With the demonising of saturated fats in mainstream media, many people have shied away from nutritional powerhouse foods such as egg yolks, butter, and fatty meat.
These foods are typically rich in essential vitamins and minerals while also providing a healthy fatty acid profile to help with numerous aspects of our health. However, they are all overshadowed by what is possibly one of the most nutritionally potent foods in the world – coconut oil.
Extracted from the meat and kernels of mature coconuts, coconut oil is comprised of around 86% saturated fat, giving it a far more stable molecular structure than unsaturated fats, and making it ideal for use in cooking.
Because coconut oil is predominantly made up of saturated fat, it can stand up to a fair amount of heat, light, and oxygen, meaning it is highly resistant to oxidization and causes significantly less free radical damage within the body.
So we’ve established that coconut oil is great for cooking, but what of the other benefits of coconut oil?
Medium-chained triglycerides, also known as MCTs or medium-chained fatty acids, offer all manner of incredible health benefits, including possessing anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
MCTs are also ideal for the more active amongst us as they are an incredibly efficient source of energy; due to their molecular structure, they can be absorbed through the small intestine and broken down in the liver without the production of bile salts being necessary.
This means that your body can utilize MCTs as quickly as carbohydrates, making them the ideal choice as a fat to be consumed before you work out.
Another interesting point is that much of the saturated fat contained within coconuts is lauric acid which is, again, an MCT. The next best source of lauric acid is human breast milk (!), and the only other relatively common source found in nature is red palm oil.
Lauric acid is incredibly effective at bolstering the immune system, which is why babies that are nursed on their mother’s milk tend to grow up healthier and with stronger immunity.
Coconut Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The saturated fat content in coconut oil actually helps your body to utilize more effectively by helping to increase retention within your tissues.
We’ve all been told to avoid saturated fat and instead opt for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, but without a correct balance of fatty acids in our diet, we can’t efficiently utilize the fats we do consume. This can result in an increase of inflammation, hormonal dysfunction, and fat gain.
Coconut Oil and Fat Loss
Given the numerous ways in which coconut oil helps to detoxify the body, reduce inflammation, and provide a quick source of energy, it should come as no surprise that it can make an incredibly powerful addition to your fat burning arsenal.
Coconut oil is known as being a thermogenic, which means that it causes the body to generate heat, thus using up more energy, burning more calories through the day, and resulting in a more pronounced fat burning effect.
A fat which makes you burn fat? Yes, you read correctly!
Furthermore, coconut oil provides a great deal of support to thyroid function which helps your body to increase its production of a chemical called thyroxin, thereby causing your body to release even more energy and boost your energy expenditure even while you’re at rest.
Of course, chugging litres of coconut oil every day isn’t going to do much for reducing your waist size, but incorporating 1-3 tablespoons each day should certainly be enough to get you started so that you can gauge the effects over time.
Non-Dietary Uses of Coconut Oil
As well as helping with weight loss, boosting the immune system, and cleansing the body of nasty toxins, coconut oil also has some application in areas other than the kitchen.
Applying coconut oil to your hair as a pre-wash treatment helps to keep your hair hydrated and supple, and using it as a massage oil is ideal for taking care of achy joints and muscles after a tough workout.
Coconut oil is also incredibly good for your skin, and can help to protect it against sunburn while keeping it wonderfully moisturised and preventing inflammation and irritation caused by shaving or insect bites.
For these reasons, many people like to buy two containers of coconut oil – one to keep in the kitchen for culinary uses and one to keep in the bathroom for hair care, skin care, and other cosmetic uses!
To wrap up things up, it should be noted that you need to look for virgin coconut oil, ideally in a container labelled as being organic.
Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated coconut oil at all costs because this is highly carcinogenic and will offer far fewer benefits than the cold-extraction, virgin varieties.