Coconut Oil is one of the healthiest oils we have around us. Though it puts most of the people in a dilemma whether to include it in their diet or not because of its high saturated fat content. But the truth is that saturated fats should not be completely omitted from the diet. As per National Institute Of Nutrition (NIN) guidelines, saturated fats can contribute in providing 8-10% of our daily calorie needs.
What makes coconut oil distinctive from other saturated fats is the presence of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These are metabolised in our body in a slightly different way than other fats which make coconut oil beneficial for our health. Based on the structure, saturated fats are classified as short-chain fatty acids which have 6 or less than 6 carbon atoms, medium chain fatty acids which have 8-10 carbon atoms and long chain fatty acids generally containing 12 or more carbon atoms. Since coconut oil contains MCFAs so they are easily digestible. They travel straight to the liver, where they are used either to derive energy or convert to ketones. MCFAs are also of 4 types - C6 (Caproic acid), C8 (Caprylic acid), C10 (Capric acid) and C12 (Lauric acid). Out of these C8 and C10 are more beneficial as compared to the other two. So, if a person is planning to opt for MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) oil in the form of supplement, it would be wise to study the composition well. Preferably the oil should contain more of C8 and C10 with less of C12.
Let’s have a brief understanding of some of the health benefits of Coconut oil:
- Coconut oil acts as an instant source of energy because it is easily digestible and quickly taken-up by the liver to provide energy.
- Coconut oil can promote fat burning thus, good for people looking to shed some kilos. Studies have shown that C10 present in coconut oil assists our body in burning fat and suppressing appetite, therefore helps lose weight. A study was conducted by St Onge et al. (2008) in which the metabolic profile of people consuming MCT as a part of weight loss diet were assessed, with people who used olive oil. Data showed that long-term consumption of MCTs in moderate amounts does not have any risk of developing cardiovascular disorders.
- Coconut oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. Not only it prevents inflammatory diseases but can be useful in treating disorders like arthritis.
- Due to the presence of polyphenols, coconut is also an excellent antioxidant. It fights free radicals by maintaining the adequate levels of Glutathione in our blood.
- Coconut oil is effective in healing wounds, dermatitis and certain skin diseases due to its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and moisturising properties. A study conducted by Loung et al. (2014) observed that due to small molecular size, coconut oil fats could easily penetrate and disintegrate bacterial cell membrane killing it in the end. This indicates an active role in boosting immune health.
- Since coconut oil takes less time to digest so it can be used by endurance athletes as their energy fuel. It has also been shown that when combined with omega 3 fats, the effectiveness of coconut oil magnifies. A homemade pre-workout energy fuel — mix coconut oil and chia seeds with honey for athletes during events and training sessions.
- Oil pulling using coconut oil is a traditional practice which has been in use since ages, by people to destroy oral bacteria, prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
- Coconut oil can also be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance.
- Since coconut oil is effective in producing ketones which provide energy to our brain without the need for insulin to convert glucose into energy. Hence, it is beneficial if taken during Alzheimer treatment as this disease makes the patient loses his/her ability to produce insulin.
- Coconut oil is helpful during pancreatic and gall bladder diseases as it won’t need pancreatic enzymes for its digestion.
So, to conclude we can say that consuming coconut is good for our health. Just one to two tablespoons per day won’t harm us in any way. It can be used in cooking, baking, smoothies and coffee. Always remember to use organic unrefined coconut oil.
- St-Onge, M. P., Bosarge, A., Goree, L. L., & Darnell, B. (2008). Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(5), 547–552.
- Chew YL. (2019)The beneficial properties of virgin coconut oil in management of atopic dermatitis. Phcog Rev,13(25),24-7
- Silalahi, J., Permata, Y., & De lux Putra, E. (2014). ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF HYDROLYZED VIRGIN COCONUT OIL. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, 7(7), 90-94. Retrieved from https://innovareacademics.in/journals/index.php/ajpcr/article/view/1042