Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
“The drugstore in a bottle” is how coconut oil is now called in the Philippines where virgin oil has been creating literally an “explosion” of the sick and not so sick treating every imaginable disease with this oil – and achieving, unbelievably rapid relief and cures”
– Conrado S. Dayrit, MD, FACC, FPCC, FPCP, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, University of the Philippines, College of Medicine
Since coconut oil landed itself on the Dr. Oz show, it has been all the rage in the health industry. Barely keeping itself stocked on the shelves, coconut oil is finally getting the attention that it deserves.
Revered by health enthusiasts worldwide, this once vilified saturated fat, has now proven itself worthy it be called a staple to any healthy diet, and one of my key recommendations to anyone looking to improve their health through diet. Coconut oil not only has a robust list of benefits through its internal use, it also proves to be just as beneficial through external use. Versatility, love that! So let’s delve in a bit to see exactly what is so magical about this new tropical oil.
Why Coconut Oil all of a Sudden?
Coconut oil has actually been researched for quite awhile, starting with the health pioneer and dentist, Weston A. Price. In the 1930’s, Dr. Price studied the diets of native people in the South Pacific, and found that a main source of their diet came from coconut products, and yet they were extremely healthy and trim, despite their high intake of saturated fat. This conclusion was a gross contradiction of the Western thought process at the time, and therefore was much overlooked. But fortunately Dr. Price’s research was corroborated by results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1981, that demonstrated the health benefits of high saturated fat intake through coconut oil, and its positive effects on vascular health. So it seems as though these two studies really opened the door for the re-evaluation of saturated fat, especially through coconuts and its health benefits.
How is the Fat from Coconut Oil Different?
Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s), compared to vegetable/seed oils (safflower, corn, soy, cottonseed, canola) that are compromised of long-chain fatty acids. MCFA’s have been found to be healthy due to the following:
- They are smaller, and therefore permeate cell membranes easily. This is important because they do not require lipoproteins or enzymes to be properly utilized by the body. This means they are more efficiently used and can actually help with weight loss.
- Because MCFAs are more efficiently used, there is less strain on your digestive system. This is important because it reduces the chance of having digestive disorders, weight gain, gallbladder dysfunction and cardiovascular issues.
- MCFAs are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. This is crucial since fat is a fantastic source of slow-burning fuel, especially for athletes.
- Are stressful on the digestive and cardiovascular system as well as the gallbladder, pancreas and liver, because they require lipoproteins, carrier proteins and enzymes for transport.
- They are predominately stored as fat when the body is not immediately utilizing them.
- They can be deposited in arteries causing stress on the cardiovascular system.
Is Coconut Oil Healthy? What are its other health components?
It sure does! Coconut oil has also been found to be 50% Lauric Acid, which is a rare MCFA found in mother’s milk. Lauric Acid is vital because it supports a healthy metabolism and has shown to have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Therefore, it may strengthen your immune system and fight harmful bacteria and illnesses. Furthermore, Lauric Acid has been thought to be an effective way to treat candida albicans, athlete’s foot, measles, influenza, hepatitis C and even HIV. In fact, researchers from the Philippines are studying the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS due to its strong anti-viral properties. Moreover, lauric acid is non-toxic, making it a better alternative to modern drugs that are typically prescribed for viruses as well as fungal and bacterial infections.
Cliff Notes or The Run Down
- Weight Loss: Yep, we are using fat to burn fat. MCFAs have been found to be 3x as effective in speeding up our metabolism than LCFAs, and have shown to help people with weight loss.
- Cardiovascular Health, Cholesterol and Diabetes: Coconut Oil has shown to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease while lowering cholesterol levels. But that is not it! It even has shown to increase HDL while lowering LDL levels. Amazing.
- Osteoporosis, Calcium and Magnesium Absorption: Research has found coconut oil to prevent osteoporosis because it increases calcium and magnesium absorption in the body.
- Pneumonia: A study from the American College of Chest Physicians from Oct 29th, 2008, showed that coconut oil offered pneumonia patients faster and more complete relief from symptoms.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Anecdotal evidence shows that using high doses of coconut oil may improve cognitive function in those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
- Neuropathy, Nerve and Brain Health: MCFAs are crucial to the myelin sheath, the protective cover of nerves, and has shown to be an important adjunct to those with neuropathy or other nerve conditions.
- Blood Sugar: Coconut oil may improve blood sugar levels through its ability to improve the secretion of insulin and the utilization of glucose.
- Thyroid Health: Coconut oil is now one of the leading alternative remedies for poor thyroid function and is now recognized as an integral part of therapy.
Coconut Oil is the Ideal Cooking Oil
Did you know that most oils that you use to cook actually get damaged in the process, therefore turning into an unhealthy, pro-oxidant (substances that damage cells and tissues)? All oils and fats have a smoke point, and once they reach that point the fats become rancid. Rancid oils are extremely dangerous to the body and can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and other chronic diseases. Therefore, by using oil with a high smoke point, such as coconut oil; you can cook on relatively high heat without the risk of damaging its nutrient content. To learn more, read my article: “Cooking with Oils: Inside Guide.”
Soft, Healthy and Youthful Skin – not to mention UV Protection!
If you have been following me for a while, you will know that using coconut oil as my moisturizer is one of my favorite tricks. Coconut oil actually has the ability to penetrate deep into the dermis and act as a protective barrier against environmental and free radical damage, making it ideal for anti-aging and skin cancer prevention. Not to mention, the oil provides sun protection by screening 20% of ultraviolet exposure. Furthermore, coconut oil contains vitamin E, the antioxidant revered for its ability to heal skin abrasions, burns and reduce scar tissue development.
How Much is Enough?
Researchers have determined that 3 tbs is a good dose for therapeutic use and 1-2 tbs for general health.
How do I use it?
Fortunately coconut oil is very versatile and easy to use. You can use it as an olive oil or vegetable oil replacement when cooking, or even as a substitute for salad dressings, potatoes or any baking. In addition, there is also coconut butter, which can be used in desserts, protein bars or even on toast. Oh right, and smoothies….amazing in smoothies and hot cacao! Get creative!
What Quality am I looking for?
Since coconut oil has become so popular, it is now important to make sure you are purchasing an oil of high quality that contains all of its nutritional components in tack. Therefore, make sure to read the label and use the following checklist as a guideline:
- Certified organic by USDA standards
- No refining
- No chemicals added (including hexane)
- No bleaching
- No deodorization
- No hydrogenation
- Made from traditional coconut palms only, no hybrid or genetically modified (GMO) varieties
- Made from fresh coconuts, not the dried “copra” used in cheap oils
- Made without heat processing, raw
A few of my Favorite Brands
Like I mentioned before there a quite a few companies producing coconut oil and coconut butter and to be honest, many of them are good in different ways. So to be honest, I actually have a few different companies that I use.
Artisana: Coconut Butter, raw – This is the BEST coconut butter. I use this for all my raw treats, smoothies, hot cacao and for sprouted toast. Amazing!
Ojio: Coconut Oil – This coconut oil has a light and soft smell so I use this for my body and face moisturizer. There is no lotion better.
“He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children”
♥ To the Addition of Something Delectable and Health Promoting!