Health properties of coconut oil
Coconut oil has a long history of use throughout the world as both a food and as a medicine. Over the past 50 years research has shown that coconut oil possesses unique properties with important nutritional and medical applications. Coconut oil is unique in that it is composed predominately of a special group of saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Although MCT are classified as saturated fats they do not contribute to cardiovascular disease. Evidence shows they may actually protect against it. Studies have shown that populations that use coconut oil as their primary source of dietary fat have very low rates of cardiovascular disease. Coconut oil is easier to digest than other fats, improves nutrient absorption, does not contribute to weight gain, stimulates metabolism, boosts energy, possesses potent antimicrobial properties, and improves energy metabolism in the brain. All these features suggest that coconut oil is a healthy choice with important nutritional and medicinal applications.
Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconut harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Throughout the tropical world it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations.
When Europeans began to explor the South Pacific in the 15th and 16th centuries one of the first commodities they brought back with them was coconut. In Europe the oil was used for food, fuel, and for making soap. Coconut oil provided a less expensive and cleaner alternative to animal fats. The oil made a good fuel for lamps and was especially valued in soap making because it produces a rich bubbly lather in hard water and even in seawater, unlike other soaps.
Today coconut oil and its components (fatty acids) are used in cooking and food preparation, infant formulas, enteral (tube feeding) and parenteral (intravenous) nutritional formulas for hospital patients, as carriers for transdermal delivery of medication, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral medications, skin creams and lotions, sunscreens, cosmetics, toothpastes, soaps and detergents, lubricants, biofuels, and numerous other p ...