Coconuts get a lot of bad press. There is a widely held misconception that their saturated fat content raises cholesterol and piles on the kilos. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Modern research has found that coconuts act in quite the reverse. Saturated fats are now recognised as essential to health, with no automatic negative impact on bad cholesterol or retention of fat. (The villains of the fat story are actuallyTrans Fatty Acids, of which naturally harvested coconut oil contains none.)
Saturated fats come from animal sources, as well as coconut and palm oils. Unsaturated fats come from other plant oils. So what makes the saturated fat from coconuts so special?
It is the size of the fat molecule. Regardless of whether they are saturated or unsaturated, most animal and plant fats are Long-Chain Fatty Acids. Fats from coconut oil however are Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs).
MCFAs are more readily digested and utilized by the body for energy. The fast metabolism of coconut fats sees a quick conversion of fats to energy without taxing the digestive system.
This is great news for diabetics as well as those wishing to lose fat. Coconut oil helps regulate insulin levels in the blood, increasing the sensitivity of the cells to insulin and speeding up metabolism. (Insulin resistance of the cells is one of the underlying causes of obesity and diabetes.) Positive outcomes can include appetite suppression and burning of stored fat from within the cells.
As coconut oil has greater solubility in biological fluids than other fats, digestion of coconut oil places less of a burden on the liver, pancreas and digestive system as a whole. In fact coconut fats are known to have a soothing effect on the intestinal system. Great for sufferers of IBS or Crohn’s disease.
Unlike their Long-Chain Fatty Acid cousins, the MCFAs in coconut oil have demonstrated a healthy action on thyroid function. Take that, soya bean!
And what of the calorie content of coconut oil? Coconut fats offer one of the lowest calorie counts of all fats, virtually no cholesterol, and better yet, no trans-fats common in commercially produced vegetable oils.
Coconut oil can help reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL), assist with weight loss, help increase energy levels, boost the body’s healing mechanisms, and provide a great tasting alternative to highly processed hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Not just the world’s skinniest fat. Also the world’s healthiest!