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Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a functional food, which simply means that it is a food that provides health benefits over and beyond the basic nutrients in the food. While it has gotten a bad rap in the past, coconut oil is now being promoted as a healthful food. Find out more.

Coconut Oil and Traditional Medicine

In traditional medicine around in the world, coconut has been used to treat a wide variety of health problems including abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumours, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.

Benefits of Coconut Oil in Modern Medicine

In modern medicine, coconut may have the following benefits:

  • kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, and yeasts
  • expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites
  • a nutritional source of quick energy
  • boosts energy and endurance
  • improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients
  • improves insulin secretion and utilisation of blood glucose
  • relieves stress on the pancreas
  • relieves symptoms and reduces health risks associated with diabetes
  • improves calcium and magnesium absorption
  • helps protect against osteoporosis
  • reduces inflammation
  • supports tissue healing and repair
  • supports and aids immune system function
  • functions as a protective antioxidant
  • supports thyroid function
  • supports the natural chemical balance of the skin
  • softens skin and helps to relieve dryness and flaking
  • prevents wrinkles, sagging skin and age spots
  • promotes healthy hair and complexion

Coconut Oil and Lauric Acid

Coconut oil has received a bad reputation over the past decades due to its saturated fat content, but research shows that not all saturated fats are alike. Coconut oil is unique in its structural makeup – it is the highest source of saturated fats at 92 percent but it also has the highest source of medium chain triglycerides (62 percent) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. Around half of these medium chain triglycerides are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system. Other than coconut oil, the only other source of lauric acid in high concentrations is in breast milk. Some saturated fat is actually necessary for human health and research has shown that medium chain fatty acids such as lauric acid help to increase metabolism, and they are more easily digested than fats found in other oils. Their digestibility is because they are processed directly in the liver and immediately converted into energy. As they have no opportunity to be stored in the body, they are less likely to cause obesity than other types of fats.

Lauric acid converts to the fatty acid monolaurin in the body. It has adverse effects on a variety of microorganisms in the body including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. It destroys the lipid (fat) membrane of such enveloped viruses as measles, herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), influenza, and cytomegalovirus (DMV). Capric acid makes up another 7 percent of the fat content of coconut oil and it also stimulates anti microbial activity in the body.

Coconut oil has antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal properties. By replacing other cooking oils with coconut oil, you can create a more favourable ratio of good to bad cholesterol in the body. Even though it is a saturated fat, it does not lead to high serum cholesterol or to higher rates of heart disease. In fact, in some studies, coconut oil has led to a decrease in total cholesterol.

How to use Coconut Oil

To get the protective benefits of coconut oil, it is simply a matter of including coconut oil or coconut products in your diet. This could be coconut oil used in cooking, coconut cream, coconut milk, desiccated coconut, or fresh coconut. You could also look for foods that have been made with coconut oil.

   Glossary term: Coconut Oil

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