Coconuts have a variety of health benefits due to their fibre and nutritional content, but it’s the oil that makes them a remarkable source of food and medicine. Coconut oil has definitely earned its reputation as the healthiest oil in the world despite the fact that its high saturated fat content was once falsely claimed to be unhealthy. What makes coconut oil different?
Oils and fats are composed of molecules known as fatty acids. They are classified either according to saturation or based on molecular length and size of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are an example of the first class. The second classification is based on molecular size or length of the fatty acid’s carbon chain. Long chains of carbon atoms consist of each fatty acid with an attached hydrogen atom. There are short chain fatty acids known as SCFA, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) such as coconut oil and long chain fatty acids (LCFA). Whether unsaturated or saturated, the majority of fats and oils in our diet are composed of long chain fatty acids. In fact, a majority of the fatty acids commonly consumed are LCFA. Coconut oil is predominantly medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and the effects of the MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from the LCFA found in other foods. In fact, the saturated and unsaturated fat in milk, eggs, meat and even in plants and most vegetable oils are made of LCFA. Why is this relevant? It’s important because our bodies respond and metabolize each fatty acid differently. The MCFA found in coconut oil makes it special because these fatty acids don’t have a negative effect on cholesterol. In fact, they’re known to lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. There are only few dietary sources of MCFA, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil. The liver and gall bladder don’t need to digest and emulsify MCFA, resulting in instant energy, increased metabolic rate and subsequently greater heat production and increased circulation. Anyone with an impaired fat digestion or removed gallbladder will benefit from coconut oil as this oil is easily digested. Lauric acid
Many of coconut oil’s health benefits are attributed to its lauric acid. Lauric acid in the body is converted into monolaurin, a compound that’s highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them. Monolaurin is effective for treating candida albicans, fungal infections and athlete’s foot. It also targets bacterial infections and viruses like measles, influenza, hepatitis C and even HIV—researchers from the Philippines are studying the effectiveness of lauric acid against HIV/AIDS due to its strong antiviral properties. Moreover, lauric acid is non-toxic, making it a better alternative to modern drugs prescribed for viruses, fungal and bacterial infections. Without lauric acid, monolaurin cannot be produced by the body. Breast milk is the only other source of lauric acid, which could explain the lower incidence of infections among breast-fed infants. Regular consumption of coconut oil has also been found to boost immunity and reduce the frequency of sickness. The health benefits of coconut oil
Hair care – The unique fatty acids in coconut oil have a small molecular structure and pass freely into the hair’s cell membrane, allowing the oil to penetrate the hair’s shaft, which...