Researched by American Oil Chemists Society
Published in India Outlook
For the last three decades, there has been widespread misinformation on coconut and its properties. Maligned as saturated fat and an ‘artery-clogging oil’, there has been a wilful move to banish it from the traditional diets of people. But pause a while and reflect. People across the globe in 93 countries spanning six continents made coconut an essential part of their diet. They lived long and healthy without falling prey to the degenerative diseases prevalent today. Coconut oil was widely used in the manufacture of infant foods and as a shortening in the USA until the 1930s. So, should we not know more about the Perfect Health Nut which has nourished mankind for about 3000 years? Coconut has a history dating back more than 3000 years. The Ayurvedic Physician Susruta emphatically declared that coconut is good for the heart.
Coconut is hrudya or a cardiac tonic says a passage from the celebrated text ‘Susruta Samhita’. Coconut has been recommended for increasing the strength of people who suffer from debilitating disease. Ayurveda also recognizes the contribution of coconut to provide instant energy and improve muscular performance.
The genesis of the propaganda against coconut oil can be traced back to 1957 when researchers fed animals hydrogenated coconut oil (as the only fat source) naturally became essential fatty acid-deficient and their serum cholesterol levels increased. Diets that cause an essential fatty acid deficiency always produce an increase in serum cholesterol levels as well as an increase in the atherosclerotic indices. The same defect has also been seen when other essential fatty acids deficient highly hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed, soybean or corn oils have been fed indicating that this phenomenon is clearly the effect of the hydrogenated product. The reason for this phenomenon is either because the oil is Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) deficient or on account of Trans Fatty Acids. The conclusion that can be drawn from the animal research is that feeding hydrogenated coconut oil devoid of essential fatty acids, in a diet otherwise devoid of EFA, leads to EFA deficiency and paves the way for the formation of atherosclerosis markers. It is pertinent to note that animals fed with regular coconut oil had lower cholesterol deposited in their body.
Coconut oil helps you improve nutrient absorption. It improves the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium and thus aids in preventing osteoporosis. It also increases the absorption of some of the B vitamins, other fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K, beta-carotene) and some amino acids. Because it is easily digested, coconut oil provides a quick and easy source of nutrition and improves the absorption of other nutrients. Coconut oil has also been recommended in the treatment of malnutrition. The fats in coconut oil are easily digestible and converted into quick energy. And these types of fatty acids are less likely to cause obesity because they are immediately used by the body and have no opportunity to be stored.
Many diverse cultures, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows, people have learned of its importance as an effective medicine. For thousands of years, coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine. Traditionally coconuts were used to treat a wide variety of health problems including abscesses, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, constipation, earache, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rashes, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, and general weakness. More about the Perfect Health Nut.
A study has found that medium-chain triglycerides (MGM), the primary type of fat found in coconut oil can boost brain functions of people suffering from disorders as serious as Alzheimer's. According to a report in the latest edition of Indian Coconut Journal a mouthpiece of the Coconut Development Board, a single dose of as little as 40 ml coconut oil can cause an almost immediate improvement in cognitive performance in such patients.
Subsequent cognitive tests on the subjects revealed that those who took the MCTs had improved their performance. The research was also sparked by the five-year efforts of US-based Dr. Mary Newport, who claimed that she began seeing improvements in her husband's Alzheimer's after she started giving him four teaspoons of coconut oil per day. According to some scientists, coconut oil is a source of food that the body can easily convert into ketones, identified as a possible alternative to glucose as brain fuel.
Their explanation is rooted in the unique metabolic needs of the brain and in the configuration of MCTs themselves. Whereas the primary fuel source for the energy-hungry brain is glucose, when insulin resistance and suboptimal metabolism (hypometabolism) develops in the brain, both the brain's structure and function are compromised.
Estimated amounts of cholesterol in vegetable oils and animal fats
|Oil/Fat||Coconut||Palm Kernel||Sunflower||Palm||Soy||Cottonseed||Rapeseed||Corn||Beef Tallow||Butter||Lard|
|Range (parts per million)||5-24||9-40||8-44||13-19||20-35||28-108||25-80||18-95||800-1400||2200-4100||3000-4000|