food stores stock it with various labels from refined, unrefined, virgin, extra virgin, cold-pressed and
expeller-pressed. It is touted in the dietary world as ‘the miracle oil’ and classified as ‘superfood’
because of its amazing health benefits.
But, what is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is compressed from the dried meat or kernel of the coconut. The oil is extracted from the
coconut flesh producing 100% vegetable fat. It contains 90% of saturated fat called medium chain fatty
acids or triglycerides.
Yes, you’ve read it right. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat more than lard, butter and beef fat.
We all know that saturated fats are blamed for raising LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) thus
increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. But there are many types of saturated fats depending
on the number of carbon atoms in the molecule.
Coconut oil has smaller amounts of medium-chain fatty acids (6-12 carbons) compared to most of all
the animal fats and oil common in our diet. These have long- chain fatty acids (13 to 24 carbons).
According to Dr. Walter Willet of Harvard School of Public Health, half of the saturated fat found in
coconut oil is the 12-carbon variety called Lauric acid. Because of the small size of the fatty acids that
make up coconut oil, it requires less energy to digest and is easily absorbed by the liver providing a quick
source of energy. In fact, one tablespoon of coconut oil provides 505 kJ thus it is very energy dense.
So, should you include coconut oil in your diet?
Absolutely, according to Donnabelle Navarrete, registered Nutritionist and Dietitian at St. Luke’s Medical
Center, Philippines. She recommends using extra virgin coconut oil because of its relative ease of
absorption putting less strain on the pancreas and digestive system. Despite it being classified as
saturated fat, there is no problem using coconut oil as long as you use it within the fat requirement.
Coconut oil as Superfood.
The main saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil is Lauric Acid (medium chain fatty acid) which can also
be found in mother’s milk. According to Dr. Bruce Fife of Coconut Research Center, coconut oil is one of
the nature’s perfect foods alongside mother’s milk. The Lauric acid in mother’s milk protects babies from
illnesses and helps regulate the levels of blood sugar.
So what are the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil?
1. Coconut oil can lower blood cholesterol level 1
2. Boost brain function in patients with Alzheimers 2
3. Boost metabolism and aids in weight loss 3
4. The Lauric Acid in Coconut oil can kill microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi 4
5. Improve glucose tolerance and reduce body fat accumulation 5 , 6
6.Hydrates and protects the skin 7
10 Ways to use Coconut Oil everyday
1. Make some protein energy balls - blitz together fresh dates, melted coconut oil, raw cacao,
flaxseed meal, pistachios and chia seeds - roll into balls,coat in shredded coconut and refrigerate.
2. Add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil into your smoothie.
3. Use in stir fries, dips, salad dressing and baking.
4. Use on a piece of toast and sprinkle with ground nuts, cinnamon and honey.
5. Apply directly to skin as a body moisturiser to help with dry skin.
6. Mix a couple of drops of lavender oil and coconut oil to massage tired aching muscles.
7. Use to grease your pans and trays for baking.
8. Use as an exfoliating scrub- mix brown sugar or salt with coconut oil.
9. Use as a bath oil - add 4-5 tablespoons coconut oil to a hot tub.
10. Use as a lip moisturiser.