Coconut oil has quickly become one of the most sought after natural health products, as it gains a reputation for being a therapeutic oil. I’m asked all the time for my opinion on coconut oil, and really there’s so many good things to say about this fat, that I finally decided to create a resource…this post.
I’m an avid user myself, especially to maintain health when I’m training at a higher intensity. The type of fatty acid in coconut oil is called a medium chain triglyceride (MCT), which is well known as an energetic, functional fat source for athletes*
I use coconut oil exclusively for cooking as it is a saturated fat, which by nature is heat stable, and doesn’t oxidize (becoming a free radical) at higher temperatures (smoke point is 350 degrees). Of the saturated fat options, coconut oil is the cleanest, is plant based, and can be sustainably harvested.
I also often advise 1/2-1 tbsp in the morning for those who find it hard to eat in the morning, or often skip breakfast. With a better quality oil, it melts like a candy. There’s 120 calories per tbsp, 12g fat, and no cholesterol.
Let’s take a look at some of the best reasons to use coconut oil, and some of the experts on the topic:
- Helps with mineral absorption and skin tone: As a fat, it helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K. Saturated fats specifically, make up 50% of the cell membrane**. Quality saturated fats, like coconut oil should be used to maintain skin tone & integrity, especially as we age.
- Athletic benefits: The length of coconut oil’s fatty acid chain (medium) indicates that it is a quickly metabolized fat, which creates an efficient energy source (much like a carbohydrate). However, as a fat by nature, coconut oil also sustains a release of energy for endurance benefits.
- Supports immune function: Coconut oil is antimicrobial & anti tumor. It contains a conditionally essential fat called lauric acid, (plentiful only in coconut oil & breast milk), which is immune supportive.
- Can improve blood cholesterol: Studies have shown the ability for coconut oil to prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation (bad cholesterol becoming worse), and increase HDL (healthy) cholesterol.***
- Physical application encouraged: Apply directly to the skin for an instant, deep moisturizer, and can also be used as a lube! Check out the post on Joyous Health.
- Stable for cooking: With a smoke point of 350 degrees, coconut is one of the few oils that can withstand higher temperatures for baking or frying, without transforming or oxidizing.
- Weight loss: Coconut oil can help to improve body composition by efficiently converting fat into fuel because it is metabolized instantly in the liver, and enhances the movement of fat from storage*. It also keeps you full & satisfied and can help to curb a sweet tooth, as Health Coach Sarah Wilson advocates in her 8 week “I Quit Sugar” program.
- Great appendix, well credited author: http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/new-look-at-coconut-oil
- Mark’s Daily Apple: Primal Blueprint nutrition blog. Specific articles about the use of coconut oil, starting here.
- Weston A Price: The Skinny on Fats Article
- Proven Health Benefits of Saturated Fats. By Mary Enig (PhD) & Sally Fallon.
*Advanced Sports Nutrition. Dan Bernardot, PhD, RD, FACSM. Second Edition, 2012.