The Coconut Miracle
Organic Virgin Coconut Oil: Product Spotlight
Coconut oil has become a phenomenon in recent years and its popularity is ever increasing. But what separates it from the crowd? As a nation we are more health-conscious than ever, and access to food from all over the world means we sometimes have too much choice. In this article I will discuss the many health benefits of coconut oil and the science behind them – letting you know just what it is that makes it such a unique, nutritional ingredient.
Coconut Oil: A Healthy Fat?
Coconut oil [also known as copra oil] is an edible oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. It is naturally free from gluten, dairy, sugar and cholesterol. Whilst it is predominantly made up of fat, it is the type of fat in coconut oil that its numerous health benefits can be attributed to. Although excess intake can lead to high cholesterol and even cardiovascular disease, some fats are not only beneficial but essential to our wellbeing. Whilst saturated fat has gotten bad press in the past, it is now better understood that some saturated fats are an imperative part of a healthy diet. The Department of Health recommends that saturated fatty acids should provide an average for the population of 10 per cent of total dietary energy. The key to ensuring adequate intake whilst avoiding weight gain and other undesirable effects, is to differentiate between ‘unhealthy’ and ‘healthy’ fats.
Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs)
Coconut oil is unique in that it is the best natural source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Coconut oil contains 64 per cent MCFAs and has a totally different effect on the body from that of the typical long-chain fatty acids found abundantly in meat and vegetable oils. Such fatty acids lead to weight gain when excess energy intake causes a build-up and so they are stored as fat tissue on our bodies. In contrast, the structure of MCFAs – such as those abundant in coconut oil – means that the fatty acids are broken down and used predominantly for energy production. Therefore, they seldom end up accumulating in arteries or being stored as fat on the body. In summary, whilst it may seem a bit of a paradox, consumptions of MCTs does not have a negative effect on blood cholesterol and have even been shown to protect against heart disease.
Lauric acid makes up almost 50 per cent of the MCFAs found in coconut oil and it has been suggested that it is the MCFA most beneficial to health. It is an extremely important nutrient and research has shown it to have strong antimicrobial properties. In addition to this, lauric acid has a positive effect on serum cholesterol in the blood. The mechanism by which this works is slightly complicated. Lauric acid causes an overall increase in serum cholesterol – more than any other fatty acid in fact. Although you might assume this would have a negative effect, it can be attributed solely to its effect on high density lipoprotein (HDL) – the so-called ‘good cholesterol’. It is the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein – LDL) which can cause the development of health problems. For instance, a low total to HDL serum cholesterol ratio correlates with a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the effect of lauric acid on overall cholesterol and associated health effects is extremely beneficial.
In summary, it is important to differentiate between fats and to recognise that not all fats are bad. Fat is an essential macronutrient and is just as important to our bodies as protein and carbohydrates. Consumption of natural sources of MCFAs, such as coconut oil, should not be avoided but encouraged.
Health benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is just as versatile a health promoter as it is an ingredient. It has been used for centuries by those who live on tropical islands with access to an abundance of coconut trees. Whilst there wasn’t research at the time to prove its effects, the natives were certainly onto something. Since the 1950s, countless clinical trials have supported the innumerable health benefits of natural, virgin coconut oil – including:
Improves serum cholesterol levels
- Promotes weight loss
- Boosts metabolism
- Anti-fungal properties
- Increases energy
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves digestion
- Source of essential fatty acids
Natural Nutrients Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
It is to be expected that when a product becomes so popular with consumers, many businesses will try and produce their own version of that product as they know there is a market for it. With food products, those trying to remain competitively priced have been known to sacrifice the quality of the product in order to keep costs low. Natural nutrients coconut oil is not bleached, refined or deodorised and so undergoes minimal processing. Coconut oil is extracted directly from the meat of the coconut and cold pressed before being packaged. Our product is entirely organic and made from nothing but 100 per cent organic virgin coconut oil. This means that our customers get all of the nutrition with nothing added – the purest, best quality product we could possibly offer. What’s more, we source our organic virgin coconut oil from the finest palms of Sri Lanka – an area hit hard by the Tsunami back in 2004. Coconut oil exportation in this area is helping to rebuild the community and economy – so everyone’s a winner!
You can find our coconut oil on our website > https://naturalnutrients.co.uk/shop/all-products/organic-virgin-coconut-oil/
- Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601. doi: 10.1007/s11745-009-3306-6. Epub 2009 May 13.
- The coconut oil miracle – Bruce Fife C.N, N.D 2004
- The coconut odyssey Mike Foale the bounteous possibilities of the tree of life
- Dietary reference values DoH
- Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-? on cortical neurons in vitro – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24150106 [but mouse model cannot exactly be extrapolated to human advice without further research]
- Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058