In his book “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill”, Udo Erasmus explains how “Essential substances, including healing fats, must be obtained in optimum quantities to build optimum health. His book also states that “Degenerative diseases that involve fats prematurely kill over two-thirds of the people currently living in affluent, industrialised nations.” See, not all fat is created equally.
[Just to be clear, “fat” and “oil” are essentially the same things (lipids), but fat is typically solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid.]
Natural coconut oil is made of 90 percent saturated fat, but the kind of saturated fat matters just as much as the amount. About half of virgin coconut oil’s saturated fat is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) that turns out to have a number of health-promoting properties, including the ability to improve levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
What does consuming the MCFAs in coconut oil mean for your body? Well, it is believed that we metabolise these fats in the liver and immediately covert them into energy to fuel our bodies, instead of storing them as fat. Coconut oil has been compared to carbohydrates for its ability to be “burned” for energy and since insulin is not involved in the process of digesting the MCFAs in coconut oil, you won’t get those carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level. This is especially good news for those of you concerned about maintaining blood sugar levels already in the normal range. According to The Wall Street Journal, the way our bodies process these MCFAs also makes coconut oil a good choice for athletes.
A Little History
Back in the 1930s, a dentist named Dr. Weston A. Price traveled throughout the South Pacific, examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim, despite the high fat concentration in their diet.
Since then, coconut oil became known as “the worst of the worst”, due to its high levels of heart-harming saturated fat. So did science make a mistake with the claims that tropical oils (such as coconut oil) are “killer fats” (as expressed in a major US advert campaign in the late 1980s)?
According to Tom Brenna, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, the answer is some combination of both. Not all coconut oils are created equal. The virgin coconut oil used in many raw food recipes is very different to the partially-hydrogenated fat found in junk food in the ’80s, which was highly-processed and contained trans-fats and other dangerous, cholesterol-promoting compounds.
“The older refined-deodorized bleached coconut oil causes rapid and very unhealthy looking rises in cholesterol, for sure, no doubt,” Brenna said in an email to HuffPost Healthy Living. “There is no evidence that that is the case for virgin coconut oil, which is available today but was not in the 1970s and ’80s when people were using RDB coconut oil.”
So, What Are Some of the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil?
#1 – Coconut Oil Aids Weight Loss
Researchers have discovered that in cultures where unrefined coconut oil is a part of the everyday diet, there is less obesity and less lifestyle-related disease.
In addition, one 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems. Researchers discovered coconut oil is easy to digest and also protects the body from insulin resistance.
#2 – Coconut Oil Boosts Heart Health
Cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. I guess this is the reason, statins (a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels) are now the most commonly prescribed medications in the UK. But are statins (with a long list of know side effects) really the “one size fits all” answer?
Researchers from the Weston A Price Foundation, a non-profit organisation that champion the consumption of traditional foods, explain that coconut oil has a very positive effect on cardiovascular health. They note how consuming the oil reduces measurements of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein, all considered markers of cardiovascular risk.
(Research from the University of Oxford also shows that if everyone over the age of 50 ate an apple a day, 8,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes could be avoided every year in the UK)
#3 – Coconut Oil is Great For Skin and Hair
Coconut oil is a good source of vitamin E which makes it an awesome moisturiser for skin and hair. And, it’s never too early to start using it – research has event shown that coconut oil massage has health benefits for babies!
As well as being a natural mosturiser, coconut oil is also an effective sunscreen, blocking out 20 percent of harmful rays!
#4 – Coconut Oil Helps Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Eating a diet high in fat could stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other signs of ageing, new research claims. Scientists discovered medium chain fatty acids, like coconut oil, were particularly effective. They believe the fats help slow down the ageing process, by helping to repair cells and DNA damaged as a result.
The study’s lead author Professor Vilhelm Bohr, of the University of Copenhagen, said: “Our study suggests that a high-fat diet can postpone ageing processes. A diet high in fat also seems to postpone the ageing of the brain. The findings therefore potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge.”
#5 – Coconut Oil Can Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
A study by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research found that coconut oil protects against insulin resistance, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. MCFA fats are small enough to be absorbed into the cells where they’re quickly converted to energy. It is this process that not only reduces the amount of fat we pack into storage, but improves insulin sensitivity.
- Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill – Udo Erasmus
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