Coconut Oil v/s Other Oils
The health benefits derived from coconut oil are unique and compelling. They are underappreciated today by the consumer. Studies which showed a rise in serum cholesterol by coconut oil ingestion usually only stated that coconut oil was not as effective at lowering the serum cholesterol as was the more unsaturated fat being compared. Later the positive effect of coconut oil over its serum cholesterol raising nature was justified as coconut oil did not drive cholesterol into the tissues, which in return showed up with an increase in the serum cholesterol levels as compared to the other unsaturated oils.
Coconut oil contains less than ten percent unsaturated fats. This makes it the most stable oil not requiring the need to be made stable. In contrast, certain vegetable oils containing good amounts of polyunsaturated fats need to be partially hydrogenated in order to make them stable. Partial hydrogenation produces trans fatty acids that cause elevation in cholesterol Clinical studies done at the New England Deaconess Hospital (NEDH), a Harvard medical school affiliate, show that coconut oil is neutral in its effects on blood lipids and does not cause an increase in cholesterol. At the same time coconut oil increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the “good cholesterol”, further reducing the risk for coronary heart disease. From a plethora of research reports, it appears that there is lowering of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic on the incorporation of coconut oil in the diet.
Biologically active substances naturally occur in plants and when the oil is extracted from oilseed, most of these substances are present in the oil.
As plant product, coconut oil contains biologically active substances which have been identified to provide various health benefits. Although studies may take years to probe the pharmacological effects of these substances, there is growing interest worldwide on the role of these biologically active substances in health and disease. Tocopherols, known as potent antioxidants, have a role in the prevention of certain chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer. Tocotrienols, said to be better antioxidant than tocopherols are effective in treating many ailments.
Phytosterols have been known to lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol. Phospholipids are important emulsifiers and essential constituents of cells. MCT is a good source of energy to the sick, convalescent, healthy individuals and also to preterm infants. Phytochemicals are linked to cancer prevention and mono- and diglycerides as antimicrobial and antiviral substances. Flavonoids (isoflavones) and other polyphenols, stanols help in preventing some chronic diseases.
- Enig, M.G. “ Health and nutritional benefits from coconut oil and its advantages over competing oils” Director, Nutritional Sciences Division, Enig Associates Inc., Maryland, USA, Indian coconut journal, September 2010
- Carandang, E.V. “Health benefits of virgin coconut oil” Indian coconut journal, January 2008
- Experts’ Findings on the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
- Sahelian, R. “Coconul Oil health benefit and nutritional value, review of research studies”