Eat Coconut Oil to Reduce AnxietyJan 18, 2021
Coconut oil is anxiolytic. Virgin coconut oil, which may be produced from fresh coconut meat, coconut milk, or coconut milk residue, is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), polyphenols, and lauric acid. Because of its nutritional chemistry, coconut oil is known to help protect us from the effects of stress on our bodies and reduce depression and anxiety.
Coconut oil is a functional food. I like this definition from the Mayo Clinic: “Functional foods are foods that have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”1 There was a study of rodents put under stress that were treated with virgin coconut oil. These subjects were found to exhibit higher levels of brain antioxidants, lower levels of brain 5-HT, and reduced weight of the adrenal glands compared to the control group. Serum cholesterol, triglyceride, glucose, and corticosterone levels were also lower. These researchers concluded: “The measure suggests that virgin coconut oil has value as an anti-stress functional oil.”2
Due to the inflammatory nature of multiple sclerosis (MS), the disease increases anxiety levels for people who have it. A study was done to ascertain if coconut oil and green tea put together could help lessen the anxiety within this population. Green tea is laden with the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been studied intensively. This particular study was conducted for four months with 51 MS patients who received 800 milligrams of EGCG and 60 milliliters of coconut oil per day. Their state anxiety (how you feel in any moment) and trait anxiety (how you feel generally) were assessed before and after the study. The conclusion was that coconut oil and EGCG were effective together.3
Please don’t be afraid of the fats in coconut oil. It’s full of good fats that we need to be healthy. Also, if you look at members of societies that live off coconut, they are not overweight. Good fats from coconut oil will not make you overweight. Hopefully, you understand by now (or are at least beginning to grasp) that it is processed foods, like refined sugar and carbs, that make us overweight and unhealthy.
Coconut oil combined with exercise was shown in another study to ameliorate the effects of stress on anxiety. Researchers concluded that coconut oil can be beneficial during the critical period of brain development.4 So many children and young people today feel anxious about what’s happening in our world—everything from the pandemic to social media bullying and worrying about whether they’ll be able to find work after school. What is this doing to their brains? I wonder. If coconut oil can help, then it may be worth adding to the diet.
Ways of Incorporating Coconut Oil in Your Anxiety-Free Kitchen:
- Use coconut oil for cooking. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it’s great for frying and baking.
- Use coconut oil as a base for salad dressing. Try a liquid coconut oil, like an MCT oil, that doesn’t need to be melted.
- If you don’t like the smell or taste of coconut oil, I understand. A lot of people don’t! If this is the case, you can opt for a “refined” coconut oil, which means it’s gone through an extra process to remove the smell and taste of coconut. It’s still healthy. I use this kind of coconut oil in my dessert recipes to make cookies, cakes, cashew ice cream, and cashew cheesecake because I want the coconut oil health benefits and consistency, but don’t want the smell or flavor.
- Use the butter-flavored coconut oil as a replacement for dairy butter. (I recommend Nutiva brand.) It smells and tastes like butter, making it a great butter alternative, however it’s made from coconut oil, so it’s healthier!
Anxiety-Free Recipes in my new book with Coconut Oil:
- Genius Smoothie
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Mini Cashew Cheesecakes
- Ice Cream Bites with Chocolate Sauce
1. K. Zeratsky, “I’ve heard the term ‘functional foods,’ but I don’t know what it means. Can you explain?” Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle blog (accessed May 10, 2020), https://www.mayoclinic.org/
2. S.K. Yeap, “Antistress and Antioxidant Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil in Vivo,” Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1 (January 2015), doi: 10.3892/etm.2014.2045.
3. J.L. Platero, et al., “The Impact of Coconut Oil and Epigallocatechin Gallate on the Levels of IL-6, Anxiety and Disability in Multiple Sclerosis Patients,” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 2 (January 23, 2020), p. 305, doi: 10.3390/nu12020305.
4. D.C. da Silva, et al., “Can Coconut Oil and Treadmill Exercise During the Critical Period of Brain Development Ameliorate Stress-Related Effects on Anxiety-Like Behavior and Episodic-Like Memory in Young Rats?” Food & Function, vol. 9, no. 3 (March 1, 2018), pp. 1492–9, doi: 10.1039/c7fo01516j.
You can find more information about this in Anxiety-Free with Food, available in book stores around the world.