Oils and fats are composed of molecules known as fatty acids. Coconut oil is predominantly medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) and the effects of the MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from the long chain fatty acids (LCFA) found in other foods.
In fact, the saturated and unsaturated fat in milk, eggs, meat and even in plants and most vegetable oils are made of LCFA. Why is this relevant? It is important because our bodies respond and metabolize each fatty acid differently. It is the MCFA found in coconut oil that makes it special because these fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol. In fact, they are known to lower the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.
There are only few dietary sources of MCFA, and one of the best sources by far is coconut oil. The liver and gall bladder do not need to digest and emulsify MCFA, resulting in instant energy, increased metabolic rate and subsequently more heat production as well as increased circulation.
Coconut oil has many health benefits which are attributed to the presence of lauric acid.
When it is present in the body, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a compound that is highly toxic to viruses, bacteria, funguses and other microorganisms because of its ability to disrupt their lipid membranes and virtually destroy them. Breast milk is the only other source of lauric acid, which must explain the lesser incidents of infections with breast-fed infants. It has also been observed that regular consumption of coconut oil boosts immunity and reduces incidences of sickness.
Weight Loss – Medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil can speed up metabolism faster than long-chain fatty acids because they are easily digested and converted into energy. In fact, a study reported medium-chain fatty acids to be three times more effective in raising metabolism than long-chain fatty acids, leading researchers to conclude that effective weight loss can be achieved by replacing long-chain fatty acids with medium- chain fatty acids.
How much coconut oil should you be consuming in a day?
According to researchers, an adult should consume around 3 1/2 tbsp. of coconut oil daily: an amount equal to the MCFA a nursing infant would receive in one day. The benefits of coconut oil are derived from the nutritional value of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s), and the best comparison in nature as to the percentage of MCFA consumed in a diet is in human breast milk. For those who are not used to having coconut oil in their diet, it is best to start out with a lesser amount and see how the body reacts before following the recommended amount.