Coconut oil is antioxidant and contains many beneficial saturated fats. Fully two-thirds of the fats are medium-chain fatty acids, which help with digestion and absorption of the food that we eat. Some of those are caprylic, capric and lauric acids, which are known for being anti-viral and heart protective. These medium-chain fats are much easier than other fats to digest and absorb, requiring very little of your metabolism, freeing up your energy for other vital functions. This may be why many holistic health practitioners claim that coconut oil boosts metabolism, helping to balance blood sugar and support healthy weight loss.
Unrefined (extra virgin) coconut oil has a smoking point of 350 degrees, so it is safe to use with medium heat and in baking. Refined coconut oils have a higher smoking point (450 degrees). I don’t recommend refined coconut oils because of the chemicals used in the refinement process, hydrogenation, the removal of vitamin E and other nutrients, and deoderization. The studies that caused scientists to decry coconut oil in the past actually used hydrogenated coconut oils, rather than raw coconut oils which have such healthful properties.
Lauric acid makes coconut oil antimicrobial and antifungal. Its slightly sweet taste and smooth texture make it pleasant to use for oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for gum and tooth decay, strengthening teeth, gums and jaw, for improving breath odor, bleeding gums, dry throat and chapped lips. Coconut oil is mildly abrasive, helping to scrub the teeth, removing plaque and preventing cavities. It has been shown to reduce the bacterium streptococcus mutans, which is responsible for most tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Asokan, S., Emmadi, P., Chamundehwari, R. (2001, Jan-Mar). “Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study”, Indian Journal of Dental Research, 20(1), 47-51. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19336860
Cheshire, Sara. (2014, Aug 6). Does Oil Pulling Work? CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/06/health/oil-pulling/
Erasmus, U. (1986). Fats that Heal Fats that Kill, Burnaby, BC Canada: Alive Books
Mateljan, G. (2007). The World’s Healthiest Foods, Seattle, Washington: George Mateljan Foundation.