Coconut contains a high percentage of saturated fat. The fat content comprises 92 percent saturated fat, six percent mono-saturated fat, and only two percent polyunsaturated fat. The FDA recommends that less than 10 percent of an individual’s daily caloric intake should be from saturated fats, an issue that made coconut oil a controversial health food. However, today various health experts have found that consuming coconut oil is in fact healthy. It has been found that cultures with a high consumption of coconut oil generally have less illness. In addition, coconut oil is a good source of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), and lauric acid, which have been to shown to provide numerous positive impacts on one’s health, including the body’s immune system.
Studies conducted on native peoples whose diet includes coconut oil, or foods containing coconut oil, show that those populations are generally in good health, and don’t suffer as much from many modern diseases compared with the peoples of western countries where coconut oil is seldom consumed. It is also prominent and frequently used in vedic medicine.
The molecular structure of coconut oil is different from that of many other saturated fats, making it healthier for us to consume. Coconut oil is also high in MCTs or Medium Chain Triglycerides (62 percent), as opposed to other edible substances rich in saturated fats which are composed of a high percentage of LCVA (Long Chain Fatty Acids). MCFA is absorbed and used more efficiently than LCFA. MCFA also aids in the absorption and retention of naturally-occurring minerals in the body such as magnesium, calcium and some amino acids.
MCFAs that are present in coconut oil include: lauric acid, capric acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid.
The high concentration of lauric acid (50 percent) is another reason why pure coconut oil is healthy for you. Pure coconut oil is the most abundant natural source of lauric acid available. In the body, lauric acid is converted into a substance called monolaurin, which has anti-fungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. It disrupts lipid membranes in foreign organisms such as viruses, fungus and bacteria. Some of the viruses whose lipid cell wall membranes are usually destroyed by monolaurin include HIV, measles, herpes simplex virus-1, vesicular stomatitis virus, influenza and cytomegalovirus.
In conclusion – as mentioned earlier – populations that regularly consume coconut oil are generally in better health, and suffer less from many of the modern diseases prevalent in western countries where coconut oil is not normally prominent in the diet. By providing MCFAs which aid in the absorption and retention of minerals, and being a powerful source of lauric acid which functions in an anti-fungal, anti-microbial manner, fighting off diseases in the body, coconut oil is not only a healthy and safe part of one’s diet, it would be beneficial to take it as a supplement if not currently included.