Coconut Fats, according to Honest Research

Coconut

Coconut oil (or coconut “anything” for that matter) is pretty underrated.  As a plant source of saturated fats, many people have steered away from it in their diet at their health’s expense.  Understandably, this has a great deal to do with established guidelines against saturated fat. However, there are many benefits to including coconut into your diet (“including“, not dominating because we all know variation and balance is key).  They also contain electrolytes, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  Actually, coconut water contains the same amount of electrolytes in human plasma and has been used for plasma transfusions.

• 50% of coconut fat is lauric acid, a rare fatty acid in nature; it is actually the highest percentage than any other substance on Earth (also found in Mother’s milk). Lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that destroys lipid-coated viruses like HIV, herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa (like giardia lamblia). It has been conclusively studied as such.
◦ This conversion and destruction reduces the strain on the immune system by fighting these viruses and reduces the amount of inflammation through these efforts;  pretty much, the monoglyceride spares immune response by attacking these menaces on its own
• The types of fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and are unique because all of our other types of fatty acids, either polyunsaturated or unsaturated, are mostly of the long-chain variety.  Since the number of carbons present in the backbone of the MCFAs are less than long-chain fatty acids (hence, the “medium-chain” name), they do not require enzymes for them to be broken down for a trip across the cellular membrane in the intestine.
◦ Once absorbed, MCFAs are immediately converted into energy instead of being stored as fat like other fatty acids.  LCFA’s not only have to be enzymatically broken down, but they also travel through our bloodstream prior to being deposited into fat or converted into energy (as a secondary source).
◦ Through my own deduction, less enzymes needed to make energy available means less use of certain enzymes and, therefore, less free radicals being created through their use and production.  Less free radicals equals smaller chances of inflammation.
• The MCFAs in coconut oil help the brains of those with Alzheimer’s receive the necessary energy that it needs.  This theory is based upon the brain’s alternative use of ketones as an energy source when the mainstream routes (glucose) are broken.  In the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, there is a hypometabolism of glucose in brain regions that affect cognition and memory.  Without this component of metabolism, the brain will seek alternative sources of energy, but if there are none available, then there can be metabolic issues in the brain’s cells.  There are two ways in which the body can signal the generation of ketones in the body:  fasting and the presence of MCFAs.  By providing the mild to probable Alzheimer’s patient with an alternative source of energy through MCFAs (40 gram dose in a study), there was an increased performance in recall within two hours, suggesting the addition of energy to the starving brain cells (Henderson, 2008).
◦ The ketone bodies created from MCFAs also assist the brain in a chaperone-mediated autophagy.  This is a neuroprotective effect because lack of autophagy in brain cells promotes neurodegeneration (Henderson, 2008).
Thanks for letting me share this information.

Yes, I am aware of the established guidelines.  I have seen where they come from, who funds them, and how it is in the funding sources financial interest for coconut oil to remain stigmatized. So, in the mealtime, my nutrition labels in dishes that contain coconut oil may alarm some of you with the saturated fat content. Then I have to go through and make a note on each one of them why there is no cause for alarm. Our outdated guidelines are making my job of bringing people to an ultimate state of wellness more difficult. Get with the times!

I still think that there is more to the little coconut than meets the eye and while honest researchers have demonstrated this, it remains blocked by the money machine.  Of course, I am not advocating a strict coconut diet, but coconut can replace many things such as dairy products.  Consumption of coconut milk and oil in lieu of cow’s milk and butter can definitely reduce the chances of inflammation if a person maintains a balance within the rest of their diet, especially if they are lactose-intolerant.

But hey, don’t tell this to the researchers hired by DuPont nutrition, which sells polyunsaturated fat based products. According to them “I’d put coconut oil on my skin, but that’s about all it’s worth (insert pompous chuckle here)”.

I suppose I’d laugh to suppress my guilt as well. Or, perhaps they are all just researching as they are hired to do, blissfully unaware that other published research says that they are wrong. By applying basic critical thinking skills, we can see that there is no reason to conclude that coconut based saturated fat is as bad as, say, saturated fat from red meat, or hydrogenated oils. Yet, that is what informs our public policy.

Stay skeptical, my friends.

References:

 

 

  • Henderson, S. (2008).  Ketone bodies as a therapeutic for alzheimer’s disease.  Neurotherapeutics, 5(3), 470-80.  doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nurt.2008.05.004
  • Maury, W., Price, J. P., Brindley, M. A., Oh, C., Neighbors, J. D., Wiemer, D. F., & … Nikolau, B. (2009). Identification of light-independent inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection through bioguided fractionation of Hypericum perforatum. Virology Journal, 6101. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-101
  • Mercola, J. (18 Nov 2013).  Countless uses for coconut oil – the simple, the strange, and the downright odd.  Mercola.com.  Retrieved 17 Apr 2015 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/18/coconut-oil-uses.aspx

 

About Chef Brandon

bkaleChef Brandon Schlunt is co-owner of HealthSavor, a Cincinnati Ohio based healthy, organic, gluten-free meal delivery service, created to help busy families, individuals and children eat nutritious meals easily and affordably. Chef Brandon focuses on helping his customers lose weight, lower their blood sugar and feels very honored to have earned the trust of many doctors, students, parents, athletes, and on-the-go businessmen and women all over the city. In his non-existent spare time, Chef B enjoys music, hanging out with his daughter and fiance, and continuing his education in nutrition.

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