Kim is an RN and author of the book "360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness."
Coconut Oil in Coffee
Aah! The aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. How many of us awaken thinking of our first delicious cup and awaiting that glorious caffeinated energy boost? Besides caffeine, coffee also provides us with numerous health benefits, most of which are attributed to its abundance of antioxidants.
Adding coconut oil to that coffee just enriches its health benefits even more and, not to mention, gives it a fuller flavor. Coconut oil is often described as the "Breastmilk of Mother Nature" due to its deeply nourishing qualities. And like breastmilk, it is filled with lauric acid. Lauric acid, because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, helps the immune system.
Thus, drinking coffee with coconut oil provides a robust enhancement to one's health. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of this powerhouse duo.
1) Provides Energy
As you well know, due to its stimulating properties, caffeine gives a quick energy boost. Caffeine increases the release of catecholamines (such as adrenaline) which can make your heart beat faster, send more blood to your muscles and tell your liver to release sugar into the bloodstream for energy. It also creates mental stimulation by blocking inhibitory neurotransmitters like adenosine. When they are blocked, other neurotransmitters like epinephrine fire, creating excitatory symptoms in the brain. And there you have that alertness coffee drinkers seek.
Coconut oil also provides energy in a different fashion. Coconut oil bypasses regular fat metabolism because it is made of MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids). These MCFAs are much easier to digest and are processed directly through the liver, unlike long-chain fatty acids like most vegetable oils and other saturated fats. MCFAs can be used quickly as fuel instead of being stored as fat. Coconut oil also provides ketones. Ketones are the result of burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. They serve as an alternative energy source. So, the brain can immediately use the ketones from coconut oil, which adds to mental alertness.
2) Encourages Elimination
Because of its excitatory effects on the nervous system, caffeine can often elicit "movement" in the digestive tract. It also promotes the release of gastrin in the stomach which increases motor activity in the colon.
The fats in coconut oil act as a natural lubricant in the digestive tract. They help to soften stool as well. Eating 1-2 tablespoons per day can help one stay regular. But be careful... more than that may cause diarrhea in sensitive individuals.
3) Regulates Blood Sugar
Coffee drinkers tend to have a reduced risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. According to a massive review that looked at data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individuals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Another Women's Health study found that those who consumed 6 or more cups of caffeinated OR decaffeinated coffee had a 22% lowered risk of diabetes.
Coconut oil does not require insulin for digestion. So when one consumes coconut oil, there is no spike in blood sugar or in resulting insulin. Studies have also indicated that coconut oil may reduce blood glucose levels. And one study that induced Type 2 diabetes in lab rats found that the lauric acid in coconut oil may protect against diabetes-induced dyslipidemia.
4) Improves Brain Function
Coffee might just make you feel happier. It has been shown to decrease or prevent the occurrence of depression. A 2011 Harvard study found that women who consumed 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 20% less likely to experience depression. Another ten-year study of more than 86,000 nurses found a decreased risk of suicide in those who consumed coffee. On top of that, studies show that coffee improves overall alertness and cognitive function.
Coconut oil also appears to improve brain function. Alzheimer's disease is sometimes referred to as "Type 3 Diabetes." This is because the brains of Alzheimer's patients seem to be resistant to insulin, and thus, starved for glucose. The ketones in coconut oil, as stated earlier, do not require insulin for absorption. So, ketones offer a different fuel for the brain. Studies are currently being conducted on the treatment of Alzheimer's with coconut oil. See my article "Can Alzheimer's Disease Be Treated with MCT or Coconut Oils?" for a powerful anecdotal story of Dr. Mary Newport, who helped improve and temporarily reverse the progression of Alzheimer's disease in her husband.
5) Lowers Risk of Neurological Disorders
Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of developing both Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). According to JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), in a 30-year study of over 8,000 men, coffee drinkers were much less likely to develop Parkinson's disease. Also, according to the results from two independent studies, the risk of MS was substantially reduced among those who reported a high consumption of coffee.
