Coconut oil is composed of 92.1% saturated fat, monounsaturated fat at 6.2%, and only 1.6% from polyunsaturated fats. It’s almost solid at room temperature. It is therefore a stable oil for cooking dishes. It has a consistency similar to butter and can be used for the preparation of vegetables, in addition to smoothies, tea, coffee, or for meat and fish. It’s also beneficial for the skin and scalp.
Its main fatty acids derived by acid- lauric (present in breast milk), is a medium chain fatty acid, which is considered to be the most tolerated fatty acid. It does not require the production of bile acids to be digested. It also has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
The majority of the saturated fatty acids are able to be produced alone. The main fatty acid that our body produces is palmitic acid (saturated), from which other fatty acids such as stearic acid are produced. Conversely, other fatty acids cannot be produced by our body and must be consumed by the diet. One in particular can be synthesized only through the mammary gland. This is precisely lauric acid. The body needs to produce lauric acid monoglycerides (anti-microbial) used to fight viruses and pathogenic bacteria. That is why lauric acid is a fundamental saturated fatty acid. With the exception of human milk and cow’s milk (trace amounts), the main source of lauric acid actually lies in coconut oil and palm oil.
Additionally, lauric acid is a key substance against some diseases. It was found to be useful in fighting viruses such as HIV, influenza, and herpes.
Some data on the countries that consume coconut oil
- Among the countries that have reliable data, Sri Lanka has the highest consumption of coconut oil and the lowest rate of heart disease.
- Heart attack and stroke are totally absent from the population of the island of Kitava (New Guinea), which consumes about 20% of calories just from coconut oil.
- The inhabitants of the island of Tokelau (New Zealand), who obtained 50% of calories from coconut oil, are equally immune from heart disease.
The benefits of coconut oil
Here are some of the benefits arising from the regular intake of coconut oil:
- Helps to normalize blood fats
- Protects the liver from alcohol and other toxins
- Can play a vital role in the prevention of kidney disease and bladder
- Is associated with a better control of blood sugar and insulin and thus in the prevention of diabetes
- Has anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties
- Believed to promote the absorption of minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), which are important for the health of teeth and bones
- Can help improve the appearance of the scalp and hair, and increases the elasticity of the skin when ingested or applied externally
- Supports the health of the heart and thyroid
- Strengthens the immune system
- Helps in the treatment of Candida fungal infections
- Is rich in saturated fat and therefore very stable during cooking without the risk of becoming rancid. When the fat to become rancid or oxidizes partially hydrogenated becoming one of the worst foods, and exposing us to the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Has very few fatty acids
Extraction process and best coconut oil to buy
After the coconut is opened, the pulp is left to dry. To extract the oil, the dried pulp is heated to a low temperature until the moisture is completely evaporated, in favor of the oil residue. This is what should always happen.
In many cases, however, to accelerate the drying step by heating, most coconut oil producers will use chemical agents. To overcome this problem, it is imperative to buy only virgin olive oil (or extra virgin) and organic, so that the product has not been refined, deodorized, decolorized, and hydrogenated during the juicing process and that the coconuts were not grown with pesticides and fertilizers.
It’s argued that the term “virgin” for coconut oil is the best existing formula and the word “extra-virgin” does not add anything more except as a commercial boost from a marketing point of view.
Problems and contraindications associated with the consumption of coconut oil
Generally, coconut oil has no contraindications unless there are no allergies. However, in rare cases, can symptoms of nausea, gastritis or diarrhea. In most cases it is the quality of the product that makes the difference and that many of the symptoms disappear by simply changing coconut oil.
Unlike other sources of fat from animal sources, coconut oil contains practically no micro-nutrients (or if present in very tiny amounts) like vitamin B12, K2, cholesterol, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and omega-3 (all substances that we can still take through the consumption of other foods).