Put the Lime in the Coconut

Yes, coconut oil is good for you!

When I spoke to my dad on the phone the other night, I could hear from his sexy, deep voice that he had a chest cold.

I know what you’re thinking: “Big deal! It’s cold and flu season everywhere!” Except my dad is in his nineties and his lungs are not his strongest organs. In my heart, I knew I was listening to the harbinger of pneumonia.

I asked him immediately to stop ingesting those things that might have caused his immunity to weaken—the junk food he loves that’s filled with sugar, white flour, trans-fatty acids or rancid oils, etc.—and start taking the things that help rid his body of the congestive condition naturally.

I asked Rosie, a friend of his who was at the house, to get on the phone so I could give her some instructions. I should have known better—right away, she resisted what I tried to tell her. She simply wanted to get him over to the ER so he could get some antibiotics into his system. She didn’t want him messing around with “all that voodoo stuff.”

Resisting the urge to sigh (or scream), I explained as gently as possible that our family doesn’t operate that way. We seek the source or cause of a problem so we can truly eliminate the accompanying condition; we try to avoid the suppressive effects of synthetic medications and their harmful side effects.

Rosie is intelligent and sweet and cares very much about my father’s health, so she was willing to listen. I told her my dad doesn’t take any medications whatsoever to keep him going. She, in turn, listed all the meds she takes for allergies, blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis, and other assorted conditions. I told her I had been advising my father on his health for years now, and he didn’t suffer from any of these conditions. She got my drift.

Then I asked her if dad was taking his coconut oil.

Exit My Drift, Enter Her Outrage

“Are you crazy?!” she stormed. “Don’t you know coconut oil is nothing but saturated fat? What are you trying to do, raise his cholesterol levels and give him a heart attack?” As for herself, she proudly announced, she uses only canola oil when she cooks and good olive oil for salads.

Okay, there was hope. I praised her for using olive oil on her salads, adding that I hoped it was from virgin olive oil that had been cold-pressed. I also mentioned, almost as an aside, that she might want to do some research into the truth about the man-made canola oil she uses for most of her cooking.

“I don’t think you realize all the beneficial qualities of pure, unadulterated coconut oil that hasn’t gone through any hydrogenation process,” I said.

“Oh, really?” she countered. “Like what?”

So this is what I told her.

Good Fat, Bad Fat

First, yes, coconut oil is saturated fat. But just like good and bad cholesterol, there’s good and bad saturated fat. The particular kind of fat in coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized as soon as consumed. They’re never converted into cholesterol or body fat, unlike the bad kind of saturated fat, which is.

Your body doesn’t have to emulsify coconut oil with bile salts because it’s absorbed directly from the small intestine to the liver, where it is immediately converted into usable energy. In effect, coconut oil stimulates your metabolism. A stimulated metabolism can not only help lower cholesterol levels, it can help the body release weight, rather than gain it.

Yup. Oil that can help you lose weight. Good fat. Ain’t nature grand?

“But fatty foods can cause blood clots!” Rosie said, adroitly echoing hundreds of magazine articles and product-promoting (i.e., not information disseminating) commercials.

Very true. The kind of fat found in lard, butter, vegetable oils, and even some olive oils earns its bad reputation by promoting “sticky platelets,” which can, indeed, increase the chance of developing clots. But that’s not the kind of fat found in virgin coconut oil.

See, coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids have a similar effect to fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acids—and everybody knows about fish oil, right? Its fatty acids have the opposite effect of the other, icky saturated fats. Instead of creating clots, it helps break them up.

“Wow,” said Rosie.

“Wow is right,” I said. “But that’s not all. In fact, it’s just the beginning!”

Study the island cultures where coconuts grow and are consumed as a matter of course, and you’ll find those folks never seem to come down with the kind of ailments we sophisticated folks get out here in the city. Why? ‘Cause they’ve been using coconuts and coconut oil for centuries to ward off maladies for which we commonly run to get treated by modern drugs. No defense against the common cold? Ha! The immune-enhancing properties of coconut oil’s fatty acids are anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-tumor, and anti-fungal. Let’s see a cold stand up against that!

