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Continued from Part 1

Wait, isn’t coconut oil full of saturated fat and bad for your heart?

It’s true, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. However, contrary to popular belief, coconut oil does not contribute to higher cholesterol levels. The reason for this is because of the MCFAs. By nature, these medium-chain fatty acids are burned almost immediately for energy production and thus are not converted to body fat or cholesterol like other fats do. Additionally, coconut oil’s high lauric acid content has been shown to increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decreasing the LDL/HDL ratio.

People who live in tropical regions have traditionally consumed diets high in saturated fats. This includes consuming more coconut oil than other parts of the world. According to the University of Michigan Health System, tropical populations, such as the Polynesians, tend to have lower instances of heart disease than those in Western countries. Eating coconut oil with a healthful diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a study conducted in 1981 by I.A. Prior, which examined the relationship between coconuts and cholesterol in the Polynesian diet.

Coconut oil as a cooking oil.

Coconut oil is an ideal oil to cook because its high saturated fat content enables it to remain stable at high cooking temperatures while still retaining its nutrients. Healthy oils such as olive oil can become harmful to your health if they are overheated and begin breaking down. Additionally, coconut oil does not go rancid easily and can be stored for long periods of time without becoming oxidized.

Keep banging those coconuts together.

Antibacterial Properties

Coconut oil is rich in the MCFAs lauric acid and capric acid. When consumed, the body breaks down these MCFAs into their monoglycerides, monolaurin and monocaprin, which has antimicrobial, antiviral and antiprotozoal properties.

The MCFA with the greatest antiviral strength is lauric acid. Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are the richest source of lauric acid at 48%. These two oils are the only food sources with significant amounts of lauric acid (also found in mother’s milk). Milk and butter are a distant second with only 3% lauric acid.

A few ways that MCFAs can protect you:

  • Lauric acid in combination with oregano oil, has even been found more effective in fighting the staph bacteria than antibiotics.
  • Fight yeast and fungal infections. Caprylic acid is the most potent yeast fighting non drug
  • Kills parasites such as tapeworms, lice, giardia, candida
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases
  • Kills viruses that cause influenza among other viruses
how we import coconuts in America (African Swallows).

how we import coconuts into America (migratory African Swallows).

Coconut oil has become a hot item in the health food world, and is readily available at almost all grocery stores. However, unlike the benefits of extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil has not yet received universal support from the medical community.

Most of my research comes from The Coconut Miracle by Bruce Fife. Upon doing additional follow up research to back up its claims, I came across several articles that found coconut oil to have a negative effect on cholesterol. One interesting thing to note however is that the studies were testing refined coconut oil rather than organic extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil. When coconut oil is not organic, extra-virgin unrefined, it contains trans fat, which will have a raise bad cholesterol levels.

Whole foods sells both unrefined organic and refined organic coconut oil under their Spectrum brand. Make sure you read the labels if you buy from them.

At the end of the day coconut oil is still high in saturated fat, so I would advise not going overboard with its daily intake and to stay within the bounds of the recommended amount (1-4 tbsp max).

Also check out this article on the Huffington Post, and Dr. Oz promoting coconut oil (kinda cheesy).

Photo Sources: 1, 2