Coconut Oil


Coconut Oil Introduction

For thousands of years, coconut oil (CNO) has proven itself as a reliable dietary supplement. Its health benefits were recognized by various cultures living in tropical climates around the world. Today, its recognition as a practical nutritional supplement has never been stronger. Coconut Oil has broken through the unfavorable stereotypes and bad press, and has emerged as a likely therapeutic agent. It is now considered a highly effective functional food.

The important of fats in one’s diet cannot be overlooked. Medical research agrees that persons should obtain a minimum of 30% of our daily caloric intake from fats. This amount allows for critical metabolic functions to take place throughout the body. However, choosing fats that are physiologically beneficial can be a difficult task. There are saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat sources to choose from. Their hydrogenated derivatives are also of great concern. With so many oils that hold complex biological properties, who really has time to research all of these oils and fats, right? Many dietitians recommend extra virgin olive oil, organic or raw butters, and organic coconut oils. Yet, coconut oil may be the most beneficial choice for maintaining and improving one’s overall health and vitality.

The saturated fat content of coconut oil was previously scrutinized, and blamed for being an associated cause to diseases of the heart and multiple sclerosis. This theory, however, was predicated on the effects of hydrogenated coconut oil and not on virgin oils. Recent research does not equate coconut oil with the other saturated fats, as its structural make-up is unique. Coconut Oil represents one of the highest sources of “good” saturated fats. By labeling coconut oil as a “good” fat, it is important to realize that nearly 62% of its entire fat content is of the medium chain variety. Medium chain triglycerides contain many beneficial constituents, such as lauric and capric acids. In fact, the presence of lauric acid in coconut oil is so abundant, only mother’s milk is richer in this nutrient. All other commonly ingested dietary oils are absent in these medium chain fatty acids. Compared to all other oils and fats, organic coconut oil remains superior.

Replacing one’s normal dietary intake of typical fats and oils with the coconut variety has been shown to create a more favorable HDL/LDL ratio. And unlike other oils, coconut oils also exhibit no signs of rancidity. Applications for virgin/organic coconut oils include; energy production, weight loss, thyroid-stimulation, anti-aging, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial agent. [1] Coconut oil has, undoubtedly, been reaccepted as a beneficial functional food and is now considered a legitimate ingredient in a healthy diet.

Coconut Oil Food Sources

High quality coconut oils are available from numerous manufacturers. It is recommended that Virgin Coconut Oil products be purchased from a reputable manufacturer, and be made from organic sources which are not processed using high heat methods or with the addition of chemicals. Coconut oils are solid at temperatures under 76 degrees F and may be used as a cream or butter substitute. Above 76 degrees F, coconut may be used as an alternative to common cooking ingredients. Coconut is stable at extremely high temperatures.

Coconut Oil Uses

Weight Loss, Energy Production, Diabetes

Energy output is directly dependant upon metabolism. Medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil may enhance the body’s natural metabolic rate. The medium chain fatty acids found within coconut oil are very easily digested and offer the body a quick and affluent source of energy. Due to this rapid absorption, medium chain fatty acids may provide enhancements in endurance and exercise performance. [2]

The shorter acids of coconut oils are readily absorbed into the blood and energy-producing organelles of cells. They are not stored in adipose tissue like other oils, which contain longer chain saturated triglycerides. Research has indicated that by switching dietary oils to the coconut variety, persons may decrease weight gain and provide a reduction of existing fat deposition. [3-4]

The consumption of coconut oils may also be equally relevant to diabetics. By assisting in the energy supply to cells, coconut oil does not need to be absorbed by use of enzymes or insulin. It may also improve insulin secretion when activated, and aid in the stabilization of blood glucose levels. [5] Some researchers have even recommended increasing coconut oil consumption as a means to prevent the onset of Type II diabetes in adults. [6]

Immunological Functioning

Lauric Acid is the most predominant medium chain triglyceride found in coconut oils. It is formed into monolaurin in the human body and is considered a potent antimicrobial agent, among its many other actions. Monolaurin is a monoglyceride that exhibits antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal properties. [7] It may also assist in the degradation of other lipid-coated viruses including; herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, and other pathogenic bacterium. [1] In doing this, monolaurin does not adversely affected friendly intestinal bacteria. Coconut oil may also assist in eradicating certain yeast and fungi infections. Its relevance to human immunity is further illustrated in infant nutrition. Lauric acid is the prominent saturated fat in human breast milk, and is directly responsible for the development of immune system functioning.

