Coconut Oil is a popular addition to the athlete, physique competitor and health conscious consumers meal plan, for good reason. Virgin Coconut Oil, an effective antioxidant, raises core body temperature, helps increase satiety (the feeling of satisfaction after eating), does not store in the body, helps produce ketones (leading to increased energy), and may even reduce symptoms of Alzheimers (4). As a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT), it has been shown effective for weight loss and muscle mass preservation as well as helping the body absorb vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients (1,7). MCT’s are noteworthy dietary fats due to their many benefits, including immediate use, which has been shown to enhance fat burning (1). MCT’s have a lower calorie content than other fats and they behave metabolically similar to carbohydrates, producing ketones which can be rapidly used in place of carbohydrate for both energy and brain function (6). MCT’s have also been shown to help delay the aging process and would be beneficial to people who are aging or ill (4).
Due to its high saturated fat content (roughly 92%) there have been many negative reviews of Coconut Oil (2). However, evidence suggests very positive results of its consumption as it contains antimicrobial lipids, the most prominent being Lauric Acid. Half of the saturated fat in Coconut Oil is Lauric Acid which has been shown to improve HDL levels (the good cholesterol) (3). Another great thing about the oil is that the human body converts Lauric Acid into Monolaurin which is known by researchers to strengthen the immune system and help rid the body of virus and bacteria (3).
One tablespoon of Coconut Oil contains 117 calories, 14 grams fat (0.2g polyunsaturated, 0.8g monounsaturated and ~12 g saturated fat), and no vitamins or minerals (3). You will find several varieties of Coconut Oil (which are not nutritionally equal) available for purchase. The preferred versions for cooking and consumption are either Organic Virgin Coconut Oil or Virgin Coconut Oil as these are less processed and refined, making the oil more pure and healthy (5). Virgin Coconut Oil comes straight from the milk and meat of the coconut, thus the antioxidant and medium chain fatty acids remain while organic Virgin Coconut Oil is processed in the same manner, using organic coconuts (5,8).
Coconut Oil (which should be stored at room temperature) is usually solid until around 76 degrees Fahrenheit but can melt quickly. It can be consumed in many ways; some people add it into their morning oatmeal while others cook and bake with it in place of any other oils and butter. Due to its level of oxidation, and high smoke point, Coconut Oil doesn’t lose nutritional content (when used for cooking and baking) like other oils do.
If you are just beginning to use Coconut Oil, start by adding it to your foods in small doses, as a sudden large addition is known to cause gastro intestinal issues until the body is accustomed to it. However, over time, Coconut Oil consumption has been shown to actually improve the digestive system!9I personally use Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil on a daily basis, and can attest to its prescribed benefits. I add it to my oatmeal, eggs, and vegetables and I use it to cook and bake foods. I am not suggesting that you clean out your pantry, dump the olive oil and switch entirely to Coconut Oil, as you would lose the benefits of other oils and fats. I do, however, recommend that you give Coconut Oil a try and see if you feel the energizing effects of it! You can purchase it in most super markets and online for a reasonable price, but make sure to purchase either the Virgin or Extra Virgin version!
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1) St-Onge, M. P., et al. (2003). Medium-versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women. International Journal of Obesity, 27(1), 95-102.
3) USDA National Nutrient Database: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/636?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=coconut+oil
4) Dayrit, C. S. (2000). Coconut Oil in health and disease: its and monolaurin’s potential as cure for HIV/AIDS. Indian Coconut Journal – Cochin, 31(4), 19-24.
5) Newport, M. (2010). Case study: dietary intervention using Coconut Oil to produce mild ketosis in a 58 year old APOE4+ male with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. 25th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).
6) Dayrit, F.M., et al. (2007) Philippine Journal of Science, 136(2), 121-131.
7) Babayan, V.K. (1987). Medium chain triglycerides and structured lipids (1987). Lipids, 22(6), 417-420.
8) Nevin, K. G., & Rajamohan, T. (2006). Virgin Coconut Oil supplemented diet increases the antioxidant status in rats. Food Chemistry, 99(2), 260-266.