“But how does it work?” Rosie wanted to know.

“Simple!” I said. “Well, not really simple… Okay, take a deep breath. Here we go…”

To Make a Long Story Short

The largest medium-chain fatty acid is lauric acid, a string of 12 carbon atoms. Lauric acid is well-known in naturopathic circles for its antiviral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-tumor benefits.

The richest natural source known of lauric acid is mother’s milk. Ingesting mother’s milk as an adult is not really all that convenient or easy to find. The second richest natural source, however, is coconut oil. Approximately 50% or more of a coconut’s fatty-acid content consists of lauric acid.

By the way, the only oils that contain lauric acid are coconut oil, palm kernel oil and butter—and butter’s lauric acid content is only about 3%, nowhere close to coconut oil’s content. Plus, coconuts also have other medium-chain fatty acids, such as caprylic acid (approx. 8%) and capric acid (approx. 7%). Both provide good health benefits.

In short, daily use of coconut oil helps kill viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeast. It helps infants and the elderly assimilate nutrients and improve digestion. Daily usage can help control diabetes, lower bad cholesterol, reduce sticky blood platelets, and repair free-radical injuries. People with low thyroid find it can increase their energy by taking stress off the thyroid gland. It softens the skin, it helps release excess weight….

“So I should use it every day,” Rosie said, cutting me off.

I guess I was getting carried away. I do that sometimes.

In the end, she agreed to make sure my dad took his coconut oil, and I told her there are numerous in-depth books out on the market providing extensive research done on the subject. She agreed to go do some reading. She was happy. That made me happy.

I also slipped in a plug for an excellent article on the devastating effects of trans-fatty acids (such as canola oil) as weapons of mass destruction, “WMDs: Much Closer Than You Think,” Ellen Troyer, MT MA, the Chief Research Officer at Biosyntrx (2/20/04, http://www.biosyntrx.com). But I think I’m getting carried away again…

On a Personal Note

I have sampled every coconut oil available in my search for the perfect coconut oil. Frankly, as long as it’s organic and virgin, it usually tastes delicious, so I won’t recommend any one brand to you here. Well, actually, one… Jarrow Formulas – because I know they have two varieties – the organic, full-bodied, full-flavored virgin coconut oil and the expeller-pressed variety (also from organic coconuts) that has all the benefits but removes the heavy flavor of the coconut, making it ideal for those who need the oil’s benefits but dislike the rich flavor. Many local grocery stores are carrying different brands now, and those in the Gallup area can visit La Montañita Co-op for a good variety. Of course you can order any brand you like online.

How can I describe a really rich, delicious coconut oil to you? Let me count the … no, no, you’ve got to taste it for yourself. It’s like eating coconut cream. It goes down oh so nice. And the smell! I love to put it on head to toe after a shower.

Ever found an oil that absorbs completely into the skin without getting on your clothes and ruining them? Coconut oil. If I get it on my hands when I’m cooking, it comes right off with a little warm water—I don’t even have to use soap! It’s the cleanest oil I’ve ever worked with. Comes right off dishes, too, with or without dish soap.

We even feed it to our dogs. (We have a special-needs doggies rescue group. No cats, no birds, just dogs. Lots of dogs.) My husband and I adopt handicapped, often blind dogs from rescue shelters. Most have been abused and/or abandoned, and they come to us malnourished with dull coats. Of course, you’d never know it to see them today. No one who meets our furry children can believe they were once emaciated-looking with horrible breath and rotting teeth. Besides their excellent diet, I firmly believe coconut oil has contributed to their now thick, lustrous coats. Take my 19-year-old Maltese mix, for example. She was rescued from a dumpster, starving to death. We mixed coconut oil into her food, and she immediately started growing fur on her bare patches. Not to mention…

I’m getting carried away again, aren’t I? Okay, no more stories—except to say, one last time:

Try some coconut oil!