If you’ve been reading enough of my blog posts, you know that I am a HUGE fan of coconut oil. Not only does it taste amazing, but coconut oil has beneficial healing properties that make it worth the extra fat calories.
Fats are made up of triglycerides, and each one varies in length and size. Triglycerides can have short chains, medium chains, or long chains. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are sometimes used as nutritional supplements for low birth weight babies to ensure adequate energy. MCTs may boost metabolism, which can be beneficial for those with low thyroid function. MCTs are also the primary choices of fat for those with liver disease and gallbladder disease, since those people have trouble digesting fat. MCTs do not require bile, and they need little digestive enzymes for absorption into the cells.
Coconut oil is one of my favorite MCTs. The majority of fat from coconut oil contains Dodecanoic acid, or lauric acid. Lauric acid is described as “soapy” in the flavor industry. The best description that I can relate to “soapy” is a thick, fatty mouthfeel with a cilantro-like aftertaste.
Studies have shown that lauric acid may raise HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol is the “good cholesterol” that swims through the blood stream and sweeps away “bad” LDL cholesterol (1).
Lauric acid also makes coconut oil a great antimicrobial and antifungal supplement. Monolaurin, which is derived from lauric acid, destroys the membranes of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Monolaurin can help fight a cold, the flu, fatigue, and fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot.
Monolaurin is naturally derived from two sources- coconuts and breast milk. This fact contributes to the idea that immunity is stronger in breastfed babies (2).
I use coconut oil on my skin and hair as a moisturizer. The oil penetrates cell membranes to repair damaged skin and hair follicles. The oil may also ward off dandruff!
Although coconut oil has a lower melting point than butter, it can be used as a 1:1 replacement in baking. Try to avoid refined coconut oils, as these items will have lost some of their amazing properties during processing.
1. “The Surprising Benefits of Coconut Oil.” The Dr. Oz Show. 29 Oct 2012. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil
2. “Monolaurin.” WebMD. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1149-MONOLAURIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=1149&activeIngredientName=MONOLAURIN