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Home > Research Department  > Supplement Articles > Coconut Oil
    Supplement Articles  
COCONUT OIL
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)
Last Updated:

Coconut oil is an edible oil from the kernel or 'meat' of the coconut, which comes from the coconut palm (cocos nucifera)...

Coconut oil is very stable, even in high heat, making it a great choice for frying.

Medium chain fatty acids
We are now much more educated about the severe health risks associated with consumption of trans fats, and how some saturated fat in our diets can actually improve our overall health. We also know more about the specific fatty acids in coconut oil, namely lauric acid and capric acid, both medium chain fatty acids (MCFA's). MCFA's contain 6-10 carbons, compared to long chain fatty acids, which contain 10+.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut Oil is excellent for cooking, baking or on its own to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Medium chain fatty acids differ significantly from their longer chained counterparts and may be a more fat friendly, abundant, rapidly used and available source of energy. Another bonus to using MCFA's for energy is that, when compared to carbohydrates, MCFA's do not have a stimulatory effect on insulin levels. Studies are now showing that coconut oil may be useful in controlling weight gain and obesity, thanks to its lauric acid component. Lauric acid makes up the largest proportion of saturdated fat in coconut oil. Lauric acid has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol) in the body, creating a more favourable cholesterol profile.

Coconut oil and Alzheimer's
Advancements in Alzheimer’s research has led to a theory about the development of the disease that points to the inability of brain cells to process glucose. Scientists are not sure why this happens, but this inability leads to the starvation of brain cells. Research dedicated to studying the potential for coconut oil use in Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention is promising. Since coconut oil is a natural source of MCFA’s, which provide the brain with ketones instead of glucose for energy, regular consumption has been shown to improve cognitive function and mood in Alzheimer’s patients. These findings are optimistic and could mean coconut oil has a role in stopping brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients. Of course, more studies will need to be done to test the accuracy of the theory and if it is a universal phenomenon.

More great reasons to incorporate more coconut oil into your diet!
MCFA's have also been used widely in the treatment of malabsorption pathologies,such as pancreatitis, Crohn's, celiac's, and cystic fibrosis, showing a huge benefit over low fat diets in terms of maintaining adequate nutrition and weight.
They have been found to aid in the digestion, absorption and transport of lipids.
Coconut oil may be effective for the treatment of gallstones or prevention of gallstone in individuals who are susceptible.
Works well as a moisturizer, applied directly to the skin as needed.
Another great benefit of coconut oil is its ability to withstand high heats, while still retaining the health benefits of its fatty acids. It is one of the 'healthier' oils to fry with, if you must fry with oil.

More health benefits - Immune Support
Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body, a MCFA that is otherwise only naturally found in breast milk. We now know the importance of monolaurin during the first few days and months of life, as it supports the absorption of necessary minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Although it was initially reserved for use in the soap and cosmetic industry, Lauric acid has significant anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoal functions within the body, as well. It has been shown to destroy lipid coated viruses, such as HIV, herpes, CMV, and influenza, as well as bacteria like heliobacter, and protozoa such as giardia. It has these effects by solubilizing the lipids and phospholipids in the envelope of the virus, causing disintegration. Some researchers have also suggested that monolaurin from lauric acid interferes with signal transduction between virus and bacteria, as well as interfering with virus assembly and maturation. The immune benefits of coconut oil (and specifically its MCFA content, including lauric acid) have been clearly demonstrated.

Everything in moderation
As always, the key to a healthy diet is moderation. Almost any fat, in excessive amounts, can lead to a greater risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events. No more than 30% of our caloric intake should come from fat, and of this 30%, only 10% should come from medium chain fatty acids. A diet containing only MCFA's is lacking in some essential fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, necessary to a variety of processes within the body. That being said, it is so important to understand the place that fats can and should have in a healthy diet, and why a 'low fat diet', unless essential to your specific health condition, may actually be leading to weight gain and disease. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's all about moderation.

What to look for (in your health food store)?
Virgin or extra virgin NON-HYDROGENTATED coconut oil, when purchased from a reputable source and consumed in moderation has numerous health benefits AND it's delicious. Coconut oil is naturally a solid at room temperature, and will turn to liquid if warmed to over 75-76 degrees. At this point the solid becomes a liquid. If this happens in your cupboard over the summer, do not worry, the product has not gone bad and it is still effective. It will form a solid again when it cools. Coconut oil has a long shelf life.

Coconut Oil - QUICK FACTS

PARTS USED

· Kernel or meat of the coconut.

INDICATIONS

· Low HDL cholesterol, immune deficiencies/immune support, Crohn's, Ulcerative colitis and Cystic fibrosis (to prevent wasting), Alzheimer's, gallstones, obesity.

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· Unknown. Can be used for daily cooking, baking and frying.

WORKS WELL WITH

· Omega 3 fatty acids, like fish oil, flax and more.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Click for Products

· Talk to you doctor before using coconut oil as medicine if you have severe liver pathologies.

For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2015.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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