The fruits of the coconut palm Cocos nucifera are the source of coconut oil. The popular palm oil is extracted from the oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. In other words said, there are no significant differences in the chemical composition and action of the two types of oil.
Coconut oil is composed of about 90% saturated fat, as the majority of them are medium chain triglycerides, which should be well assimilated. The lauric acid is predominant – it is more than 40%. Following it in terms of percentage content are capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid, which is the predominant fatty acid in the classic palm oil.
Coconut oil also contains gallic acid which is part of the phenolic acids. It is believed that these polyphenols determine the flavor and taste of the coconut oil, as the natural coconut oil is rich in them. It also contains some fatty acids derivatives such as betaines, ethanolamide, ethoxylates, fatty acids esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides and polyol esters. Coconut oil is used in the skin treatment after sunburns, in dealing with dermatitis and acne, for weight loss and stabilization of liver health, in high cholesterol and hypertension, for skin-care and hair, for soothing after insect bites.
Many of the miraculous effects of coconut oil are due to the anti-oxidants it contains. They stabilize the health of the cell membranes, improve cell nutrition and thus slow down tissue aging. The intake of coconut oil in a suitable form is also important for the health of the heart and the thyroid. The practice has proven that regardless of the increased fat intake, weight reduction is obtained with the consumption of coconut oil. This is due to the impact of the pure coconut oil upon metabolism. The utilization of the taken oil requires large energy consumption from the organism, i.e. we spend calories while we degrade the consumed amounts of coconut oil. Moreover, the insulin secretion is balanced and blood glucose level is stabilized – the product has low glycemic index. Simultaneously, the lauric acid which is imported in the organism with the consumed coconut oil strengthens the immune system – the component has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity.
Here I should mention the recently popular new recipe of coffee for weight loss – coffee with coconut oil and cinnamon. Coconut oil melts at a temperature of 25 degrees and when it enters the organism, it has cleansing effect on the blood vessels, frees them from slag and toxins and acts as a slimming agent.
The recipe of coffee with coconut oil is the following: two tablespoons coconut oil and a little cinnamon are added to the prepared drink. All is stirred well and is drunk in sips. After such portion of enriched coffee, hunger is felt after more time. The regime with coconut coffee improves the work of the brain and balances cholesterol and blood glucose values.
It was found recently that the trans-fatty acids which are obtained in the hydrogenation of the vegetable oils in the production of margarines possess harmful effect even bigger than that of the saturated fatty acids. That’s why the idea to substitute this hydrogenated vegetable oil with palm oil, which is a natural product rich in saturated fatty acids, occurred among the producers. Last but not least, as a vegetable oil it contains vitamin E and some others anti-oxidants.
Talking about palm oil, the content of palmitic acid is higher in it, as it is believed to be the main cause for the increase of the low density lipoproteins or the bad cholesterol. This predisposes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
It is more harmful not the palm oil itself, but the consumption of excessive amount of cakes and sweets, chips and ready-to-cook food in which content it enters and the continuous use of fat in the fryers.
Due to the content of saturated fatty acids, it is as “harmful” as all other products containing them, predominantly of animal origin. As for all other products, there is not only white or only black color. The truth is somewhere in between. Therefore, keeping the measure is the most important condition, not the stigmatization of the different foods and bringing the consumers to panic.
It is important for everyone to make his informed choice.