Free Radical Protection

Antioxidants within human physiology are, in large part, determined by the nutrients we consume within our diets. Coconut oil may be an integral component in the protection from the oxidative stressors placed upon cellular membranes by free radicals. [8] Interestingly, the constituents found in dietary coconut oil actually reduce our body’s need for the fat-soluble vitamin E and assist in providing a more nutrient dense supplement with far greater antioxidant activity. Its effectiveness in combating free-radical damage is caused by both the antioxidant squalene and its relative purity. Sources of organic coconut oils remain unrefined and are not stripped of any of their natural components through the manufacturing process. Certain mammalian studies have also targeted coconut oil for it’s probable anti-cancer activities. [9]

Coconut Oil Dosages

The dosage of coconut oil varies and is dependant on the manufacturer and one’s desired use. Research has indicated that the most optimal dosages range from 3 to 4 tablespoons per day. This figure represents the amount of medium chain fatty acids a nursing infant would receive on a daily basis from mother’s milk. It is advised to include coconut oil in diet 3 times daily with meals, gradually increasing dosages until the desired therapeutic/protective effect is achieved. Below is a representation of average nutritional values for various coconut oils:

Nutritional Value Per 15 grams
Energy in kJ.Kcal 564 / 135
Carbohydrates 0
Sugars 0
Fat 15 g
Saturated of Which - 13.7 g
Medium Chain Fatty Acid Content per 15 grams
Caprylic C8 1.2 g
Capric C10 1.5 g
Lauric C12 7.2 g
Myristic C14 2.6 g
Long Chain Fatty Acid: Content per 15 grams:
Palmitic C16 1.4 g
Steric C18 0.3 g
Unsaturated Fat Content per 15 grams
N/A 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat Content per 15 grams
N/A 0.3 g

Coconut Oil Toxicities and Deficiencies

Coconut oil is not considered and essential nutrient; therefore there are no deficiencies of this functional food.  There have also been no reports of toxicities associated with the ingestion of coconut and other tropical oils.  Persons allergic to palm kernels and coconuts are not advised to ingest or apply any topical solutions containing coconut oils.  There have been reports of inflammation caused by allergic reactions in persons hypersensitive to these foods. [10]


1. Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. “Health and Nutritional Benefits from Coconut Oil: An Important Functional Food for the 21st Century,” Presented at the AVOC Lauric Oils Symposium, Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, 25 April 1996.

2. Fushiki, T and Matsumoto, K. 1995, Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by consumption of medium-chain triglycerides. Journal of Nutrition, 125:531.

3. Geliebter, A 1980. Overfeeding with a diet of medium-chain triglycerides impedes accumulation of body fat. Clinical Nutrition 28:595.

4. Baba, N 1982. Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium-chain triglycerides. Am J Clin Nutr. 35:379.

5. Thamppan, P.K. 1994. Facts and Fallacies About Coconut Oil. Asian and Pacific Coconut Community. p 15.

6. Sircar, S. and Kansra, U. 1998. Choice of cooking oils-myths and realities. J Indian Med Assoc. 96(10):304.

7. Kristmundsdottir T, Arnadottir SG, Bergsson G, Thormar H. Development and evaluation of microbicidal hydrogels containing monoglyceride as the active ingredient. J Pharm Sci 1999;88:1011–5.

8. Cross, C.E. et al. 1987. Oxygen radicals and human diseases. Ann Intern Med. 107:526.

9. Ngwenya BZ, Fiavey NP, Mogashoa MM. Anti-neoplastic action of peritoneal macrophages following oral administration of ether analogues of lysophospholipids. Eur J Cancer 1992;28A:1637–42.

10. Rosado A, Fernandez-Rivas M, Gonzalez-Mancebo E, et al. Anaphylaxis to coconut. Allergy 2002;57:182–3.


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