Coconut Oil is a saturated fat used for thousands of years in tropical regions for its healing and protective benefits. It is also very heat-stable, which means it is well suited for high-temperature cooking and the hot temperature of the human organism. Coconut oil is unusually rich in short and medium-chain fatty acids. Shorter chain length allows fatty acids to be metabolized without the use of the carnitine transport system. Coconut oil requires less energy for breakdown and is the only fat that does not require pancreatic enzymes for digestion. Unlike unsaturated fats from vegetable and seed oils, coconut oil is slow to oxidize and thus resistant to rancidity. When an unsaturated fat enters the human body, it easily creates what is called lipid peroxidation.
Lipid peroxidation occurs during seizures and is involved in the nerve cell degeneration of Alzheimer’s disease. Unsaturated fats weaken the cellular structure, causing the cells to be destroyed prematurely. For those who don’t know, keeping blood sugar stable throughout the day is very important if we want our body to function optimally. Unsaturated oils lower the blood sugar by damaging mitochondria, causing respiration to be uncoupled from energy production, (meaning that fuel is burned without useful effect), and it suppressed the activity of the respiratory enzyme by decreasing the respiratory production of energy.
Coconut oils metabolic effects on the thyroid support the conversion of pregnenolone into cholesterol. Adequate thyroid hormone and Vitamin A are also essential in the conversion of cholesterol into the necessary anti-aging steroids. Coconut-eating cultures in the tropics have consistently lower cholesterol than people in the United States.
Many people see coconut oil in its hard, white state, and as a result of their training watching television or going to medical school–associate it with the cholesterol-rich plaques in blood vessels. Those lesions in blood vessels are actually caused by lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids. Under a stressful event, adrenaline liberates fats from storage, and the lining of blood vessels is exposed to high concentrations of the blood-borne material
When the metabolism is slow, the body burns energy at a slower rate often resulting in excess weight gain. Coconut oil increases the metabolic rate and has been shown to be thermogenic.
In the 1940s, farmers attempted to use cheap coconut oil for fattening their animals, but they found that it made them lean, active, and hungry. For a few years, an antithyroid drug was found to make livestock get fat while eating less food, but then it was found to be a strong carcinogen, and it also probably produced hypothyroidism in the people who ate the meat. It was later found that the same antithyroid effect, causing animals to get fat without eating much food, could be achieved by using soybeans and corn as feed (omega-3/6s).
Coconut oil has less fat calories than other fat. Because the medium-chain fatty acids are smaller than other fatty acids, coconut oil contains more glycerol per gram than other oils. Glycerol is an alcohol, therefore yielding only 7 calories per gram instead of 9.
Another animal experiment fed diets that were low and high in total fat, and indifferent groups the fat was provided by coconut oil or pure unsaturated oil, or by various mixtures of the two oils. At the end of their lives, the animals’ obesity increased directly in proportion to the ratio of unsaturated oil to coconut oil in their diet, and was not related to the total amount of fat they had consumed.
When the gallbladder is removed the small amount of bile that is transferred from the liver to the small intestine is not enough to adequately function in fat digestion, even when moderate amounts are consumed. People who have their gallbladder removed benefit greatly from the use of coconut oil as the MCFA’s do not require bile to be digested.
Coconut oil acts as an antioxidant in the body because it neutralizes the highly reactive PUFAs and stops the chain reaction that creates free radicals. This results in less damage to the enzymes and hormones essential to the digestion of proteins and the secretion of thyroid hormone. Protecting hormones enable us to utilize insulin more efficiently, thereby assisting in the regulation of blood sugar.
Coconut oil supports the immune system with its antimicrobial properties acting as barriers to pathogenic organisms. Immunosuppression was observed in patients who were being “nourished” by intravenous emulsions of “essential fatty acids,” and as a result coconut oil used as the basis for intravenous fat feeting, except in organ-transplant patients. For those patients, emulsions of unsaturated oils are used specifically for their immunosuppressive effects. General aging, and especially aging of the brain, is increasingly seen as being closely associated with lipid peroxidation.
Antimicrobial & Antifungal
Nature has provided natural protective properties during growth to plants and animals. Tropical warm weather is a breeding ground for bacteria and organisms. Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties due to the tropical regions in which coconut trees grow.
It is the MCFA’s themselves that provide the antimicrobial properties of coconut oil. 48% of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted into the fatty acid monolaurin. Monolaurin protects infants from viral, bacterial, or protozoal infections. Coconut oil is a common ingredient in infant formula due to its protective properties and because it supplies easily digestible nutrients.
Coconut oil is a good choice for those suffering from GI disorder and for infants due to it’s easy absorption. Coconut oil places less stress on the digestive and enzyme systems, consequently conserving the body’s energy.
In diabetes or any other hypo-metabolic state, the cells are deprived of glucose, the fuel needed for energy. Because coconut oil does not require enzymes for metabolism, it places less demand on the enzyme production of the pancreas. Coconut oil supplies energy to the cell, improves insulin secretion and utilization of glucose.
Heart damage is easily produced in animals by feeding them linoleic acid; this “essential” fatty acid turned out to be the heart toxin in rapeseed oil. The addition of saturated fat (coconut oil) to the experimental heart-toxic, oil-rich diet protects against the damage to heart cells.
If you cannot consume coconut oil, it does not belong on the skin. Most individuals shouldn’t have a problem using it as a natural alternative to skin care. Most lotions and skin care products contain high amounts of PUFAs, which penetrate the skin and are absorbed into the bloodstream and tissues. The free radical deterioration of these oils dry and ages the skin. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin and makes a great ointment for the relief of dry, rough, and wrinkled skin. It is also useful as a topical ointment for eczema and other skin conditions like psoriasis. The antiseptic fatty acids help to prevent fungal and bacterial infections on the skin.
How can you incorporate it into your food habits?
- Add it to coffee, tea, or broths
- Add to smoothies
- Take it by the spoon
- Melt and use it on a carrot salad
- Use it to grease when baking
- Saute fruit, eggs, vegetables and meat
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