molecules. 2022 May 2 ;27(9). Epub 2022 May 2. PMID: 35566249 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/coconut-oil-may-protect-against-adverse-respiratory-effects-caused-particulate
[xii] J Tradit Complement Med. 2019 Jan ;9(1):5-14. Epub 2018 Jan 17. PMID: 30671361 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/vitro-anti-inflammatory-and-skin-protective-properties-virgin-coconut-oil
[xiii] IUBMB Life. 2019 Dec 5. Epub 2019 Dec 5. PMID: 31804772 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/neuroprotective-effects-curcumin-through-autophagy-modulation
[xiv] BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2018 Mar 1 ;18(1):43. Epub 2018 Mar 1. PMID: 29490624 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/curcumin-exerts-stroke-preventive-effect-attenuating-oxidative-stress-improve-
[xv] Front Pharmacol. 2020 ;11:285. Epub 2020 Mar 31. PMID: 32296332 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/available-findings-demonstrated-preclinical-evidence-ginsenoside-rb1-has-poten
[xvi] Mol Neurobiol. 2016 May 20. Epub 2016 May 20. PMID: 27206430 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/egcg-could-have-beneficial-effects-neurogenesis-and-stroke-recovery
[xvii] Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Sep 6. Epub 2017 Sep 6. PMID: 28877896 www.greenmedinfo.com/article/intake-potassium-and-magnesium-enriched-salt-improves-functional-outcome-after
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