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Coconut Oil’s Nutritional Value Shows Its Superfood Properties

Coconut oil has a reputation for being unhealthy because it's mostly saturated fat. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Coconut oil is made up of mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which are actually healthier than the long-chain fats common in vegetable oils.

Dietary fats actually have many benefits! Fats from animal and vegetable sources serve as a concentrated source of energy from your diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.

Saturated fats are the preferred foods for your heart, which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated. They also protect your liver from alcohol and other toxins, and strengthen your immune system.

Fats slow down digestion of your meals so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A and for absorption of calcium and other minerals. and for a host of other essential bodily processes.

Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

All fats and oils, whether of vegetable or animal origin, are some combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In general, animal fats such as butter and lard contain about 40-60% saturated fat and are solid at room temperature.

Vegetable oils from northern climates contain mostly polyunsaturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils from the tropics are highly saturated. Coconut oil, for example, is 92% saturated.

Saturated fats have gained an undeserved reputation as being bad for your health, but this just isn't so. There is really only one type of "bad" fat, and that's trans fat, which is an artificially-made, unhealthy fat.

Long-Chain Fats vs. Short and Medium-Chain Fats

Researchers classify fats not only according to their degree of saturation, but also by their length.

Short-chain fats are always saturated. These fatty acids have antimicrobial properties; that is, they protect us from viruses, yeasts and pathogenic bacteria in the gut.

Medium-chain fats have also have antimicrobial properties. They are absorbed directly for quick energy; and contribute to the health of your immune system.

Long-chain fats can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

The unique health benefits of coconut oil are directly related to its chemical structure, or more precisely, the length of its fatty acid chains. Coconut oil is comprised primarily of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). It is nature's richest source of these. Most significant among them is lauric acid, something not found in any other source but mother's milk. In addition, coconut oil contains antioxidant properties of , Vitamin K, and minerals.

By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).

Benefits of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

The MCFAs in coconut oil are healthier than the LCFAs common in vegetable oils, for several reasons:

 

  • MCFAs are smaller, and more easily digested. They penetrate cell membranes easily and are utilized more effectively by your body.
  • MCFAs go directly to your liver, where they are converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.
  • MCFAs in coconut oil help stimulate your body's metabolism, helping with loss.

Disadvantages of Long-Chain Fatty Acids

On the other hand, long chain fatty acids have several disadvantages:

 

  • LCFAs are difficult for the body to break down – they require special enzymes for digestion. LCFAs put more strain on the pancreas, the liver and the entire digestive system.
  • LCFAs are predominantly stored in the body as fat
  • LCFAs can be deposited in your arteries in lipid forms such as cholesterol.

As this clearly demonstrates, saturated fats aren't worse for you than unsaturated fats. So don't avoid coconut oil because you've heard that it's bad for you. Discover more of the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and start using it today!

-By: Stan Mrak

Stan Mrak has had a passion for antiaging nutrition for over 30 years. Visit his website at www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com for the most practical and useful information on anywhere. Discover how hold the secret for staying young and avoiding degenerative diseases.

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