During World War II, the Japanese military occupied the Philippines and other South Pacific islands. The once-plentiful supply of coconut oil was effectively cut off from the United States.
Although coconut oil had been popular both as a cooking oil and ingredient in numerous food products, the supply was interrupted for several long years. Manufacturers began to develop alternative sources of cooking oils, and the polyunsaturated oils phase was born. Butter, eggs and coconut oil were out.
The truth about coconut oil is obvious to anyone who has studied the health of those who live in traditional tropical cultures, where coconut has been a nutritious diet staple for thousands of years.
Back in the 1930's, a dentist named Dr. Weston Price traveled throughout the South Pacific, examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim, despite the high fat concentration in their diet.
Similarly, in 1981, researchers studied populations of two Polynesian atolls. Coconut was the chief source of caloric energy in both groups. The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrated that both populations exhibited positive vascular health. There was no evidence that the high saturated fat intake had a harmful effect in these populations.
Coconut Oil - Your Smart Alertnative to Other Oils
So, now that you have heard the history behind coconut oil's unfortunate "fall from grace", you should also know today's good news: coconut oil is finally beginning to get the respect it deserves as a smart alternative to other oils.
The many benefits of coconut oil are finally reaching the mainstream.
It's a Dieter's Best Friend!
If you live in the United States, you have a 55% chance of being overweight.
And, by now, I'm sure you're aware that obesity affects your quality of life and is linked to many health concerns.
- Promoting your heart health
- Promoting weight loss when and if you need it
- Supporting your immune system health
- Supporting a healthy metabolism
- Providing you with an immediate energy source
- Helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking
- Supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland
One of the best benefits of coconut oil lies in its ability to help stimulate your metabolism.
Back in the 1940s, farmers found out about this effect by accident when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock. It didn't work! Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry.
Now, I'm certainly not comparing you to a farm animal...
However, many animal and human research studies have demonstrated that replacing LCFAs with MCFAs results in both decreased body weight and reduced fat deposition.
So, by changing the fats in your diet from the unsaturated long-chain fatty acids found in vegetable or seed oils to the MCFAs in coconut oil, along with following an exercise plan, you may find yourself gradually losing those unnecessary pounds.
The reasons are simple:
- The long-chain fats nearly always go to fat storage, while the MCFAs are burned for energy
- Since coconut oil helps to stimulate your metabolism, you may burn more calories each day, helping to accelerate weight loss (and probably your activity and energy level, too)
Mercola.com survey respondents provided many examples of how coconut oil got them started optimizing their weight. Here are a few excerpts:
- "I lost about 24 pounds in 6-8 weeks"
- "I wasn't really overweight to begin with but I have lost some of my excess belly fat"
- "In conjunction with exercise and eliminating most starches from my diet, I have lost 45 pounds over the past 5 months"
- "I have been losing weight and body fat"
- "Besides the good taste, my weight seems to have stabilized"
Coconut oil has often been compared to carbohydrates in its ability to be "burned" for energy. However, since insulin is not involved in the process of digesting the MCFAs in coconut oil, you won't get those carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level. This is especially good news for those of you concerned about maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
In fact, the ability of MCFAs to be easily digested, to help stimulate the metabolism and be turned into energy has entered the sports arena. Several studies have now shown that MCFAs enhance physical or athletic performance.
Additionally, research has demonstrated that, due to its metabolic effect, coconut oil increases the activity of the thyroid. And you've probably heard that a sluggish thyroid is one reason why some people are unable to lose weight, no matter what they do.
Besides weight loss, there are other advantages to boosting your metabolic rate. Your healing process accelerates. Cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall.
A Fat? Or is it?
All fats are not equal.
And just so we're clear, the terms "fats" and "oils" are often used interchangeably, but fat is more correctly considered solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid. But what's really important is the structure.
The unique health benefits of coconut oil are directly related to its chemical structure, or more precisely, the length of its fatty acid chains.
Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs.
Coconut oil is nature's richest source of these healthy MCFAs.
By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs.
There are several reasons to explain why these long-chain fatty acids are not as healthy for you as the MCFAs in coconut oil:
- LCFAs are difficult for the body to break down -- they must be packaged with lipoproteins or carrier proteins and require special enzymes for digestion.
- LCFAs put more strain on the pancreas, the liver and the entire digestive system.
- LCFAs are predominantly stored in the body as fat. (That's why most people buy into the myth that fats are automatically "fattening".)
- LCFAs can be deposited within arteries in lipid forms such as cholesterol.
