Coconut oil: is it healthy for me to consume?

Coconut oil claims to be good for your hair and skin, so why not your inner body also?  Also, the people who live on islands who live off of the coconut fruit seem to be healthy. Yes, I have seen men climb up a tree like a monkey in Central America and just crack the coconut open for lunch.

Coconut is easy to grow. Like Bamboo, palm trees grow easily and supply us with coconuts in warm climates. Palm seeds travel between islands and root themselves and grow coconuts, which makes it a sustainable oil.


The coconut fruit has many forms we can use it for cooking and baking.  As the owner and head cook of a culinary company, I use the milk, oil, and meat of the coconut frequently to make our creations.

Yes it has been a controversial fruit but it has solidifying and melting point properties that are necessary with gluten free and vegan cooking and baking. Gluten and eggs are proteins that bind food, for example in baking. If you remove them, they must be replaced. You cannot always use xanthan gum or guar gum. Coconut oil is a binder for items we make recipes such as cakes or ganache. Coconut oil melts at 76 Fahrenheit, therefore if you combine the oil with the recipe and allow it harder and keep it below 76F degrees, you have your recipe!  


My family, including my mother, who is a Registered Dietician, believe, as long as you are not allergic, all foods in moderation are acceptable for a healthy lifestyle. I have many food allergies, some of which my son also inherited from me, so I have to watch carefully what we prepare in the kitchen. 


Looking at packages in my kitchen, cow butter has 8g saturated fat, vegan butter has 7g saturated fat and coconut oil has 13g saturated fat. There are no trans fatty acids in any of the above, at least not in the USA, where is became law in the year 2020.  If we eat coconut oil in moderation, like any other food we are healthy, correct?


 Is coconut oil healthy?

We could do a cohort study where people from around the world keep a diary. At the beginning, we measure their white fat cells and count their brown fat cells. Additionally, measure the subjects LDL and HDL. At the end, we could measure their white fat cells size and see if they increased. Also, measure subjects LDL and HDL and see if they changed. Also count the remaining brown fat cells.  If the study subjects have a lower LDL level and the fewer brown fat cells, we could conclude that coconut oil may not be good to consume for our health.

 Without personally conducting this study, if a person only eats coconut oil once in a while, it can be added to your Healthy Food List! Lets find out why.

 Coconut oil is very rich in medium-chain fatty acids of chain length 8 to 12. Coconut oil contains about 92 percent saturated fatty acids. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 116 calories, 13.5 grams of total fat, 11.7 grams of saturated fat, 0.8 grams of monounsaturated fats, and 0.2 grams of polyunsaturated fats. Coconut oil is composed of the fatty acids, caprylic acid C -8:0 (8%), capric acid, C-10:0,(7%), lauric acid C-12:0, (49%), myristic acid C-14:0(8%), palmitic acid C-16:0 (8%), stearic acid C-18:0 (2%), oleic acid C-18:1 (6%) and 2% of C-18:2 linoleic acid.



Claims about Coconut oil:

-       is often perceived as a good source of medium-chain triglycerides ( MCT) and medium-chain free fatty acids. Some animal studies have concluded that MCTs raise metabolism and promote weight loss, but preliminary human studies are not supportive at this time.

-       useful in the prevention and treatment of dental caries, atopic dermatitis, and hair damage.

-       evidence from population who consume substantial amounts of coconut also seems to suggest that consumption of coconut oil is beneficial.

-       beneficial effects of coconut oil on weight loss, cardiovascular diseases, bone loss, and glycemic control among others but larger clinical intervention studies are warranted.

-       Linoleic acid is essential to the body because it is used to make certain prostaglandins and the fatty acids eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

-       Capric acid, another fatty acid found in coconut, also has antimicrobial activities.

-       Lauric acid is known to possess antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal qualities. It is converted to the monoglyceride monolaurin in the human or animal body. 

-       Tocopherols are the natural antioxidants present in coconut oil. The digestibility coefficient of coconut oil is higher (with 91.0% assimilable glycerides) than any other fat, including butter, and so it is digested more rapidly than any other fats. This easy digestibility makes it an essential ingredient for many ghee substitutes.

-       Early studies conducted in experimental animals fed a synthetic diet containing coconut oil as the source of fat have shown it to be atherogenic, since it is deficient in essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acid deficiency is known to facilitate the development of atherosclerosis. Feeding coconut oil at normal levels along with other fats adequately supplemented with linoleic acid renders coconut oil neutral in terms of atherogenicity.

-       Feeding coconut oil results in an increase in HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is in your blood. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered “good” because this type carries bad cholesterol away from the arteries. 

-       Recent studies have shown that the presence of natural coconut fat in the diet leads to a normalization of body lipids, protects alcohol damage to the liver, and improves the immune system's ant-inflammatory response. However, the consumption of saturated oil, which coconut oil has much of, could hasten the onset of cardiac problems, as suggested by certain research studies.

-       Coconut oil is needed for the good absorption of fat and calcium from infant formulas. Hence, it has been recommended in infant formulas.

-       Coconut oil is a rich source of saturated fatty acids, and short- and medium-chain fatty acids account for 70% of these fatty acids. It has a low content of unsaturated fatty acids with a negligible content of both n:6 and n:3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a low n:6/n:3 ratio (< 4). The highly resistant nature of coconut oil to oxidative rancidity is attributed to its high concentration of saturated fat and low unsaturated fatty acids. This quality makes it suitable for storage without deterioration.





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