The coconut, especially coconut oil, is one of those foods whose health benefits or detriments remain a subject of controversy. Some argue that the high levels of saturated fats in coconut can lead to heart disease, weight gain and other health problems. On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence supporting the many health benefits of this mighty fruit.
So is coconut good or bad?
Although many people believe all saturated fats increase the risk of heart disease, we must understand that not all saturated fats are the same. It is true that the coconut does contain a large amount of saturated fat, but the plant-based saturated fat found in coconuts have a completely different biochemical makeup than the saturated fat found in animal products.
Unrefined coconut and extra virgin coconut oil has been shown to improve heart health. Many people can’t imagine how a food high in saturated fat, like the coconut, can be beneficial for the heart. The coconut helps protect against heart disease by increasing good cholesterol thus lowering the ratio of bad and good cholesterol. Coconuts contain lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, as well as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) which do not lead to an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Coconuts have also been shown to improve the digestive system and thus prevent various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconuts have antimicrobial properties which can help control the bacteria, fungi and parasites that cause indigestion and irritable bowel symptoms.
Extra virgin coconut oil can also be a helpful tool in your weight loss efforts. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. Coconut is easy to digest and it helps in the healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. It also helps to increase body metabolism and energy because it is more likely to be burned as fuel than stored as body fat.
Coconut, in moderation, is not harmful to your health. On the contrary, coconuts contain properties that have been shown to help in a wide range of ailments from heart disease to Alzheimer’s. Although high in fats, the saturated fat found in coconuts should not be classified in the same category as the saturated fat found in animal foods. Unrefined unprocessed coconuts and extra virgin coconut oil contain disease-fighting phytochemicals that are only found in plant-foods. It is a nourishing superfood packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.