Coconut oil is perhaps the most misunderstood fatty nutrient. Though, simplistically speaking, coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is important to distinguish coconut oil from the saturated fats that come from animal sources like meat and dairy products.
Saturated and hydrogenated fats are solid at room temperature. An exception to this would be coconut oil which is solid at low room temperature because it is saturated with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs assist with the rapid and complete metabolism of other dietary fats. In a lifestyle that includes regular, moderate exercise, MCTs insure that fat is used as an energy fuel for our cells rather than being stored. Coconut oil is an easy to digest source for MCTs.
Other benefits attributed to coconut oil:
It is stable – it does not go rancid even after being used to cook a food item and it tolerates relatively high-heat cooking without detriment. It is a formidable anti-oxidant – in a class with Vitamin E. It stimulates thyroid function, a key glandular player in the conversion of LDL cholesterol into useful hormones such as pregnenolone, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. All of these have key roles in our resistance to pre-mature aging and degenerative diseases. Another thyroid role is regulation of metabolism. Low thyroid function is associated with some types of weight gain. There is some evidence that coconut oil has anti-cancer and anti-tumor roles. This may be an extension of the documented high anti-viral activity of the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil, especially lauric acid. In fact, lauric acid – which occurs in large quantities in breast milk – is converted in the body to monolarin, a substance which has high anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoal properties. Coconut oil is a primary source of caprylic acid which is a well recognized remedy for Candida (yeast) over-growth.
It is important to use extra virgin coconut oil which is produced from fresh coconut flesh without high-heat or chemicals. Most commerical coconut oil is from dried coconut flesh; even if labeled edible, it has been Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized (a.k.a. “RBD”) and should be avoided.
Ayurveda favors moderate, consistant intake of natural, unrefined, organic, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats over saturated, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats. The favored fats are those that come from plant sources. These are ideally consumed int he form of whole food like coconuts, nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables – many of which have natural fatty components. When healthy fats are extracted from these whole food sources by pressing (not chemical extraction) the resulting oils are favored for cooking, salad dressings, desserts, etc. Most of the saturated fats in a healthy Ayurvedic diet come from light, fresh, organic dairy foods (cow or goat), which are consumed in moderate quantities by individuals who can digest them well.
For more information, please visit www.yourayurveda.com