It’s one of my three favorite cooking oils (the other two are extra virgin olive and macadamia nut oil). It’s particularly great to cook with because it has a high smoke point (450° F) and a low degree of “oxidation” (which is what happens when good fats turn bad and become unhealthy!). Plus it’s delicious. And it supports your immune system.
Coconut Oil Benefits
Ninety-two percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, but they are in a particularly healthy class of fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides (M.C.T.s). The predominant medium-chain triglyceride in coconut oil is lauric acid, which has been shown in countless studies to be antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral.
The fatty acids in coconut oil are powerful antibiotics. According to well-known naturopath Bruce Fife, N.D., who devoted a book to the subject, bacteria known to be killed by the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil include streptococcus (throat infections, pneumonia, sinusitis), Staphylococcus (food poisoning, urinary tract infections), neisseria (meningitis, gonorrhea, pelvic inflammatory disease), Chlamydia (genital infections, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, periodontitis), and Helicobacter pylori (stomach ulcers). In addition, there are at least a dozen pathogenic viruses that have been reported to be inactivated by lauric acid. Fife points out that another great thing about lauric acid is that it kills the “bad” bacteria but doesn’t harm the friendly intestinal bacteria that we need for healthy digestion. Medium-chain triglycerides also kill candida and other fungi in the intestinal tract, further supporting healthy gut ecology.
Coconut Oil Is a Natural Remedy for Wounds
With Antioxidant Powers In his seminal book Medicinal Plants of the World, the dean of American herbalists, James Duke, wrote that coconut and coconut oil are used as folk remedies to treat more than thirty-five ailments, from abscesses to wounds. And it’s well known that the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and also amino acids has been found to increase when infants are fed a diet using coconut oil. Coconut oil also has substantial antioxidant power. And populations that consume coconuts as a major part of their diets are rarely troubled by osteoporosis.
So do you need to worry about the natural, healthy saturated fat in coconut oil? I don’t think so, and neither do many experts. “Coconut oil has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol, even in situations where coconut oil is the sole source of fat,” said Dr. George Blackburn, a Harvard Medical School researcher testifying at a congressional hearing about tropical oils back in 1988.
“These (tropical) oils have been consumed as a substantial part of the diet of many groups for thousands of years with absolutely no evidence of any harmful effects to the populations consuming them,” says Mary Enig, Ph.D., one of the premier lipid biochemists in the United States and a former research associate at the University of Maryland. Even Dr. C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general of the United States, called the tropical-oil scare “foolishness.” Remember-the saturated fats in fast-food French fries and the saturated fats in healthy, natural foods like coconut and coconut oil are two completely different animals. Avoid the first like the plague, and enjoy the second to your heart’s content.
Some of the original bad press on coconut oil came from studies in which they used a hydrogenated, inferior product (loaded with trans fats) that behaves very differently in the body than the real thing. When buying coconut oil, go for the best: virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. It’s never hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, and it’s processed without high heat and chemicals.
(Source: 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden)