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Coconut Oil is Healthy

Updated on April 22, 2013

Many people are surprised to find that coconut oil may actually be healthy. Some worry about its high amount of saturated fat. However certain saturated fats are not as bad as some people may think.

The saturated fat that is in coconut oil is healthy medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Coconut oil is 60% MCT. Medium chain triglycerides are easier to metabolize and are good clean fuel for the brain. The liver preferentially uses the medium chain fats right away rather than storing it.

And certainly these medium chain saturated fat from natural tropical oils and foods are much better than the trans fats and the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils found in processed foods.

Some health article will refer to the use of MCT oils. Now you know that means "medium chain tryglyceride" oils such as coconut oil.

Coconut among the healthiest foods

In the book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why", says on page 10 ...

"Saturated fat is not always bad. Some forms of saturated fat -- for example, the kind in coconut -- are very healthy."

And coconut was listed as amount this 150 healthiest foods in the book. The author goes to say "Coconut and coconut oil are superfoods".[page 107]

50% of the fat in coconut is lauric acid which the body converts to monolaurin which has antiviral and anti-microbal properties. Lauric acid is a medium chain 12-carbon fatty acid.

Coconut oil is good and quick source of energy. The body does not need to metabolize it as much as other fats, because coconut oil is already in the form of medium chain triglycerides that the body can readily use. In addition, fat is a healthier fuel source than sugar.

What Doctors Have to Say About Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the best oil to use in cooking (especially stir frying) because they can withstand higher temperatures than some other oils. You don't want to overheat oils, since unsaturated fats can be damaged with high heat. This changes the chemistry of the oil and turns them into toxic bad fats. It is true that you have to scoop the solid form of the coconut oil into the frying pan. But it melts quickly. And you can even lick the spoon. The solid flakes of the coconut oil will melt in your mouth.

Dr. Mark Hyman write in The Blood Sugar Solution ...

"Coconut oil and butter contain lauric acid, a powerful anti-inflammatory fat" [page 202]

In his book Forever Young, Dr. Nicholas Perricone has a section titled "Oraganic Virgin Coconut Oil: The Saturated Fat You Should Eat Every Day". An excerpt goes like ...

"Virgin coconut oil ... speeds weight loss, lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart attacks, and improves diabetic conditions. ... Coconut oil is benficial to the immune system, because it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. " [page 91]

Coconut Oil Is Solid at Room Temperature

You can put it right in your mouth or use in in stir fry cooking.
You can put it right in your mouth or use in in stir fry cooking.

Coconut Oil on the Brain

Dr. Mary Newport has researched the use of coconut oil for memory loss and Alzheimer's. In fact, she has been providing coconut oil and MCT oil to her husband with Alzheimer's and found that short-term memory and depression improved while MRI scan shows his brain stopped shrinking.

The medium-chain-triglycerides in the coconut oil can supply the brain with clean fuel. Whether the brain's preferred fuel is glucose sugar or not is debatable. However, certain insulin resistant people or diabetics may have an decrease ability for brain cells to take in sugar. This diminishes the brain's fuel supply and also results in high levels of sugar in the blood which binds to protein molecules creating advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). In effect, it is diabetes of the brain. In this state, brain cells die more easily possibly causing neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's in the long term. The medium-chain-triglycerides in coconut oil goes to the liver where they are converted to ketones which the brain can use as alternate fuel.

Studies have found that medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive ability of older adults with memory issues by elevating plasma ketone body levels.

One of the ways to reduce risk of Alzheimer's is to consume healthy fats. Some people consider coconut oil to be one such healthy fat, even though it is primarily saturated fat. And it may especially be beneficial to those with Alzheimer's.

Saturated Fat May Not Be As Bad As Once Thought

Many authorities now believe that saturated fat are not as bad as we once thought they were. Jillian Michaels says in Master Your Metabolism that although saturated fat raises your bad LDL cholesterol, saturated fat also raises the good HDL cholesterol. Quoting from page 98, she writes ...

"Some researchers believe that saturated fat are not nearly as dangerous as has been suggested, because their effects on LDL and HDL actually canceled each other out."

Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil

Saturated fat still remains controversial. Certainly the saturated fat in tropical plants such as in coconuts are better than saturated fat in animal meat due to the fact that the fat in animals accumulates toxins.

And certainly, the saturated fat in natural coconut oil is far better than the artificial saturated fat known as trans-fat created by the food industry by hydrogenating vegetable oils at high temperatures.

It is important to understand the distinction between saturated fat in animal and plant products versus the trans fat in processed foods. The "saturated fat" amount in the labels in processed food is often "trans fat" (also known as hydrogenated vegetable oils). They are manufactured by altering the chemical structure of vegetable oil. And nearly all health authorities say this trans fat is bad and some countries such as Denmark have banned them. They are not the same as the saturated fats in animal and plant products which many authorities are saying are good.

Nevertheless, some authorities still recommend limiting saturated fat. In particular, the authors of UltraPrevention writes that ...

"Reduce your intake of saturated animal fat. ... Saturated fats in general should be minimized, including vegetable sources of saturated fat such as coconut or palm oils." [page 239]

Using Coconut Oil

When you buy coconut oil from this store, it may come in solid form. This is because coconut oil is solid under 76°F. It liquefies above 76 degrees. the health benefits are the same either way.

When buying coconut oil you want to get the unrefined virgin cocoa nut oil (and organic is a plus). When starting out with coconut oil for the first time, start off slow until your body gets used to it. For example, maybe no more than one tablespoon a day to begin with.

Coconut Oil as Hand Lotion

Coconut oil can be used as hand lotion especially for dry skin. Anything that you put on your skin can have potential of getting into the blood stream. (That is how for example nicotine patch works.) Since coconut oil can be eaten directly by mouth, it does not contain the chemicals that are in some hand creams.

You can rub solid coconut oil onto your hands. It's melting point is just slightly at or above room temperature. So as soon as it is applied topically on your hands, your body heat will melt it into a liquid which you can spread more easily. It is true that now anything that you touch will get some coconut oil on it. But you can wear one of those lotion gloves.

Coconut oil can also be used for hair care.

Coconut Oil As Sunscreen

Health Extremist wrote how coconut oil can be used as a sunscreen. While it only blocks 20% of UV rays and would have an low SPF rating as compared to traditional sunscreens, it is a great alternative to using the traditional sunscreen that contain harmful chemicals.

Other oils can be used as sunscreen too. See technical data of various oils and it percentage of sun blockage.


Author may receive revenues from the display ads within content. Author does use coconut oil in cooking and will lick the spoon and have used as hand lotion.


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