On the other hand, however, the MCFAs in coconut oil are more health-promoting, because:
- MCFAs are smaller. They permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require lipoproteins or special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body.
- MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system. This is especially important for those of you with digestive or metabolic concerns.
- MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.
- MCFAs in coconut oil can actually help stimulate your body's metabolism, leading to weight loss.
Coconut Oil's Miracle Ingredient: Lauric Acid
Yes, it's true. Nature still has a few miracles up her sleeve.
Breast milk is jam-packed with nutrients and disease-fighting ingredients that help keep babies healthy.
Well, incredibly, coconut oil contains one of the same compounds -- lauric acid -- found in mother's milk! And lauric acid is the predominant type of MCFA found in coconut oil.
Fortunately for our health, lauric acid in both breast milk and coconut oil transforms when consumed into a substance called monolaurin, the actual compound responsible for helping to strengthen the immune system.
Skeptical? So were a lot of scientists, who've proceeded to test the heck out of this substance.
In fact, a great volume of research has been done establishing the ability of lauric acid to enhance immunity.
What researchers found was that this medium-chain fatty acid derivative actually disrupts the lipid (or fatty) membranes of the offending organisms.
The lauric acid in coconut oil is one effortless way to help strengthen your immune system.
Surprise! Coconut Oil is good for your heart:
FACT: Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. And heart disease is often a silent killer. The first sign of cardiovascular disease is commonly a heart attack, and sadly, over one third of heart attacks are fatal.
And despite the propaganda, the truth is this: it is UNSATURATED fats that are primarily involved in heart disease, not the saturated fats, as you have been led to believe. As you saw earlier, countries that subsist on a coconut-based diet appear to enjoy good heart health.
The U.S. Department of Health and the FDA estimate that artificially hydrogenated trans-fats -- the type found in fast food, processed foods and your favorite pastries -- are ultimately responsible for a huge number of fatal heart attacks every year. These dangerous unsaturated fats are the ones you should ban from your diet, not naturally pure coconut oil, which is a better alternative because it contains very few fats with highly perishable double bonds -- and also has NO TRANS-FATS.
Plus, those commonly-used polyunsaturated fats encourage the formation of blood clots by increasing platelet stickiness. Coconut oil helps to promote normal platelet function.
Guess What? Your Skin loves it too!
Coconut oil is ideal for skin care. It helps protect your skin from the aging effects of free radicals, and can help improve the appearance of skin with its anti-aging benefits.
In fact, physiologist and biochemist Ray Peat, Ph.D. considers coconut oil to be an antioxidant, due to its stability and resistance to oxidation and free radical formation. Plus, he feels it reduces our need for the antioxidant protection of vitamin E.
Like Dr. Peat, many experts believe coconut oil may help restore more youthful-looking skin. When coconut oil is absorbed into the skin and connective tissues, it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep connective tissues strong and supple.
Coconut oil will not only bring temporary benefits to the skin, but it will aid in restoring your skin's youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. It also penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin to strengthen the underlying tissues.
To sum it all up, peek inside my pantry:
I must confess...
If you could peek inside my pantry, you would find two oils that I use in food preparation.
The first, extra-virgin olive oil, is a better monounsaturated fat. It works great as a salad dressing.
However, it is not the best oil to cook with. Due to its chemical structure, cooking makes it susceptible to oxidative damage.
And polyunsaturated fats, which include common vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola, are absolutely the worst oils to use in cooking. These omega-6 oils are highly susceptible to heat damage because of all the double bonds they have.
I strongly urge you to throw out those omega-6 vegetable oils in your cabinets. Why?
Reason #1: Most people believe that frying creates trans fats. That is not the major problem, in my opinion. Although some are created, they are relatively minor. There are FAR more toxic chemicals produced by frying omega-6 oils than trans fats.
Frying destroys the antioxidants in oils and as such oxidizes the oils. This causes cross-linking, cyclization, double-bond shifts, fragmentation and polymerization of oils that cause far more damage than trans fats.
Reason #2: They contribute to the overabundance of omega-6 fats in your diet, and the imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. As you know from my extensive writing on this subject, I believe that excessive consumption of omega-6 fats contributes to many health concerns.
There is only one oil that is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage, while it also helps you promote heart health, maintain normal cholesterol levels and even supports weight loss -- coconut oil.
So, whenever you need an oil to cook with, use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes. Even though I don't fully recommend frying foods, if you must fry, by all means use coconut oil -- it's your smartest choice.
Curiously, coconut oil contains the most saturated fat of all edible oils. We continue to be inundated by media portrayals of saturated fats as dangerous, but now you know better.