Coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of coconut palm trees. The oil has many different applications, including medicinal, industrial and food preparation. People use coconut oil for cooking and nutritional fat in tropical climates where palm trees and coconuts are indigenous. Coconut oil is composed of several types of fats, both bad and good.
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Coconut oil is extracted from unrefined coconut milk, and is primarily composed of saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are unhealthy fats that are commonly found in animal-based products like fatty meats and dairy products. Diets high in saturated fats can cause elevated cholesterol levels, which increase the risks related to high blood pressure and heart disease.
One of the primary saturated fats in coconut oils is a fatty acid called lauric acid. According to a review of the scientific literature published in the January 2010 edition of “Lipids,” Dr. Renata Micha states that a significant correlation exists between lauric acid consumption and total cholesterol reduction.
While it is not a large component, one of the ingredients of coconut oil is a fatty acid called linoleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fatty acid, and not a saturated fat. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that has inflammatory properties. However, the body can convert linoleic acid into gamma-linoleic acid, which reduces inflammation and promotes healthy brain function, metabolism and reproductive and bone health.