Is coconut oil the real Deal?
Vitamins and food supplements with coconut oil as the basic ingredient are not uncommon these days. They are available in supermarkets, health food stores and even drugstores. People all around the globe have been enamored by the so-called ‘superfood’ — and the Philippines is no exception since coconut trees are abundant in the country. But what is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is extracted from fresh or dried copra (meat) of the coconut. According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), there are four types of coconut oil. Crude oil is the brownish-yellow oil extracted from copra. It is not yet edible because it contains impurities. Cochin oil is higher in quality than crude oil and has a lighter colour. It is chemically refined and bleached but not deodorised. RDB is the refined, bleached and deodorised coconut oil that is also used for cooking. RDB is free from colouring, odoriferous and flavoured substances.
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is extracted from fresh, mature coconut oil and has no chemical content. Extraction and filtration of VCO is done in a natural way; thus, it retains its vitamin E content. VCO is water-white and is used in food supplements.
Coconut oil has a high content of lauric acid and other shorter chain acids. This allows the oil to have various uses, both edible and non-edible. Coconut oil can be used for making soaps, cosmetics, fuel extenders, toothpastes, paints and even explosives. It can also be used for cooking oil, margarine, cheese, coffee creamer, spray oil and salad oil.
The abovementioned applications of coconut oil definitely make it a very versatile product. Testimonials and claims have also been made by users on the wonders of VCO to their health. Avid promoters of coconut oil even say that it can cure any ailment, including cancer.
But despite these positive evaluations, you might still be skeptical of the healing power of coconut oil. To help you clarify your doubts about coconut oil, here are some of its health benefits based on previous researches:
Helps with weight loss
The fatty acids of coconut oil can reduce feelings of hunger, positively affecting your body weight in a long term. In a study of six men who were fed different amounts of medium chain triglycerides (present in coconut oil) and long chain triglycerides (absent in coconut oil), those who ate more MCTs also consumed 256 fewer calories on average per day.
A similar study of 40 women with abdominal obesity who took a daily dose of 30ml coconut oil over a 12-week period showed a major reduction in their waist circumference. Twenty obese men who also underwent the same dosage registered a 1.1 inch reduction on their waist circumference after four weeks.
Good for the brain
Coconut oil contains 90% saturated fat. Saturated fat in coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These turn into ketone bodies that improve cognitive function and may slow or even reverse neurodegenerative diseases like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease during their early stages.