After last week’s diversion from the norm, I am back at it again today with a fantastic food that is sure to stir up some controversy. Today I wanted to talk about the delicious, and incredibly healthy coconut oil. The organic extra-virgin variety. Just like with olive oil, or any oil for that matter, the processing makes a huge difference and we want it as unadulterated as possible. You could make that statement for all food, but that is another story for another day.
Some might argue that it is too high in saturated fat, blah blah blah. The fact of the matter is, there is little to no direct evidence showing a cause and effect relationship between saturated fat intake (especially a naturally formed, non-fried or damaged version) and heart disease, despite 30 years of science trying to prove it. Regardless, the saturated fat in coconuts is quite distinct, as it is made up of medium chain triglycerides. These MCT’s are quite unique as they are do not require bile to be digested (if you have had your gallbladder removed, you will appreciate this), they are more readily used for energy rather than stored as energy, and in coconut’s case, are made up of 44% lauric acid. This is significant because lauric acid is one hell of a fatty acid. Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin in the body and it is known to be antiviral and antimicrobial. There have been many studies demonstrating this effect, an example of one from Wikipedia:
“A laboratory study investigated the effect of monolaurin on primary and secondary skin infections compared with six common antibiotics. In culture isolates from the skin infections, monolaurin showed statistically significant broad-spectrum sensitivity to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial isolates, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus spp. and Enterobacter spp.”
Interestingly MCTs are used in the treatment of people suffering from cystic fibrosis, AIDS, cachexia and childhood epilepsy. Not only that, there are many Pacific Island populations who subsisted on a huge intake of coconut, their diets being anywhere from 35-60% of calories from fat (mostly saturated), they were found to be nearly completely free of atherosclerosis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. For more reading on that topic, I refer you again to the Whole Health Source blog. He covers it in great detail.
Shredded unsweetened coconut is also a fantastic food, high in MCTs, fiber, potassium and more, so eat your coconut! Though some recommed many tablespoons per day, I think adding in 1-2 tbsp is more than sufficient. In conjunction with the extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, flax, nuts and the fat from animal sources, I think your fat intake will be taken care of.
Check out the BSP Training & Nutrition Newsletter!
You will get immediate access to:
- Weekly updates and exclusive content.
- The 20-page report "The Truth About Saturated Fat & Cholesterol."
- Become more awesome!