Perhaps you have always thought coconut oil was a bad thing… truth is, it is a really, really good thing. Considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts.
It also contains saturated fat — in fact, it is a whopping 90 percent saturated fat. Don’t let that scare you; although you may be convinced that saturated fat should not be touched with a 10-foot pole, coconut oil is healthy.
Although there have been over 60 years of negative public policy around healthy saturated fats, like those found in coconut oil, research and review of cultures that have used coconut oil for thousands of years tell a different story — healthy saturated fat can be highly beneficial.
3 fatty acids that your thyroid craves
The unique medium-chain fatty acid profile of coconut oil is what makes it stand apart from all other oils and gives it the ability to help the body self-regulate (something it is quite able to do).
These fatty acids, including lauric acid (found in a mother’s breast milk), are small enough that they can be gobbled up by the mitochondria in the cells. Because of this, they provide immediate energy for the body.
Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal substance. Because monolaurin is a monoglyceride, it can destroy lipid-coated viruses including measles, influenza, HIV, herpes and a number of pathogenic bacteria.
Another fatty acid that coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, also found in breast milk. Also known as octanoic acid, this saturated fatty acid has a number of health promoting properties and the innate ability to treat yeast-like fungus in the intestines.
Capric acid is present in very small amounts in goat’s milk and cow’s milk, but is abundant in tropical oils, including coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
It is a medium-chain fatty acid that has potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties. In the body, capric acid is converted to monocaprin, a form that can readily fight viruses, bacteria, and the yeast Candida albicans.
Because of this unique combination of fatty acids, coconut oil suppresses inflammation and repairs tissue while inhibiting microorganisms that cause the inflammation in the first place.
Not only can coconut oil keep infections at bay, it also helps to rev up your internal fat busters to help you maintain a healthy weight. Researchers have discovered that in cultures where unrefined coconut oil is a part of the everyday diet, there is less obesity and less lifestyle-related disease.
In fact, a culmination of studies done on coconut oil and metabolism has found that changing the oils you use every day can help you lose up to 36 pounds in a year. Yep… I said 36 pounds simply by switching unhealthy oils for coconut oil.
The shorter-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil burn quickly in the body. They are like small pieces of dry kindling added to a fire as opposed to a big damp log. The immediate transport of medium-chain fatty acids to the liver means the fat does not have to be transported through the whole body first and does not end up as fat in the blood, but instead remains accessible fat that can be used to power the body.
Medium-chain triglycerides also increase the rate at which the body burns fuel for energy. When you look at the lean and trim bodies of people living in the tropics — who make coconut a staple in their diet — this makes perfect sense.
A word of warning
I would be remiss not to mention the worst type of fat you should always avoid: trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil. Often included in so-called “low fat” foods, this fake fat is highly dangerous.
The main sources of trans fats are processed, baked goods and fast foods. You must switch to a whole foods diet if you want to help your thyroid. So, sorry, no more Twinkies, donuts, candy-bars or other snack items.
These types of fats raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, while reducing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. It is best to stay away from trans fats altogether — they offer absolutely no health benefits.
The inflammatory properties of these oils observed by some studies may well be due to the methods used in processing and packaging these oils, and not a property of the oils themselves.
The more natural a fat source is, and the less processing involved in its creation, the healthier it usually is. There are exceptions, such as the hormone-disrupting dangers of soybean oil. However, aside from these known “risk-factor foods,” when you choose natural, it is hard to go wrong.
How to add coconut oil to your diet
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use coconut oil for everything. It can replace all of the other oils in your kitchen. Raw, organic coconut oil remains solid at room temperature and does not break down during cooking.
You can fry with it, bake with it, drizzle it on foods, saute with it — and also put it on your skin, hair, nails etc… There is no shortage of ways to how coconut oil can truly improve your health — you can even add a tablespoon or so to your morning coffee for a great energy boost!
The days of badmouthing traditional saturated fats are quickly coming to an end. Read More