Naturopathic Nutrition: Coconut Oil – The True Superfood

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There has been a lot of press recently about oils and more particularly, coconut oil. Coconut oil always had a bad rap as a nasty saturated fat but actually, due to its unique molecular structure, it stands alone from other dietary sources of fat.

The fats in coconut oil are primarily Medium Chain Fatty Acids, or MCFA’s, which are absorbed and metabolised by our bodies entirely differently to the usual Long Chain Fatty Acids found in Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Oils.

Coconut oil has a non-exhaustive range of health benefits; it improves digestion, is hugely anti-inflammatory and is great for giving a quick energy boost pre / post exercise or at any stage during the day, as it is very easily digested and turned into energy. coconut oil is made up of the healthy fatty acids Lauric Acid and Caprylic Acid, which contain anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to boost the immune system.

There has also been extensive research proving the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the Lauric Acid contained in coconut oil. Moreover, the MCFA’s in coconut oil produce energy rather than fat, thereby improving metabolism to aid weight loss, whilst also preventing fatigue. What’s not to love?!

Aside from the numerous health benefits mentioned above, coconut oil is a fantastic moisturiser, hair conditioner, make-up remover, massage oil and nappy rash ointment. Make sure you use an organic unrefined oil (ie, should be solid at room temperature and state “extra virgin”) because processing and hydrogenation interfere with its health promoting qualities. coconut oil is also great to cook with, as it does not oxidise when heated, like most other vegetable oils. You can add it to smoothies, healthy desserts and popcorn, or use it as a butter.

Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures, the coconut has a long and respected history as both a food and medicine. Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to the coconut’s amazing healing powers.

In some parts of the world, coconut oil is a primary source of food that people have thrived on for many generations. The best example of such a population is the Tokelauans who live in the South Pacific. Over 60% of their calorie intake comes from coconuts and they are the biggest consumers of saturated fat in the world. They are also in excellent health, with no evidence of heart disease. No wonder the coconut tree is known in the South Pacific as the Tree of Life – Aloha!

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. See for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.

By Nicky Flood