Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel of mature coconuts harvested from coconut palm. It has a vast array of applications and is particularly popular in tropical regions where the plant is abundant. Coconut oil has a unique combination of fatty acids which can effectively create a positive impact on your health.
One of the properties of coconut that makes it suitable for cooking is its highly saturated fat content. This feature makes it one of the best fats particularly for cooking at high temperatures. Saturated fats retain their structure when subjected to high temperatures unlike vegetable oils which contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Additionally, some vegetable oils such as corn and sunflower produce toxic compounds when heated and may have harmful effects on health.
Several animal studies show that consuming coconut oil provides protection against free radicals which can have a negative effect on bone health. Calories found in coconut oil create a significant increase in bone volume and also improve bone structure.
Coconut oil has strong anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Several animal and human studies show that eating coconut oil greatly reduce markers of oxidative stress.
The saturated fats contained in coconut oil have a different reaction with the body compared with other dietary fats. This is due to the fact that the fatty acids in coconut oil helps the body to burn fat. The action of the fatty acids in coconut oil also produces quick energy for the body. It also raises the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood greatly reducing the risk of heart disease.
Dietary fats are grouped into long-chain-triglycerides and medium-chain-triglycerides. Coconut oil contains medium-chain-triglycerides which are essentially shorter fatty acid chains. When consumed,these shorter fatty acids chains are easily absorbed by the liver which turns them into a quick source of energy or ketones.
While obesity is thought to be primarily caused by an increased intake of calories, it is important to note that the source of calories greatly influences their effects. Coconut oil contains medium-chain-triglycerides which greatly increase the number of calories the body burns compared with longer chain fatty acids. However, coconut oil is also very high in calories and can easily lead to gain in weight if taken in high quantities.
A large percentage of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are made up of lauric acid which is digested to form monolaurin. Lauric acid and monolaurin contain anti-pathogen properties as they are able to kill harmful viruses, bacteria and fungi.
Medium-chain-triglycerides are also converted to ketones which have a powerful benefit for the brain. Studies show that a diet that includes medium-chain-triglycerides and a large carb content induces ketosis and helps treat epilepsy and also helps reduce epilepsy.
Consuming coconut oil may lead to a decrease in appetite and an increase in fat burning essentially leading toa decrease in body weight. Medium-chain-triglycerides in coconut oil help burn visceral fat that lodges in the abdominal cavity.
Coconut oil is widely used in baked goods, having a nut like quality with some sweetness. It adds a considerable amount of saturated fat to food while enhancing flavor. In order get the most out of it, it is advisable to use organic coconut oil rather than refined versions.