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21/05 Tuesday 06:26PM

the virgin coconut oil

text . Pauline Chan .

The coconut oil is making a comeback as an important food in our diet.  Once seen as a villain that clogs arteries and raise cholesterol, the coconut oil is not only celebrated as a top health food but it is also hailed as miracle healer and a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

An American physician, Dr. Bruce Fife, has done extensive research on the benefits of coconuts and is educating the public through his coconut research website to attempt to bring back the glory of this humble plant.  He recently presented  his evidence at the 10th Coconut Festival in Mandaluyong City in the Philippines where he related the remarkable recovery of Steve Newport, 58, from 5 years of progressive dementia after just 35 days of taking the virgin coconut oil (VCO).

Dr. Fife explained that the coconut oil is a 'brain' food. The coconut oil, converted into ketones, acts as a superfuel to the brain and normalises brain function, stops erratic signal transmissions that leads to seizures and improves cognition and memory. Furthermore, Steve Newport's cholesterol levels were not adversely affected despite concerns from some people.  His cholesterol levels improved with good cholesterols (HDL) going up and bad cholesterols (LDL) going down.
The coconut oil has suffered some very bad rep in the last three decades. In the mid-1980s, in order to protect the domestic oils such as soybean and corn, a nationwide campaign was launched in the United States to denounce the imported  'tropical oils' primarily coconut and palm as unhealthy and dangerous with 'horror' stories of high-cholesterol and artery-clogging. The poisonous campaign stemming from trade politics led to the unpopularity and rejection of tropical oils.

People from many diverse cultures and races around the world has revered the coconut as a valuable source of food and medicine. In traditional medicine, people have used it to cure a multitude of illness from asthma to dysentry, from skin infections to tuberculosis.  Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits.

While the coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it is the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now a known fact that the fat in coconut oil is unique and different from most all other fats and do not possesses the health hazards as previously promoted.

What makes the coconut oil so exceptional and how is it different from all other oils, especially the other saturated fats? Here is an excerpt from the Coconut Research Centre site:

"The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.

The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.

MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.

There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils."

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