Think olive oil is good? Coconut Oil is supreme!

So many times when I train competitors or clients, the first fat I add to their diet is coconut oil. Usually they look at me dumbfounded and I get “Why” or What the hell”. Well to clear that up we are going to go over the many health benefits of it and how it relates to you.

The health benefits of coconut oil include hair and skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, cardiac problems, dental care, and bone strength. Coconut oil is largely comprised of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and has properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial, soothing, plus many more.

Composition

Coconut oil consists of more than ninety percent of saturated fats with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. At this point you’ve probably thought I’ve lost my mind and you are about to stop reading. STOP!! That’s mistake number one. Look below at the composition of coconut oil.

  1. The Saturated Fatty Acids: Most of them are Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are supposed to assimilate well. Lauric Acid is the chief contributor, with more than forty percent of the share, followed by Capric Acid, Caprylic Acid, Myristic Acid and Palmitic.
  2. The Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Linoleic Acid.
  3. The Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: Oleic Acid.
  4. The Poly-phenols: Gallic Acid, which is phenolic acid. These poly-phenols are supposed to be responsible for the fragrance and the taste of Coconut Oil and Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in these poly-phenols.
  5. Certain derivatives of fatty acid like Betaines, Ethanolamide, Ethoxylates, Fatty Esters, Fatty Polysorbates, Monoglycerides and Polyol Esters.
  6. Fatty Chlorides, Fatty Alcohol Sulphate and Fatty Alcohol Ether Sulphate, all of which are derivatives of Fatty Alcohols.
  7. Vitamin-E and Vitamin K and minerals such as Iron.

The Politics of Tropical Oils
Containing large amounts of saturated fat, coconut oil has to be frowned upon by the FDA right? So why has coconut oil gotten such a bad rap in the recent past? After all, much of the research supporting coconut oil as a healthy fat has been around for some time. The answer is politics and economics. Coconut oil was heavily used in the US at one time, being used for baking, pastries, frying, and theater popcorn. But starting in the 1980s some very powerful groups in the US, including the American Soybean Association (ASA), the Corn Products Company (CPC International) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), began to categorically condemn all saturated oils. Faulty science was used to convince the public that ALL saturated fats were unhealthy, when in fact saturated fats rich in the medium chain fatty acids, like lauric acid, are very healthy. Breast milk is composed of high amounts of lauric acid. Wasn’t bad for you then and certainly not now. Saturated fats are good for you, just the right ones. Not the heavily processed crap we in America consume daily.

On to the many benefits of coconut oil and how they apply to you.

Hair Care: It helps in healthy growth of hair providing a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams.

Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage can aid in removing mental fatigue.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care. You can even use it to prevent sunburn. Think of that next time you are stranded on an island like Man vs. Wild.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful, vegetable oil fats are though. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis(hardening of arteries).

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases(enzymes your pancreas produces to digest your food), thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight. Hence you see the application to training and preparing for shows. This is a must for ketogenic dieting. I cannot stress that enough. No need for medium-chain triglyceride powder or liquid. Here it is, all natural and without maltodextrin like MCTs contain. That’s right, read the label, they all contain maltodextrin.

Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. It kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important . These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Magnesium also has many benefits in muscle building as well.

Dental Care: Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium, coconut oil also may stop tooth decay.

Athletics: Finally, coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes. Being a natural source of MCTs, it cannot be beat. Its use in aiding digestion and absorption are key factors also. Whether you are gaining or losing weight, digestion is important and absorption is too. You can take in all you want, but if your body cannot break it down and absorb everything it needs, what’s the point. It is all for not and you’ll feel horrible or be spending a lot of time in the bathroom.

If you have any further questions, please comment and I will reply shortly.

Mike Ross

PharmD, SFN

4 responses to “Think olive oil is good? Coconut Oil is supreme!

  1. Very good write up on the benefits of coconut oil. While I think extra virgin olive oil is great, I think people seem to get set in their ways and not look into other forms of oil for EFA’s. I’d like to see more health markets in our area (Quincy, IL) carry this but it seems to have not “caught on” as of yet. Again, thanks for the article. Keep them coming.

    Shane Reis

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