Coconut Oil Revisited

The reputation of coconut oil has been tainted since the 1950’s when a smear campaign was launched against saturated fat and cholesterol  in order to protect the margarine and shortening industry. Thus, a fat that had been used for centuries went out of style, being replaced by fabricated fats. Coconut oil has been used for centuries in tropical regions across the world. In the 1960’s a study was done on the South Pacific Islands of Pukapuka and Tokelau. Over 60% of their caloric intake came from the saturated fat in coconut oil. What scientist found was a healthy and lean population, relatively free of modern diseases (including obesity). Also vascular disease was uncommon, which is one of the big misconceptions about saturated fat that it can lead to an increased risk of heart diseases. Studies have actually shown that an average American diet with added coconut oil had better serum lipid measurements than the American Heart Association diet. Saturated fat is essential to health, however, and coconut oil is 65% medium chain saturated fatty acids, 28% other saturated fat, and only 8% monounsaturated/polyunsaturated. Saturated fats make up the cell membrane and comprise a large portion of the brain. They give structure to the cells, help with immunity and with omega-3 retention.

One of the key things about the saturated fats in coconut oil is that they are mostly medium chain fatty acids. This is important because the only other significant source of medium chain fatty acids is human breast milk. That right there should be an indicator of how important coconut oil is because, it is essential to the first few years of life and development. Lauric acid is the key medium chain fatty acid found in coconut oil. It is essential to infant formula by providing antimicrobial properties. This perspective allows the body to utilize lauric acid to kill or destroy pathogenic viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Some research suggests that it may be able to treat/prevent heart disease because the monoglyercide lauric acid kills cytomegalovirus and helicobactor pylori. Other studies by Dr. Kenneth Carrol on animals have shown the diets laden with polyunsaturated fats are more cancer promoting, whereas saturated fats (coconut oil in particular) are more cancer reducing. Polyunsaturated diets and partially hydrogenated vegetable fats have also been shown to have a negative affect on the immune system. On the flip side diets high in coconut and fish oil have been shown to improve immune response because they decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines. An article on Alzheimer’s showed that ketones bodies (which circulate in the body when a diet is high in fat, yet low in carbohydrates) can be used as fuel for the brain, rather than glucose. In this instance it could actually help prevent/treat dementia or the improve Alzheimer’s awareness. The benefit of using coconut oil as the fat in this instance is that the medium chain fatty acids are not stored as fats, but converted immediately to ketone bodies, thus they’re a readily available source of energy for the body and the brain. Of other interest to those looking to lose weight, is that coconut oil (due to its high concentration of medium chain fatty acids) actually has fewer calories. There are 2.56% less calories per gram than in a traditional gram of fat. Coconut oil is great for storage and for cooking. It should be mostly solid and pearly white at room temperature because it is mostly saturated fat. Lauric acids do not become oxidized either, which polyunsaturated fats have a tendency to turn rancid in the body. Cook with this oil because it has a high smoke point, therefore, the nutrients and medium chain fatty acids are not comprised in the process of cooking. For more on fat-burner weight loss programs check out our website at bodychange.net

 

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