Virgin coconut oil is becoming recognized as the healthiest of all dietary oils. What makes it so healthy are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA).
All fats and oils are composed of fat molecules known as fatty acids. There are many different types of fatty acids, but they all can be classified into three basic categories: short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).
Almost all of the fats in our diet consist of LCFA. Coconut oil is unique. It is composing predominately of MCFA.
The fatty acids in our foods, whether they are short, medium, or long, are in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are simply three fatty acids that are joined together. So you can have short-chain triglycerides (SCT), medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), or long-chain triglycerides (LCT). Coconut oil actually consists of MCT. When a fat is consumed, our bodies break the bonds that hold the triglycerides together releasing the individual fatty acids. It is only after the Oil is consumed that the MCT transform into MCFA. This is important because MCFA can have a very powerful effect on our health. One of the most remarkable effects of MCFA in coconut oil is their ability to prevent and even cure infectious illnesses. ⁷ So power-fill are they that MCFA are currently being used in food processing to protect foods from spoilage by bacteria and fungi. They are also included in dietary supplements and skin lotions to combat infections. Even some
over-the-counter antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal medications include MCFA as the active ingredient.
Like Mother’s Milk
There are only a few foods that contain MCFA. Coconut oil is by far the best source. Palm kernel oil also contains a fair amount. The next best source is human breast milk. Breast milk contains about 4-9 percent MCFA, depending on the mother’s diet. Mother Nature apparently sees the need for MCFA in the diet of newborn infants or they wouldn’t be there. Researchers have studied the need for MCFA in human growth and development. They have discovered numerous
benefits and for this reason coconut oil or MCT are routinely added to baby formulas.
One of the primary reasons why nature puts MCFA in breast milk is to protect the infant from infections. When a baby is born its immune system is still immature and the infant is very vulnerable to a world teaming with infectious organisms. Researchers have determined that it is due primarily to the presence of MCFA in breast milk that protects newborns from infections for the first few months of their lives.
Virgin coconut oil is immune protective in children, superior to vitamin C… Clinical studies show virgin coconut oil’s significant role in pediatrics as a source of energy, an immune system booster, a local antiseptic, and an anti-inflammatory.
Arturo C. Ludan, MD
7: Kabara, J.J. The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids. Champaign, IL: The American Oil Chemist’s Society 1978.
Fife, D. (2006). Virgin Coconut Oil (Nature’s Miracle Medicine. Piccadilly Books,Ltd.