There is growing worldwide interest in the biologically active substances in coconut oil that are being identified to provide nutritional value and pharmacological effects. Why the new buzz and new attitude about coconut oil? Here is what I found.
Coconuts and coconut oil have been used for centuries as a vital natural whole food choice in tropical regions.
In the 1930’s Dr. Weston Price traveled throughout the South Pacific examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim despite the high fat concentration in their diet.
In the 1940’s farmers tried coconut oil to fatten their animals but discovered that it made them lean and active and increased their appetite. Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid.
Prior to World War II coconut oil was popular as both a cooking oil and as an ingredient in numerous food products. During World War II the Japanese occupied the Philippines and other South Pacific islands, cutting off our supply of coconut oil. Consequently, American manufacturers created the new vegetable oils to fill the need The vegetable oil industry used advertising to condemn the use of tropical oils, particularly coconut oil, while promoting vegetable oil as the healthier alternative. Saturated fats which are found in coconut oil were being blamed for raising cholesterol and being responsible for the steep rise in heart disease.
By the end of the 1950’s public opinion had turned against saturated fats like butter and coconut oil.
In 1981 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied two populations where coconut was the chief source of caloric energy. Both populations exhibited positive vascular health. They were healthy in spite of saturated fat consumption. There was no increase in cholesterol levels. (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957).
In 1987 Lim-Sylianco published a 50 year literature review showing the anti-cancer effects of coconut oil. In chemically induced cancers of the colon and breast, coconut oil was by far more protective than unsaturated oils. 32% of corn oil eaters got colon cancer whereas only 3% of coconut oil eaters got the cancer.
Clinical studies done at New England Deaconess Hospital show that coconut oil is neutral in its effects on blood lipids and will not cause an increase in cholesterol or cause cardiovascular disease (Norton et al 2004). Coconut oil even increased the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) reducing the risk for coronary heart disease.
Coconut Oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA’s). Medium-chain fatty acids help to increase metabolism and are more easily digested than fats found in other oils. This is because they are processed directly in liver and immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. Because of MCFA’S easy digestion there is less strain on the pancreas. Coconut Oil is helpful to our most vulnerable populations the new born and the critically ill. The medium- chain fats in coconut oil are considered so nutritious that they are used in baby formulas and in hospitals to feed the critically ill.
Coconut Oil contains lauric acid a MCFA which is also found in breast milk and is responsible for strengthening a newborns immune system. Research is showing that the lauric acid in coconut oil is one effortless way to help strengthen your immune system.
Current research shows that coconut oil:
- Promotes heart health — does not increase cholesterol, but actually helps lower it.
- Promotes weight loss — does not turn to fat in your body.
- Supports your immune system — fights disease.
- Raises metabolism — burn more fat and have more energy.
- Immediate energy source
- Supports thyroid function
Ways to use coconuts:
- Drain the milk from a coconut and use in a smoothie.
- Eat as a food, crack open and enjoy the coconut meat.
- Use as a cooking oil.
- Use as a lotion for your body it helps keep connective tissues strong. (Purchase as a lotion or use the coconut oil).
- Coconut oil rubbed in your hair and scalp before you shampoo will soften your hair and condition your scalp. (May alleviate dandruff.)
What to look for when you purchase coconut oil:
- You will probably only be able to find coconut oil in a health food store or online.
- Look for labels that say organic and unrefined.
- Coconut oil is solid at 76 degrees F and will turn to liquid over that temperature.
- Your coconut oil should smell like coconut.
So what health experts are saying now is enjoy coconut oil: No guilt, No cholesterol, No trans-fat and many healthy benefits.