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27 Nov 2022, Edition - 2693, Sunday

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Health Matters

Why cooking with coconut oil is not just for people down south

Indrani Thakurata


Coconut Oil has long been a controversial subject among health care practitioners and nutritionists all over the world. And all these controversies are because of its high content of saturated fats that propagates heart diseases. According to studies and researches conducted, the results concluded that all saturated fats are not the same and nor do they behave the same.

Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, is the main saturated fat in coconut oil that counts to almost 50% of it. The only other substance that you can find such high content of lauric acid is a mother’s breast milk and we all are aware, how vital and important breast milk is for the overall health and development of an infant.

Saturated fats fall under several sub-categories and not all of them have the same bio-chemical effects on the human body. The saturated fat in coconut oil – as mentioned earlier – lauric acid, does raise cholesterol levels, but increases HDL, the healthy type of cholesterol that we all want to be high. The medium chain triglycerides in lauric acid are used directly by our body for energy. We aren’t supposed to know all this, especially with researches throwing up contradictory articles every now and then. So, it is best when an expert tells it all. Dietician Sheela Seharawat, Founder & chief mentor of Diet Clinic Health Care Pvt talks about coconut and why it should be your choice of oil. Read on…

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The Unique Composition of Fatty Acids of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is very different from other cooking oils and has a unique composition of fatty acids unlike others, for its high content of the saturated fat lauric acid, which makes up around 50% of its total fat content. This helps coconut oil to be highly resistant to oxidation at high heat and for this reason, it is very suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying. It is also relatively rich in medium-chain fatty acids, containing around 7% caprylic acid and 5% capric acid.
Concluding that coconut oil is rich in several types of saturated fats that are otherwise uncommon and these include lauric acid and other medium-chain fatty acids.

Cooking with Coconut Oil for Healthy Benefits

It helps in losing weight

There are evidences that using coconut oil can help you lose weight. According to studies conducted on different groups of people, coconut oil proved more effective in reducing waist circumference as compared to using soybean oil while also improving several other health issues. And was also found that virgin coconut oil reduced appetite more as compared to extra-virgin olive oil, when added to foods or cooked with. Tall these benefits are due to medium-chain fatty acids, which potentially lead to a modest amount of decrease in body weight.

Provides prevention from heart diseases

The saturated fats in coconut oil is different with those found in cheese and butter. The saturated fats in it are medium chain triglycerides which is differently metabolized. This type of fatty acid tend to change into energy faster than any other type which hardly metabolizes and get stuck on the artery walls. Therefore, these saturated fats in coconut oil don’t make your heart work harder and also makes heart diseases such as coronary heart and strokes go away.

Helps in preventing brain disorders

Before turning into energy the medium chained triglycerides are metabolized into ketones in the liver. Ketones are a type of acid created during the process of converting fat into energy instead of carbohydrates. Such metabolism occurs when we consume coconut oil, with medium chained triglycerides. Ketones are good for brain disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer.

Fights free radicals

Apart from benefiting from its fats, coconut oil also offers benefits from its vitamins. The vitamins in it have antioxidant properties to fight free radicals. Thereby, it is a good aid to prevent the symptoms of aging such as dull, freckled and wrinkled skin. It is helps maintaining skin moisture.

A few other health benefit of using coconut oil for cooking are:

-Dissolved kidney stones

-Reduces inflammation

-Improves digestion

-Maintains fresh and healthy mouth

-Helps in the prevention of osteoporosis

-Helps in treating Type 2 diabetes

-Builds muscle mass

In addition to the use of coconut oil for cooking, we can also directly apply it onto our skin. Besides the benefits to skin, the antioxidant in this oil is also able to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Coconut Oil tastes good as any other oil or cooking medium. It’s very easy to include it in all your recipes by simply replacing it with the present one. You can even replace it for butter or margarine and use as a spread.

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