If you love laksa, nasi lemak and all foods with that rich, lemak (fatty) taste of coconut milk, here’s great news: Coconut milk – along with the coconut oil it contains – is actually very healthy.
It boosts immunity, kills bacteria and viruses, protects against cancer and other degenerative diseases, prevents osteoporosis by promoting calcium absorption, slows down ageing and improves the complexion. It even helps weight loss!
This is not exactly “news” because some people have known it all along. The rest of us, unfortunately, have been indoctrinated to believe that coconut is bad, bad, bad.
Benefits of coconut oil – autism
Among the more enlightened are some natural health practitioners I know, as well as a medical doctor who practices nutritional medicine. They have been prescribing coconut oil to patients suffering from a broad range of medical conditions, including children’s developmental and behavioural problems such as autism and hyperactivity.
Walk into a health foods store and you will find coconut oil, organic quality of course, selling at quite a hefty price – about $15 for a small bottle. Trust me, the people who buy it have not gone cuckoo. They have been doing their research.
Admittedly, I hadn’t. And I suspect the majority of dieticians, nutritionists and other health “experts” who keep advising us to avoid coconut milk (and substitute it with low fat cow’s milk) hadn’t either.
When I did some reading up recently, I was astounded. This was despite me already knowing that coconuts are not as bad as they are commonly made out to be.
Benefits of coconut oil – not harmful
I already knew, from my Indian naturopath friend who hails from Kerela, “the land of coconuts”, that South Indians eat as much as two coconuts per day and yet do not have high rates of heart disease
During a visit to Myanmar, I enjoyed their version of laksa which was so rich that it seemed made with coconut cream rather than coconut milk! Myanmar also has a very low rate of heart disease.
But coconut is better than “not bad”. It is actually very good.
Benefits of coconut oil – lauric acid
Do you know that infant milk formula is made with coconut oil? Do you know why?
Coconut oil, like human breast milk, is rich in lauric acid which boosts immunity and also destroys harmful bacteria and viruses. Aids patients who recognised this have successfully stabilised their condition by taking coconut oil as part of a healthy diet.
Benefits of coconut oil – candida yeast infection
Coconut oil has also been proven to kill the Candida Albicans yeast.
Candida infection, caused mainly by excessive use of antibiotics, affects millions of people in modern society, giving them symptoms such as chronic fatigue, poor bowel function, flatulence, allergies, sugar cravings, vaginal / anal itch, and so on.
It is considered difficult to treat as anti-candida drugs produce very strong side effects. Yet many sufferers have solved the problem by taking coconut oil, coconut milk, fresh coconuts and other coconut products.
They get even better results if they also avoid skimmed and low fat milk products – the very products that our health “experts” recommend us to use in place of coconut milk!
Benefits of coconut oil – weight loss
The connection between coconut oil and weight loss is interesting. Farmers in America discovered this early last century when they tried to fatten their cattle by feeding them coconut oil. Instead of gaining weight, their cattle lost weight!
So again, this is not news. Do a simple Internet search such as “benefits of coconut oil” and you will get plenty of details.
One particular good source of information is the Weston Price Foundation, an organisation that promotes traditional dietary wisdom, at www.westonprice.org
Benefits of coconut oil – good saturated fats
But isn’t coconut oil a saturated fat? And aren’t saturated fats harmful?
Yes, coconut oil consists of 90 percent saturated fats. But whether or not saturated fats are harmful depends on who you ask.
Among mainstream nutritionists, the idea that saturated fats cause heart disease is an “absolute truth” that is never questioned.
Those who question this belief, however, point out that mankind has been consuming mainly saturated fats – in the form of butter, lard, coconut oil, etc – for thousands of years, yet heart disease was rare before the 1920s.
If anything, the rise of heart disease in recent decades corresponds to the increasing use of polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn, safflower and canola, as well as margarine.
A growing number of nutrition researchers are now saying that the real cause of heart disease is polyunsaturated fats – especially trans fats produced when liquid vegetable oils are converted into semi-solid margarine, as well as oils that have turned rancid from exposure to heat, air and moisture.
Benefits of coconut oil – medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)
Moreover, the benefits of coconut oil stem from the fact that not all saturated fats are the same.
Fats can generally be divided into 3 categories, depending on how long their molecule chains are – short, medium and long chain fatty acids.
The short and medium chain fatty acids are particularly beneficial to health, and coconut oil conists mainly of medium chain fatty acids, or medium chain triglycxerides (NCTs).
These are responsible for many of the benefits of coconut oil listed above.
Benefits of coconut oil – against HIV
In particular, the MCT lauric acid is known to have powerful anti-virus, anti-bacteria properties and this is plentiful in coconut oil.
Researchers in the Philippines tested coconut oil, lauric acid and monolaurin, an extract of lauric acid, on patients infected with the HIV virus that causes Aids.
The results were exceptionally encouraging. Most of the Aids patients recorded a dramatic drop in the HIV virus count, in some cases to “undetectable” levels. Unfortunately, it seemed that lack of funding prevented follow-up, larger scale research on the benefits of coconut oil for fighting HIV and Aids.
Other benefits of coconut oil comes from caprylic acid, which has anti-fungal properties.
This is another topic for another time. For now, you might want to go out and enjoy a double serving of laksa.