Coconut oil is a plant-based saturated fat. Because it is 91% saturated fat, it has been wrongly blamed for high cholesterol and heart disease. We need fats for good health. Your brain is over 70 percent fat, and each and every cell membrane needs fat to maintain its permeability so that nutrients can get into the cell. Too many hydrogenated fats make cell walls rigid so that nutrients can’t pass through. The saturated fat in coconut oil is very different than what you’ll find in highly processed foods.
Coconut oil has been touted to promote many positive health effects like heart health, weight loss, immune system health, metabolism support, healthy skin and thyroid support.
Coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which can raise HDL, the good cholesterol. Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCTs) act differently the body than other fats. MCTs resemble carbohydrates more than they do fats. They break down more quickly, enter the blood stream faster and are taken directly to the liver, where they are used as an immediate source of energy. Less MCTs are converted to fat than longer fatty acids which most of our dietary oils are. This is not to say that one should replace all of their oil consumption with coconut oil. Since coconut oil does not contain any essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6 or 9) it is best to use a variety of oils in your diet.
Nutrition: The benefits of coconut oil are mainly from the nutrient value of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). The best comparison in nature as to the percentage of MCFAs being consumed in a diet is human breast milk. To equal the amount of MCFAs a nursing infant would receive in one day, an adult would need to consume about 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil a day according to researchers. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, the primary fatty acid in immunity boosting breast milk. Coconut oil has also been found to guard against insulin resistance, a major precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Uses: Coconut oil can be used in smoothies, desserts and sauces. As a dietary supplement you can take an ounce of coconut oil as a shot when you need an energy boost. Coconut oil is temperature sensitive and will harden in cooler temperatures and liquify in hotter temperatures. When you’re using coconut oil in a recipe, you’ll want it to be liquid so that it incorporates evenly. If your coconut oil is solid, scoop out the desired amount and warm it either in a dehydrator or in a bowl resting in another bowl of hot water.