Coconuts are high in saturated fat. However, they are a good source of fiber, which may help keep the fats from being absorbed into the body. They are also a very good source of potassium and can keep you hydrated longer. But, the true health benefits contained in coconuts comes from its oil.
Coconut Oil ★★
This is the oil that defies the common mantras about good and bad fats. Most of the fats in Coconuts (and coconut oil) are saturated fats. However, communities around the world that eat coconuts regularly do not have the same health problems as those who eat a lot of unhealthy fats.
Lauric acid is the compound that gives coconut oil its unique qualities. Close to half of the oil found in coconuts is made up of lauric acid, which is a saturated fat. However, its a medium chain fat or MCT (medium chain triglyceride). In fact, about the third of all the fats in coconut oil are MCT’s. Saturated fats pack more energy than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats but they ordinarily take much longer to break down in our body because of their size. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature even when the room is quite warm. Room temperature is not warm enough to “melt” these fats from its solid state to liquid. Coconut oil, which is loaded with MCT’s and even lighter monounsaturated fats, becomes liquid at about 76 degrees. This means it will stay as a liquid in your body and not block your arteries like saturated fats. Lauric acid breaks down much faster than other saturated fats, converting it into energy instead of storing it away in your fat cells. This means that you can get a healthy, sustained energy boost from an oil without the added cost of energy crashes or belly fat, making coconut oil a great tool to help you lose weight. As an added bonus, lauric acid can be transferred to a nursing baby through a mother’s breast milk.
This oil is safe for people with diabetes. The oil helps lower and stabilize blood sugar levels because your body has such a low glycemic response even though coconuts and coconut oil taste so sweet. Some studies even suggest that the oil encourages your cells to take in glucose even without the presence of insulin. This indicates that coconut oil may help with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, more studies need to be done to confirm this.
Coconut oil is an excellent oil for both your hair and skin. It works as a moisturizer, an antioxidant source that neutralizes free radicals, and a natural sunblock. The oil is also great for oil pulling, where you swish around a few tablespoons of the oil, in your mouth, for several minutes. As you rinse with the oil, it “pulls” out toxins from your body through mouth and tongue. Sesame oil works equally as well as coconut oil for oil pulling.
Coconut water is potentially good source of potassium, magnesium and manganese, depending on how much coconut water you are willing to consume. One ounce of coconut water contains about 2% of your daily value of these minerals. Most bottles contain anywhere from 8 to 33 ounces, or more, of coconut water so how much of these minerals you ultimately get depends on the quality of water and size of the bottle. A 33 ounce bottle of coconut water, which is a little less than 4 cups, will give you about two thirds of your daily value of potassium, magnesium and manganese. In addition, you will also get just under 40% of your daily value of vitamin C as well.
Coconut oil helps you absorb calcium and magnesium better than you would without the oil present. This means that coconut oil can be great for your bones and teeth as well as help calm your nerves. It can help curb bone diseases like osteoporosis, which means it can be very beneficial for middle aged women or those who have low bone density.
There are also some signs that it may help treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also great for the immune system because it is a very good antimicrobial.
An added bonus, Coconut oil doesn’t go rancid like many other oils over time because it contains so many saturated fats so it lasts for a long time. It’s also great for cooking because it can withstand high temperatures unlike other lighter oils like olive or avocado.
As always, look for organic coconuts, coconut water, or organic coconut oil to ensure you’re getting the best quality.
- Mercola, J, Countless uses for coconut oil – the simple the strange and the downright odd. located at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/18/coconut-oil-uses.aspx
- Amarasiri W, Dissanayake A. Coconut fats. The Ceylon Medical Journal [serial online]. June 2006;51(2):47-51.