The opinion on coconut oil has shifted, and the once reviled fat is now emerging as a heart healthful oil. Be clear that virgin coconut oil, not the partially hydrogenated variety found in processed foods, is the one sharing the shelf with olive oil.
Virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconut that has been dried and had its oil extracted mechanically, not chemically like the partially hydrogenated kind. While most of the fatty acids contained in virgin coconut oil are saturated, their molecular structure is different from that found in other saturated fats: The fatty-acid chains in coconut oil are shorter than in most saturated fats. The human body can break down the shorter chains and metabolize them faster than longer chains. This means the fat can be rapidly oxidized as energy and is less likely to be stored as fat.
The benefits of virgin coconut oil help keep the body running smoother. The oil is high is lauric acid, a saturated fat that has been shown to increase both HDL and LDL cholesterol, which results in a neutral effect and ultimately makes the oil benign. Coconut oil can positively affect our hormones for thyroid and blood sugar control, help restore normal thyroid function, and help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. When the thyroid does not function optimally, it can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol.
It’s important to realize that virgin coconut oil is still a fat and must be consumed in moderation in order to keep total calorie intake in check. However, it is a good option for health seekers, and a great alternative for baking and cooking.
Virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature and should be treated like butter in recipes. However, it has a much higher smoke point (350°F), making it a great fat for sautéing and stir-frying.
Resource: IDEA Fitness Journal