What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil originates from the oil palm tree named Elaeis guineensis and the coconut tree Cocos micifera by crushing and pressing opra in order to extract the oils. It is one of the major sources of nutritional fats. (2)
Coconut oil comes from the meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. It is used in food, medicine and in the industry.
Coconut oil is applicable in the cooking due to its high burning point, pleasant flavor, is solid at room temperature.
Biochemical Properties Of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, provitamin A, polyphenols and phytosterols.
Coconut oil consists of the fatty acids, caprylic acid (8%), capric acid (7%), lauric acid , (49%), myristic acid (8%), palmitic acid (8%), stearic acid (2%), oleic acid (6%) and 2% of linoleic acid.
Coconut oil is composed of approximately 90% of saturated fatty acids and 9% unsaturated fatty acids. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids (91 000), mono-unsaturated fatty acids (6 000), poly-unsaturated fatty acids (3 000).
Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids.
Amongst them, lauric acid (12:0) is the most abundant in coconut oil. Its derivate, monolaurin, makes around 50% of coconut lipids derived from fatty acids.
The high concentration of lauric acid allows their direct reabsorbtion from the gastrointestinal system into the liver. In the liver, lauric acid, and other medium chain saturated fatty acids, are rapidly activated in energy production. Thus, they are not involved in the byosinthesis and transport of cholesterol which labels them as cardioprotective lipids.(1)
Due to the fact that medium chain fatty acids are for the production of energy, their role is essential in infant supplements, such as formulas. They are as well widely used in nutritional fluids for athletes and intravenous lipid infusions.
Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil
- Coconut oil is potentially of benefit in cardiovascular disease prevention. It is also effective in a variety of chronic disease such as diabetes, carcinoma, hypercholesterolemia and thyroid disorders.
- Coconut oil has potent antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties, thus it may be useful as regimen in certain infectious diseases.
- Due to high concentrations of medium chain fatty acids, coconut oil may be useful for gastrointestinal disorders and malabsorption conditions.
- If fried, coconut oil, reactions such as oxidation, hydrolysis, isomerisation and polymerization are present that lead to the formation of certain substances that are potentially toxic to human health (3)
Virgin Coconut Oil
Currently, virgin coconut oil is attracting more attention due to its positive effects on health. It possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic attributes.
Coconut virgin oil decrease the levels of lipid in serum and tissues and LDL lipid peroxidation.
Its use may stimulate antithrombotic effects. The involved mechanism is the inhibition of platelet coagulation and low cholesterol concentrations.
Virgin coconut oil stimulates a reduction in abdominal visceral obesity(4).
The medium chain fatty acids increase energy catabolism and lead to more rapid satiety due to an increased expenditure of calories. Describe fatty acids lead to slower contraction of the stomach and its emptying.
Coconut virgin oil has more potent antioxidant activity than refined coconut oil. It stimulates antioxidant activity as well as lipid peroxidation in certain mouse models.
Further studies are required in order to determine its potential effect in the prevention of hypertension. To date, it has been shown that virgin coconut oil supplementation may prevent the raise in the blood pressure via decrease in endothelium vasoconstriction.
The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil decrease the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and aid to clearance of obstructed arteries, the mechanism that decreases the risk of heart and brain attacks.
Top Most Health Positive Effects
Coconut oil top most positive effects as follows:
1. it may enhance the function of immune system
2. it regulates coagulation factors and does not increase cardiovascular risk
3. it decreases the cholesterol and triglyceride levels due to high proportion of lauric acid that increases HDL cholesterol and LDL
4. its antifungal properties decreases inflammatory reactions caused by Candida species (antifungicid)
5. it may be helpful in diabetes I and II
6. it provides high performance energy
7. it Increases metabolism
8. it may be of benefit in hypothyroidism
9. it raises body temperature
10. it destroys various bacteria,viruses and fungi
11. it aids to weight loss
12. it preserves muscle mass
13.. it promotes ketosis.
1.Dermatology And Antiaging Positive Effects
- Vitamin E in coconut oil is essential for the hair and skin physiology and maintaining their quality.
- Its antioxidant and antiaging properties are due to high level of capric, caprylic, caproic acid and myristic acid. They may reverse the effects of macular degeneration, white hair and skin ageing.
- Coconut oil as well prevents peeling off the calf skin, therefore reducing the formation of dandruff.
- It Improves the course of certain skin diseases such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
2.Coconut oil in Alzheimer’s disease
Due to high levels of saturated fatty acids, especially medium-chain ones, that are easily absorbed and metabolized in the liver and converted to ketones, medium fatty acids are important for proper brain functions.
Ketone bodies represent an energy source for the brain. They are capable of decreasing the memory impairment, especially in Alzheimer’s disease.
Phenolic components and hormones such as cytokinins, found in coconut oil, prevent the accumulation of amyloid-β peptide therefore inhibiting the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (6).
- Wattanapenpaiboon N, Wahlqvist MW. Phytonutrient deficiency: the place of palm fruit. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003; 12(3):363-8.
- Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention.DebMandal M, Mandal S, Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar; 4(3):241-7.
- Gunstone F. Vegetable oils in food technology: composition, properties and uses. John Wiley & Sons; 2011
- An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. Liau KM, Lee YY, Chen CK, Rasool AHISRN Pharmacol. 2011; 2011():949686.
- Badlishah Sham Nurul-Iman et al. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 629329.Virgin Coconut Oil Prevents Blood Pressure Elevation and Improves Endothelial Functions in Rats Fed with Repeatedly Heated Palm Oil
- Fernando WM The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action. Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 14;114(1):1-14. 2015.