They’re one of the world’s favourite fruits due to their sweet taste and water, but coconuts are special for other reasons too. Eating coconut oil before bed could actually help you sleep, protect you from disease and boost your immune system. We explain how, next.
Eating coconut oil before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Coconuts have been eaten for thousands of years, with this tropical fruit providing both flesh to eat and water to drink. However, it’s only in recent years that we’ve discovered that coconuts could be a natural sleep aid.
In particular, coconut oil could boast our ability for a natural sleep. That’s because coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid. Having this nutrient (also known as dodecanoic acid) present in our bodies appears to promote a normal sleep as studies have shown that reduced intake in lauric acid has been “associated with both difficulties falling asleep and maintaining sleep”.
Indeed around 50% of virgin coconut oil contains this crucial sleep boosting nutrient, so eating coconut oil before bed could help combat sleep problems and insomnia. However as we show later, there are detrimental aspects to consuming coconut oil that you need to be aware of too.
Eating coconut oil before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of lauric acid, which appears to have a positive effect on sleep.
Eating coconut oil before bed: The other health benefits
Eating a teaspoon of coconut oil at night has other benefits too. That’s because this remarkable oil is also anti-inflammatory, and has antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
The anti-inflammatory nature of coconut oil has been studied before, and is important to note as many major diseases like arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like virgin coconut oil or walnuts – is a no-brainer.
Coconut oil is also a great source of antioxidants. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like coconut oil or grapes – should be a priority.
These claims have been backed up too. One study concluded that coconut oil suppressed markers of inflammation and had protective properties for skin, another saw promise in combining Vitamin D3 and coconut oil to help with knee osteoarthritis. Furthermore, another saw cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s patients when they consumed coconut oil – although the coconut oil was included as part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been recorded to have brain boosting capacities in its own right.
However a note of caution, coconut oil is high in fat and does have significantly high LDL-cholesterol content. As a study by Circulation has pointed out, this could have a detrimental effect on heart health and cardiovascular disease risk.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown coconut oil to have a positive effect on some aspects of health. However, it’s also high in LDL-cholesterol, so shouldn’t be over-used.
Eating coconut oil at night: Incorporating it into your diet
Considering coconut oil is high in fat and LDL-cholesterol it’s best not to eat it every day. Although, as it also has a selection of health benefits, consuming coconut oil as part of a varied diet should be beneficial.
Cooking your evening meal in coconut oil could be one way to incorporate lauric acid into your nighttime routine. However with a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon, it’s best to use coconut oil sparingly.
Eating coconut oil at night: What about side effects?
As mentioned before, coconut oil is high in fat and LDL-cholesterol which could have a detrimental effect on heart health and cardiovascular disease risk if eaten in excess.
If you don’t have a coconut oil allergy then moderate consumption of coconut oil shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating coconut oil in excess could lead to side effects like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and unwanted weight gain.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.