Coconut oil may also have protective properties against progressive neurological disorders. Although not yet clinically studied, anecdotal stories exist in which symptoms of Parkinson's were reduced or eliminated with the use of coconut oil. One such story involves a 74-year-old man suffering from Parkinson's who began implementing a coconut oil regimen of 4 tablespoons a day. After 3 months, he reported a dramatic improvement in agility, movement, and facial expression. One article in Behavioral Pharmacology cites a clinical study in which Parkinson’s disease patients experienced a 43% reduction in Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale scores after a 28-day exposure to the ketogenic diet. Remember that coconut oil supplies ketones to brain tissue, so it would follow that a diet high in coconut oil would be nourishing for the brain and neurologic system.
It is hypothesized that coconut oil may treat symptoms of MS because of these same ketones. Dr. Terry Wahls, a medical doctor who reversed MS in herself and now advises thousands of other patients with MS, consumes a largely ketogenic diet. In her "Paleo Plus" diet, 65% of one's calories are derived from coconut fat. Providing lots of healthy fat supports the brain and myelin sheath which surrounds nerves and are largely made of fat.
6) Supports Cardiovascular Health
In a 2015 study of over 25,000 Korean men and women, moderate coffee consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. Also, in an analysis of 21 different studies regarding coffee consumption and heart disease, the overall consensus was that habitual moderate coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease in women, and there was no overall correlation between coffee consumption and heart disease in any of the population studied.
Coffee is sometimes associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure. However, coconut oil is associated with a lowered risk which may help counterbalance the effects of coffee. In a 2013 study that followed lab rats that consumed virgin coconut oil (VCO), researchers found that VCO was capable of preventing elevated blood pressure and decreased vasoconstriction. In a 2015 study, patients with existing coronary artery disease were given coconut oil over a 6 month period. After that time, levels of HDL (good) cholesterol were raised and overall waist circumference in the participants was decreased.
Also, if one considers the Tokelauans of the South Pacific, you'll find very little to no heart disease. This population eats a diet filled with coconut-derived foods, about 63% of their calories. So, although their diet is rich in this type of saturated fat, heart disease is quite rare.
Organic, Unrefined Coconut Oil
7) Assists in Weight Loss
Coffee can raise metabolism and encourage weight loss. One cup of coffee can increase a person's resting metabolic rate by 4%. Caffeine promotes thermogenesis which is the body's ability to burn calories for heat. Other studies show that caffeine can specifically increase the burning of fat, by as much as 10% - 30%.
Coconut oil helps people lose weight because of its satiating fat. Consuming coconut oil helps to decrease appetite. In a 2009 study, women between the ages of 20-40 were given supplements of either 30 ml of soybean oil or coconut oil. After 12 weeks, the group taking coconut oil had a decrease in BMI and waist circumference and an increase in "good" HDL cholesterol. The other group did not experience such positive changes.
8) Reduces Cancer Risk
Studies show that coffee can reduce the risk of developing several cancers: endometrial, liver, colorectal, and melanoma. One study found that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of endometrial cancer by almost a fifth. In another study out of Italy, researchers found that coffee consumption can decrease the occurrence of liver cancer by 40%. It is also widely understood that coffee decreases the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver. One study of 489,706 individuals found that those who drank more than 4 cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. In a 2014 study of over 400,000 Caucasians, researchers found that those who consumed more than 4 cups of coffee per day had a 20% reduction in the risk of melanoma compared to those who consumed no coffee.
As for coconut oil, it appears to have some cancer-fighting properties as well. A study published in the journal Cancer Research showed that the lauric acid in coconut oil completely exterminated more than 90 percent of colon cancer cells after just two days of treatment in a colon cancer cell line (CRC) in vitro (in Petrie dishes). This shows promising signs for human trials. Because cancer cells thrive off of glucose and sugars, following a ketogenic diet, high in coconut oil can reduce the risk of cancer, halt cancer growth, and prevent reoccurrence.
9) Helps the Immune System
Coffee is known for its abundance of antioxidants. According to an article cited in the Journal of Nutrition, the single greatest dietary contributor to total antioxidant intake is coffee, above and beyond the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are important because they help prevent cell damage and inflammation and lower the risk of developing certain diseases.
