The Overwhelming Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Natasha Longo, Prevent Disease
Coconut oil has long received criticism because groups of nutritionists and scientists had incorrectly labeled it as a promoter of LDL cholesterol, which has since been exposed as not being “bad” at all. In truth, it never did increase LDL cholesterol, but it did increase HDL or good cholesterol. That distinction was never corrected in the mainstream press and the misconception still continues to this day. More research has now brought to light that coconut oil not only burns stubborn abdominal fat, but it also increases thyroid function, improves metabolic markers and is associated with considerable weight loss.
Government Agencies Are Usually Wrong About Nutrition
“Why the mainstream persists in this delusion of criticizing coconut oil is beyond the understanding of many in the natural food industry,” said raw food expert and retailer Ian Macdonald.
For example the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO), International College of Nutrition, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, American Dietetic Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA), British National Health Service (NHS), and Dietitians of Canada all simultaneously recommend AGAINST the consumption of coconut oil. Unfortunately, and against the better interest of the public, none of the above organizations have a track record of recommending healthy solutions for the general population, so Macdonald suggests that when these organizations recommend against something, “that is your cue to incorporate it into your diet, with proper research of course.” Coconut oil may be the perfect example.
A Unique Oil With Incredible Health Properties
50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on earth!
Nigel Turner and Jiming Ye from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research compared fat metabolism and insulin resistance in mice fed coconut oil and lard based diets.
“The medium chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are interesting to us because they behave very differently to the fats normally found in our diets,” said study leader Turner.
“Unlike the long chain fatty acids contained in animal fats, medium chain fatty acids are small enough to enter mitochondria – the cells’ energy burning powerhouses – directly where they can then be converted to energy.”
Coconut oil has a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.
These benefits of coconut oil are numerous. These include support for hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, increased immunity, proper digestion, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and even bone strength. But one of the areas coconut oil shines the most is in the area of improving metabolism, reducing body fat and aiding in overall weight loss.
Many people who have suffered with inflammatory conditions of the intestines like Crohn’s disease have successfully used coconut oil for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
The medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.
Study After Study Has Established That Coconut Oil Improves Metabolism and Weight Loss
An excellent study that reviewed many previous studies on this topic was published in the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 132, pages 329-332). This study was conducted by researchers at McGill University. They reported that several different studies have shown weight loss equivalent to 12 – 36 pounds a year simply by changing the types of oils used in everyday cooking and food preparation.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Lipids showed the effects of either 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or 2 tablespoons of soybean oil on a group of 40 women over the span of 28 days.
Results showed that the group that consumed the coconut oil had a decrease in abdominal fat, while the soybean oil group actually showed increases in belly fat.
Additionally, the group that consumed coconut oil showed increases in HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, while the soybean oil group had decreased HDL cholesterol and increased LDL cholesterol.
In another study in ISRN Pharmacology, researchers found that virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a cheap oil source containing high concentration of MCFAs which in the study had shown beneficial effect in reduction of waist circumference.
In obese men, 30 grams of coconut oil for 4 weeks reduced waist circumference by 2.86 cm, or 1.1 inches. The data also appeared to indicate that females in general lose more of their body fat withVCO and females with a lower BMI may lose more abdominal fat.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study where researchers investigated all studies relative to medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are abundant in coconut fat and weight management.
The studies showed that diets rich in fats such as those found in coconut oil prompted a boost in metabolism, increase in energy, decrease in food consumption, reduced body weight and lower body fat mass.
The study authors highly recommend using oils that contain MCFAs, such as coconut oil, as a tool to drop extra abdominal fat, manage a healthy weight, and even as a way to treat obesity.
Another study in the Journal of Nutrition found the effect of the addition of coconut oil to otherwise fat-free diets of rats resulted in the depletion of essential fatty acids in a shorter time interval and at a lower weight than when animals were fed a fat-free diet alone. In rats receiving diets deficient in essential fat acids, there was an increased cholesterol concentration in the liver and a decreased cholesterol content in the plasma after one week. However, although the condition was further aggravated thereafter in the animals on the fat-free diets, cholesterol levels of the rats receiving hydrogenated coconut oil in the diets gradually returned to normal.
Some studies indicate that MCFAs help increase feelings of fullness and lead to a reduction in calorie intake when compared to the same amount of calories from other fats. When MCFAs are metabolized, ketone bodies are created in the liver — these have been shown to have a strong appetite reducing effect helping you to lose fat faster. Researchers assessed body weight and fat storage relative to three different types of diets including a low-fat diet, high-fat diet with long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) and a high fat diet with MCFAs. In order to bring about weight gain, caloric intakes were adjusted for the diets.
At the end of the research period (which lasted 44 days), the low-fat diet group stored an average of 0.47 grams of fat per day, the LCFA group stored 0.48 grams of fat per day, and the MCFA group only stored a mere 0.19 grams per day (despite purposely increasing calories).
Those in the MCFA group (coconut fat) had a 60 percent reduction in body fat stored compared to the other diets.
Coconut oil is:
- Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
- Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
- Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
- Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
- Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
- An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
- Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
- Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
- Anti-retroviral (kills HIV and HLTV-1)
- Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
- Infection fighting
- Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
- Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
- Nontoxic to humans and animals
About the Author
Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.
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