Coconut Oil & Metabolism
By Jayton Miller
Coconut oil is trending in health circles today due to its range of health benefits across the board. Keep reading to learn all the benefits of this so-called superfood...
- What Is Coconut Oil?
- What Makes Coconut Oil Healthy?
- Refined Vs Unrefined Coconut Oil
- Where To Find Good Coconut Oil
What Is Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is made through the compression of either fresh or dried coconut meat (also known as copra). As the meat is compressed the oil is pushed out of the meat leaving behind the oil.
Virgin coconut oil typically uses fresh coconut meat while the refined version comes from the dried meat. The difference between “virgin” and “extra virgin” doesn't really matter when it comes to coconut oil as the terms are not regulated like they are when it comes to olive oil.
What Makes Coconut Oil Healthy?:
Some of the benefits of coconut oil include:
- Increased Metabolic Rate
- Antimicrobial Effects
- Increased Sense Of Satiety / Decreased Hunger
- Improves Brain Function
- Fights Inflammation
Coconut oil is made up of primarily short and medium chain fatty acids of the saturated variety that the body can easily metabolize, reducing the possibility of harmful by-products being produced. Because these short and medium chain fatty acids are so easy to metabolize they are preferentially used for energy production over the longer chain fatty acids that are harder to move around and get into the mitochondria.
The reason that these short and medium chain fatty acids are so easy for the body to metabolize isn’t just because of their small structure. These fats do not have to be digested with bile salts, meaning they can go straight to the liver to be used as an energy source.
There is also a possibility that the “preferential” use of these fats (due to their ability to be easily metabolized) can mitigate the amount of unstable unsaturated fats that become oxidized.
One of the main fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid has been shown to be responsible for most of the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and ant-viral effects that come with the ingestion of coconut oil. This is one reason that coconut oil can be used on your daily carrot salad, as it helps increase the antimicrobial qualities of the carrots.
Refined VS Unrefined Coconut Oil:
When it comes to the different types of coconut oil it is best to opt for the refined version. Unrefined coconut oil contains microfibers that can be irritating the gut. The refined version of coconut oil has these microfibers removed from it. Opting for the refined version of coconut oil mitigates the potential for gut irritation.
76 VS 92 Degree Melt:
Not many people know that you can get coconut oil with different levels of saturation (saturation simply means that the molecule has more hydrogen atoms allowing it to be more stable).
76 Degree Melt coconut oil is your average coconut oil that you can pick up at your local grocery store, and this is a great option as you will still get the benefits mentioned previously. However, if you are looking to be as optimal as possible then getting a fully hydrogenated coconut oil is going to be best.
Hydrogenation is a bit misunderstood in mainstream ideology. Hydrogenated vegetable oils create trans fatty acids, which are extremely detrimental to your health, but this is actually just partial hydrogenation. Getting a fully hydrogenated coconut oil means the hydrogenation process (addition of hydrogen atoms to the molecule) has gone to completion and the fat becomes extremely saturated and stable.
Fully hydrogenating the coconut oil and making it even more saturated results in an oil that is extremely stable at high temperatures. This is actually ideal if you ever plan on frying any of your food, using fully hydrogenated 92 degree melt coconut oil to ensure that you do not oxidize the fat while you are burning it at high heats.
Where To Find Good Coconut Oil?:
If you are only able to go to your store and pick up coconut oil, that is fine, and will work well. Especially if it is organic. Two of the best places to find coconut oil are the following:
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Overall, coconut oil is one that I would recommend to most people, and would even put into the category of a “superfood.” Although it isn’t as nutrient dense as something like ruminant liver, the ability for coconut oil to have so many benefits for your health makes it nearly impossible to avoid this food.