Coconut Oil

Understanding Unsaturated & Saturated Fat

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The most misunderstood and maligned nutrient is undoubtedly fat. Those three letters that are responsible for so much misery and marketing spell out the most powerful and energetically dense of all the macro and micro nutrients human beings and animals consume.

There are two main classes of food fats, which are sometimes referred to as “lipids” : saturated fats which are solid (think lard) and unsaturated fats which are liquid (think corn oil). Liquid oil, i.e. unsaturated fats can contain important components called EFAs and this makes them very, very important. Deficiencies in EFAs are associated with a myriad of health problems including skin issues, degenerative disease, impaired mental health and heart pathology name just a few. Because of the important role unsaturated lipids play in keeping the body strong and healthy, for most part nutrition-mined folks have rationally focused on getting enough those important fats while marginalizing, completely ignoring the significance of their saturated biochemical cousins.

Saturated FatUntil recently that is. In the past couple of years one the most important and functional, (not to mention tasty) of the saturated fats has been getting quite a bit of attention. Coconut Oil for many years vilified and verboten, a heavy, artery clogging, and cholesterol raising generally unhealthy fat, as it turns is not so bad after all. In fact there actually a lot to love about coconut oil!

Another three letters should come to mind when you think about coconut oil: M.C.T. . Coconut Oil is one of nature’s richest sources of MCT. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and it is very good stuff. And, coconut oil is 2 thirds MCT, which means in every teaspoonful you’re going to get 3 grams of MCT oil.

So why should you care about MCTs? Two words: weight loss! Well actually there are a lot of things MCTs are good for, they suppress your appetite you can use them for energy really quickly. They’re very satisfying and you’ll find yourself eating less food, and you’ll have more energy to do stuff.

Body builders love MCTs because they go right into the blood, for use they don’t need to be processed before they can be used. As opposed to the long chain fatty acids that comprise most of our dietary fats, MCTs are relatively inert; they don’t really affect digestive chemistry. That’s important, especially if the digestive system is stresses or impaired. MCT’s don’t require bile. For those sans gall bladder, a teaspoonful or two of coconut oil can be a very tasty way to make sure they’re getting fats. We used them alot in the pharmacy when I worked at University Hospital which was a regional center for digestive system health issues. Burt best of all, MCTs don’t get stored like other fats, they’re used! Which makes them an ideal source of fat nutrition for dieters.

And coconut oil has non MCT related features that make it so darn loveable! Most especially it tastes great. Roast some veggie in it and not only do you get stable oil with a high smoke point, and nutritional value, but you get all that in great tasting oil!

You can use coconut oil topically as a moisturizer or hair conditioner, it’s vitamin E content can protect skin and moisturize skin and hair protective and if you mix it up with a little honey or stevia and some fruit flavoring it has some great adult “entertainment” benefits too (use your imagination here!).

If you have a favorite way to use coconut oil I love to know about it. Please fell free to share it in the comments below.

Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

One 54-ounce jar of pure-white, USDA-certified-organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed from fresh coconuts within two hours of chopping; light true-coconut taste, aroma.

Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – 54 fl oz

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Coconut Oil and the Miracle Lipid that Burns Fat

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of my favorite nutritional supplements are medium chain triglycerides. Generally referred to as MCT oil, this largely unrecognized supplement imparts numerous benefits. MCT oil was first introduced almost 60 years ago as a tool for treating lipid disorders. MCTs are metabolized without bile and go directly to the liver where they are processed into a source of fuel. Thus they provide a good source of easily metabolized energy for patients with liver disease, gall bladder issues, those with bile deficiencies and other health compromised patients.

Coconut OilThey’re so effective that they’re the fuel of choice for hospitalized patients being fed intravenously in intensive care units. And MCTs may provide circulatory benefits too. A 2008 study published in The American Journal of Physiology found that MCT intake in rats with high blood pressure improved their cardiac function and structure.

Perhaps the most significant role MCTs provide for good health is in the realm of weight loss. Diet conscious health enthusiasts can benefit from MCTs unique metabolic chemistry in three ways. First of all, MCTs provide drive lipid biochemistry with 10 per cent fewer calories than ordinary fat. Secondly, MCTs are rapidly converted into energy. This means that they are much more likely than other fats to be uses as a source of fuel, rather than being stored. In this manner they function more like carbohydrates than fats. Yet, in contrast to carbs, they have no significant effect on insulin. This makes them an ideal source of energy for diabetics. Thirdly, unlike ordinary lipids, MCTs have been shown to increase thermogenesis (fat burning), which may result in an actual loss of calories.

In addition to providing weight reduction benefits, MCT oils have neurological enhancing properties. The fascinating fats been shown to increase the production of “ketones” which may provide benefits for senescent brains. Ketones are known as a potent and stable non-sugar source of energy to the brain. This makes MCT oils an ideal alternative brain fuel source for elderly and neurologically impaired patients, as well as diabetics (who are a much higher risk of age-related cognitive impairment), all of whom must be wary of the deleterious effects of sugar.

These unusual lipids have also been shown to increase the phospholipid levels in the brain which may provide additional cognitive benefits. And, interestingly, a 2009 study from the University of Toronto Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology found that supplementation with medium chain triglycerides improved the cognitive function in dogs and increased the level of omega-3 s in the parietal lobe of the brain, the section associated with the mental decline seen in human patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

Perhaps the most important food source of MCT oils is coconut oil. Besides being a wonderful ingredient for cooking, over half of the fats in this tasty oil are MCTs. If being used for its MCT content, a typical daily dose of coconut oil would be 2-4 tablespoons a day. Diabetics or Alzheimer’s patients can may want to take twice that much.

Occasionally, some patients find that coconut oil causes some stomach distress. Thus, when starting a coconut oil regimen, it’s probably best to start off using ½ to 1 tablespoonful a day and gradually work yourself up to a final 2-8 tablespoonful daily dose. Sometimes digestive discomfort from coconut oil can be alleviated by taking it with food. Other sources of MCTs include butter and palm kernel oil. Pure MCT oil is also readily available as a nutritional supplement in health food stores.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition