In recent years, coconut oil has gained attention as the miracle worker of health and disease. People swear by its benefits for nutrition, beauty, and everything in between. But what if you have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland? You might be wondering how coconut oil fits into your needs.
As a disorder that affects 4.6 percent of American adults, hypothyroidism is quite common.1 It’s defined by a thyroid gland that doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, something every cell needs.2 And while most cases are mild, the side effects can be frustrating.
On the surface, coconut oil can help with symptoms like dry hair and skin.3 Consumption, however, can actually protect a slow thyroid.
How Coconut Oil Improves Thyroid Function
Inflammation, poor diet, and weight gain can all worsen hypothyroidism. But with coconut oil, you can combat all three factors.
1. Provides Healthy Fats
Instead, aim for a well-rounded diet of all three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat, and protein. When you do eat fat, reach for good kinds like coconut oil. It’ll provide healthy medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s) in place of the bad fats in the Western diet.6
2. Eases Inflammation
Inflammation is the root of almost every disease. And if it affects the thyroid gland, thyroid cells take a hit and stop functioning. In turn, the thyroid can’t produce enough thyroid hormone to support the body.7 That’s why it’s so important to eat anti-inflammatory foods!
Coconut oil fits the bill. MCFA has anti-inflammatory properties, so it doesn’t cause inflammation in the body. For any kind of chronic disorder, this is great news.8
3. Supports Weight Loss
An underactive thyroid is known for causing weight gain. And when it’s topped off with poor eating habits and lack of exercise, the disorder will only get worse. Thankfully, with coconut oil, you can increase the chances of weight loss.
The body uses MCFA’s for energy. They’re not degraded and stored like most fats, so weight gain won’t be as likely.9 And according to a 2002 study in The Journal of Nutrition, MCFA’s might even control appetite by increasing satiety.10
How To Take Coconut Oil
While coconut oil won’t cure your thyroid, it can certainly offer protection and support. Here’s how to include more coconut oil in your diet.
1. Coffee Or Tea
Skip the sugary creamer and use coconut oil instead. In coffee or tea, it’ll create a thick and creamy consistency. This is a tasty choice if you don’t eat dairy, too.
Add some coconut oil to your smoothie. The light, tropical flavor pairs well with pineapple, blueberries, or strawberries. You can also use it in turmeric smoothies for an anti-inflammatory drink.
For a luscious bowl of oatmeal, add a bit of coconut oil. Use it in the same way as butter. On pancakes or waffles, coconut oil can be used in the same way.
Do you love to bake healthy treats? Instead of butter, use coconut oil at a 1:1 ratio. You can also add a small amount to more forgiving recipes like no-bake oatmeal cookies.
Coconut oil has a high smoke point, so it’s ideal for pan-cooked dishes. Stir-fry, omelets, and sautéed vegetables are perfect examples. Use in place of fatty vegetable oils.
As with all healthy food, coconut oil should be consumed in moderation. Don’t eat a whole jar in a day! However, when part of a healthy diet, it can help your thyroid thrive.
|↑1||Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑2||Nussey, Stephen, and Saffron A. Whitehead. “Chapter 3: The thyroid gland.” Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach. Oxford, UK: Bios (2001).|
|↑3||Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑4||DAVIDSON, MAYER B., and INDER J. CHOPRA. “Effect of carbohydrate and noncarbohydrate sources of calories on plasma 3, 5, 3′-triiodothyronine concentrations in man.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 48, no. 4 (1979): 577-581.|
|↑5||Bisschop, P. H., H. P. Sauerwein, E. Endert, and J. A. Romijn. “Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3‐syndrome in healthy men.” Clinical endocrinology 54, no. 1 (2001): 75-80.|
|↑6, ↑10||St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, and Peter JH Jones. “Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity.” The Journal of nutrition 132, no. 3 (2002): 329-332.|
|↑7||Thyroiditis. Columbia University Department of Surgery.|
|↑8||McCarty, Mark F., and James J. DiNicolantonio. “Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity.” Open heart 3, no. 2 (2016): e000467.|
|↑9||Amarasiri, W. A. L. D., and A. S. Dissanayake. “Coconut fats.” (2006).|