As for coconut oil, its fatty acids consist of 50% lauric acid. Lauric acid is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. This helps to promote immunity and ward off infection. Coconut oil has also been found to increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (notably vitamins A, D, E, and K) as well as the absorption of antioxidants.
10) May Preserve Bone Health
People have often associated coffee consumption with decreased bone density. However, that theory has been largely debunked. A review of 32 observational studies performed in 2002 found no overall negative association between caffeine consumption and bone health, as long as those studied also had an adequate intake of calcium. So, it appears that caffeine doesn't deplete bones as once thought.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, actually helps the body absorb calcium. Researchers have found that bone loss due to osteoporosis decreases in patients who take coconut oil regularly. According to "Home Remedies for Osteoporosis," consuming three tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily can help prevent osteoporosis and five tablespoons daily can help reverse it.
11) Promotes Oral Health
In a study that followed more than 1,000 men over 30 years, researchers found that consumption of coffee may be protective against periodontal bone loss. Another study showed that coffee, without additives like milk and sugar, is protective against cavities.
As previously mentioned, coconut oil is rich in anti-bacterial lauric acid. Coconut oil essentially helps to rid the mouth of bacteria that may lead to gingivitis and cavities. As an aside, some even "oil pull" (or swish) with coconut oil for oral health. In the early 1900s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist, traveled the world studying the teeth of primitive cultures. He was surprised to find that some cultures, despite a lack of dental care and hygiene, had cavity-free teeth which were also perfectly aligned. Through his extensive research, he found those who consumed diets low in starches and sugars and high in healthy fats like coconut oil and cod liver oil had better oral health, and their diets were the root cause of disease-free teeth.
12) Decreases Pain
Studies show that a moderate dose of coffee (2-4 cups/day) can decrease joint pain. Caffeine can also lower uric acid levels. The Arthritis Foundation summarized the results of a study published in, "Arthritis and Rheumatism." It said that men who drink 4 cups or more of caffeinated coffee each day experience a reduced risk of gout.
In a 2014 study, researchers found that coconut oil reduced the inflammation associated with arthritis in rats. For those with arthritis, coconut oil acts as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, and joint lubricant. It can actually be taken internally or applied topically.
Try It Out!
Coffee coupled with coconut oil provides a wealth of advantages that, when consumed together, offer unequivocal health benefits.
So what kind of coffee and what kind of coconut oil are best? If possible, always choose organic. Coffee is known for being laden with pesticides. It is estimated that up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are sprayed per acre of non-organic coffee. For coconut oil, choose virgin unrefined coconut oil. Organic may or may not be necessary as coconuts are not a GMO product and pesticides are rarely, if ever, used to treat coconut trees. "Unrefined" oils ensure that the product is not bleached or stripped of any of its nutrients.
How much coconut oil? It's advised to begin with no more than 2 tablespoons per day. One may need to work up to consuming more depending on how well it is digested or tolerated (without having a laxative effect). Typically, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil per cup of coffee is best.
You can just spoon a tablespoon of coconut oil directly into a brewed cup of coffee. However, some swear by a blended version for a frothy, flavorful drink.
Instructions for Blended Coconut Oil Coffee
- Pour brewed coffee into a blender.
- Add coconut oil and any other additives. (Coconut milk, almond milk, regular dairy milk, ... some even add butter!)
- Put the lid on and blend away!
Organic Coffee K-Cups
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on February 01, 2020:
I use coconut yogurt in my cooking and it does away with joint pain. I didn't know it had so many benefits, though. Thank you for an informative article.
Stella Aligizaki from Greece on December 04, 2017:
A great article! I love coffee and I will start adding coconut oil. I didn't know the benefits of this combination. Thank you.
Brigiedarls on January 04, 2017:
Thanks for the information.A lot of people will benefit from this, even my old mother.thanks again
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on December 04, 2016:
I will start adding coconut oil to my coffee tomorrow. Thanks for listing the health benefits. Sharing.
Kim Maravich (author) from Pennsylvania on November 28, 2016:
Sure, I'd love to try it. Could you please email me at email@example.com? I can give you a shipping address that way. Thanks!