Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of matured coconuts. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its high saturated fat content it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidification, lasting up to two years without spoiling. Plenty of populations around the world have thrived for multiple generations eating massive amounts of coconut. Coconut oil contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently and can have therapeutic effects on within the body that include:
Aids in Weight Loss
The fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce appetite, which may positively affect body weight over the long term. The connection between coconut oil and weight loss is interesting. Farmers in America discovered this early last century when they tried to fatten their cattle by feeding them coconut oil. Instead of gaining weight, their cattle lost weight! So again, this is not news. Do a simple Internet search such as “benefits of coconut oil” and you will get plenty of details.
Helps keep weight balanced
Coconut fats have special fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy. One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems.
Reduces cholesterol Levels
The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels. Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut can help restore normal thyroid function, which can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol when not functioning optimally.
Coconut oil is also loaded with saturated fats, which actually do not harm the blood lipid profile like previously thought. Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL cholesterol to a benign subtype (as discussed in last week’s blog). There are also rat studies showing that coconut oil reduces triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and improves blood coagulation factors and antioxidant status. This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors should theoretically lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.
Kills viruses and Pathogens
Almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil is the 12-carbon Lauric Acid which has been shown to have the ability to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, helping to stave off infections. When coconut oil is broken down in the body, it forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin which has also been shown to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi including Staphylococcus Aureus (a very dangerous pathogen) and the yeast Candida Albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.
Improves Bone and Dental Health
Coconut oil improves calcium and magnesium absorption in the body, which in turn is greatly beneficial to dental and bone health. The improved calcium absorption created by coconut oil use ceases tooth decay and aids in the development of strong teeth. The combined increased calcium and magnesium absorption are of great benefit to middle-aged women who may become afflicted with osteoporosis.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
This is one fat that diabetics can eat without fear. Not only does it not contribute to diabetes, but it helps regulate blood sugar, thus lessening the effects of the disease. Island people have consumed large amounts of coconut oil for many generations without ever encountering diabetes, but when they abandoned it for other foods and oils, the results were disastrous.
Check back next week for part 2 where we’ll discuss the different types of coconut oil, as well as what to look for when buying it.