Key Components Of Coconut Oil.
Coconut oil is plant-based fat made from processing the husk or flesh from mature coconuts. Coconut oil has become an incredibly popular alternative to other fats including, butter, olive oil and rapeseed oil.
Coconut oil has use in a variety of applications, such as hair care, oral hygiene, skin protection and most commonly, cooking.
Often regarded as a 'healthy' oil, There is much debate over how healthy coconut oil truthfully is; with some seeing it as a well-marketed fad, and others regarding it to be the next best thing in health. So, which side of the coin lays claim to the truth?
The 3 components of coconut oil.
Coconut oil, like all pure oils, are made up of 100% fat. 1 tbsp of coconut oil contains 117kcal, 13.6g fat, 0g protein 0g carbs. Most oils, especially those that are considered to be healthy, contain more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than saturated.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are often considered to be healthy fats that promote mental health, the lowering of cholesterol and improving general well-being. Saturated fat, on the other hand, is linked to increased bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Saturated fats are unhealthy fats.
Coconut oil contains around 10x more saturated fat than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which at face value, doesn't seem very healthy at all.
The fat composition of coconut oil:
Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, in fact, a single tablespoon contains 60% of the recommended daily amount. The saturated fat found in coconut oil is made up of 7 different fatty acids:
Lauric acid is the fatty acid responsible for coconut oils 'bad fat' status. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol, the leading cause of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
There is slightly less than 1g of monounsaturated fat in a tablespoon of coconut oil. The monounsaturated fat found in coconut oil is made almost entirely out of oleic fatty acid. Oleic acid is the superstar ingredient usually associated in the Mediterranean diet and olive oil. Oleic acid is thought to fight cancer, reduce bad cholesterol, promote heart health and increase lifespan.
Polyunsaturated fat is only found in small quantities in coconut oil, around 0.3g per tablespoon; however, the polyunsaturated fat found in coconut oil is comprised entirely of linoleic acid, which is responsible for a lot of the healthy claims surrounding coconut oil.
Linoleic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid and, as such, is highly beneficial for brain function, as well as healthy bone, nail and hair growth.
It should also be mentioned that linoleic acid is an essential acid, meaning that the body does not produce it naturally, and needs to acquire it through diet in order to maintain health and proper functionality.
Coconut Oil In Diet.
Although coconut oil has a range of uses, it is used predominantly as a cooking oil. Due to the mix of both good and bad fats, there is a lot of debate around whether or not coconut oil should be welcomed into the diets of those following a healthy eating plan.
Is it healthy to cook with coconut oil?
The saturated fat content of coconut is enough to scare even slightest health-conscious individual, so how can coconut oil ever be considered to be healthy.
There have been studies to suggest that the benefits from the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, outweigh the negative repercussions of the saturated fats.
In a recent study, a large randomized group of middle-aged adults were given either 50g of butter, olive oil or coconut oil every day for 1 month.
The results saw the coconut group show a significant increase in good HDL cholesterol that lowers blood pressure and no increase in bad LDL cholesterol that increases it.
Olive oil showed similar results and the butter group showed an increase in LDL cholesterol and minimal adjustment in HDL.
Coconut oil to reduce sugar cravings.
Coconut oil is known to be a fantastic hunger suppressant and reduce cravings of sugar. This is because when ingested the medium-chain fatty acids are sent straight to the liver, where the energy becomes available almost immediately.
This instant energy boost is similar to that of sugar and simple carbohydrates but without the blood sugar and insulin spike. This results in a quick increase in energy, suppression of sugar cravings and both with little effect on weight gain.
As well as a means to reduce sugar cravings, you can also use coconut oil for an energy boost. The way that the calories and nutrients in coconut oil are absorbed is incredibly fast – resulting in a fantastic, rapid boosts in energy.
There is also some evidence to suggest that coconut oil can improve energy levels through the day with regular use.
The abundance of medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are broken down into ketones when metabolised. Ketones are used by brain cells as fuel. High levels of ketones can be dangerous, but at ideal quantities, they can be very beneficial for the body.
Coconut oils brain healing properties are not it's only claim to fame.
Other coconut oil healing uses:
- Mending and rehydrating dry skin
- Fixing chapped or split lips
- Prevention of split ends and hair alopecia
- Fixing cracked heals
- Soothing the digest tract
The Bottom Line.
Coconut oil is a popular plant-based fat that's quickly gunning for the top spot on the list of healthy oils. Extracted from either the husk or flesh of mature coconuts, there is a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not coconut can truly be considered a healthy oil.
Full of both healthy unsaturated fats and unhealthy saturated fats, it's easy to see why people are hard to convince. There are, however, many studies that suggest that the benefits of the healthy fats, outweigh the negative effects of the unhealthy fats, significantly.
Coconut can be used not only as a healthy cooking oil that can improve good cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease; but also to reduce sugar cravings, boost energy levels quickly and help the brain to heal itself and develop.
Coconut oil is a healthy oil that is useful for a range of applications, if used in moderation it can be an excellent addition to the diet to improve the mind, body and soul.