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What Are the Benefits of Drinking Coconut Oil?

by
author image Susanne Preble
Susanne Preble has been sharing her equestrian insight and travel experiences with readers since 2003. She has been teaching, training, and managing professional facilities for more than 20 years. Preble holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and will soon obtain her Bachelor of Science in business administration. She graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2008.
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Coconut Oil?
A close-up of a bamboo spatula on a non-stick frypan with melting coconut oil. Photo Credit jurgakarosaite/iStock/Getty Images

People living in tropical regions have been drinking and eating coconut oil for centuries, but many people have recently refrained from using coconut oil because it is a saturated fat, which have been linked to many serious health conditions. Recent studies, however, demonstrate potential health benefits from consuming coconut oil.

Selection

There are many brands of coconut oil in today’s marketplace with varying nutritional levels, and different brands offer varying degrees of potential health benefits, states Michael Murray, doctor of naturopathic medicine, in the book “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” The healthiest coconut oil is non-hydrogenated and odorless, and although it does not need to be refrigerated, it is best to use it within a month after opening the container, recommends Murray. Coconut oil will solidify at temperatures below 76 degrees F

Composition

The composition of coconut oil differs greatly from the more common types of oil in the typical American diet, like vegetable, canola and olive oils. Coconut oil is described as a medium-chain fatty acid, while the fats found in meat, dairy and plant products are generally long-chain fatty acids. According to the Coconut Research Center website, medium-chain fatty acids do not negatively affect cholesterol levels or cause the clogging of arteries.

Lauric Acid

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a compound that is noted for its immune-boosting properties. According to Dr. Jon J. Kobara, emeritus professor at Michigan State University, lauric acid also is found in breast milk and results in the compound monolaurin, which is known to defend babies from viral and bacterial protozoal infections, states Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., director of the Nutritional Sciences Division of Enig Associates.

Capric Acid

Coconut oil also contains capric acid, which changes into a compound called monocaprin once ingested. Monocaprin has strong antiviral properties. According to Murray's book, moncaprin might have an antiviral effect against some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, herpes simplex 1 and 2 and gonorrhea. Studies also are underway to test the effectiveness of coconut oil in combating the virus responsible for HIV/AIDS.

Pneumonia

According to the American College of Chest Physicians website, a clinical study conducted by the Philippines Children’s Medical Center found virgin coconut oil to be an effective adjunct therapy for children suffering from acquired pneumonia. The use of virgin coconut oil will not cure pediatric-acquired pneumonia, but the results of this study suggest that taking it might help to accelerate the normalization of the respiratory rate and reduce the existence of crackles in the lungs.

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