Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides, such as lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and myristic acid, that have unique properties to promote your health and reduce your risk of disease. You can use coconut oil in recipes for many types of dishes, since it adds a unique flavor and provides health benefits. Consult your doctor about benefits of coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides.
Eating coconut oil can help you lose weight because medium chain triglycerides contribute lower calories than other fats, are minimally stored in your body as fat and stimulate your body to burn more calories. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil provide 8.3 calories per gram, whereas most dietary fats contain long chain fatty acids that contribute 9 calories per gram. Humans quickly metabolize medium chain triglycerides into energy, whereas the body stores long chain fatty acids for future use, causing you to gain fat and weight. Medium chain triglycerides tend to rapidly cross the membrane of the mitochondria, an organelle within cells where energy in metabolized, without requiring carnitine, a substance that assists in energy metabolism. Long chain fatty acids, however, are slower to enter the mitochondria and require carnitine.
Unlike long chain saturated fatty acids found in meat and dairy, medium chain saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil decrease total cholesterol and low density lipoproteins, the "bad" LDL cholesterol, and increase high density lipoproteins, the "good" HDL cholesterol. Scientists at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, studied the effects of eating high amounts of coconut and the risk of coronary heart disease among the Minangkabau, an ethnic group in Sumatra, according to research published in the "Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2004. The results demonstrated that consumption of fat from coconut is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, but high intakes of animal products and cholesterol concomitant with low intakes of plant-based carbohydrates are associated with increased risk.
Coconut oil can be an effective treatment for poisonings, particularly from aluminum phosphide. Grain storage facilities often use aluminum phosphide to control pests and rodents. Scientists at Shaheed-Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran, report a case in which coconut oil was used to treat a 28-year-old male admitted to the hospital after aluminum phosphide poisoning, according to research published in "Human and Experimental Toxicology" in April 2005. Coconut oil prevents absorption of the poison into the mitochondria of cells where it can cause rapid harm. The scientists concluded that coconut oil has clinical significance in treatment of aluminum phosphide poisoning in humans.
Virgin coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, according to research by scientists at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and published in "Pharmaceutical Biology" in February 2010. The scientists also found virgin coconut oil can relieve pain associated with inflammation. Based on these findings, coconut oil may be helpful in patients with inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis.