Virgin coconut oil is a functional food as well as nutraceutical. It plays a key role when it is ingested as it contains unique fatty acid composition as well as anti-microbial and antioxidant property. Virgin coconut oil, made from cold pressed fresh coconut kernel, also contains poly-phenolic anti-oxidants and is better commonly available coconut oil that is derived from copra. It contains more than 64%of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and approximately 76% of MCFAs in VCO fats are lauric acid.
Virgin coconut oil as an energy source
It is composed mainly of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) or medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that are burned almost immediately to produce energy for the body. Virgin coconut oil, has low polyunsaturated fatty acid, and is very stable and resistant to oxidation. This makes it excellent cooking oil, thereby protecting body cells against cell damage. Since coconut oil is naturally saturated, it does not need hydrogenation, thereby considerably reducing the chances of high blood
cholesterol and high low-density lipoproteins (LDL). On the other hand, it helps retain high-density lipoproteins (HDL) - the good cholesterol.
Virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer
Virgin coconut oil is a powerful moisturizer that is beneficial to restoring dry or flaking skin. It helps to strengthen skin tissue more deeply and eliminate dead skin cells while absorbing quickly into the skin.
It also helps to delay the occurrence of wrinkles because it contains antioxidant Vitamin E, known to protect skin cells from damage over time. The Vitamin E found in virgin coconut oil soothes eczema, sunburn and psoriasis, and it has antiviral and antifungal effects. Virgin coconut oil contains 3 fatty acids: capric acid, lauric acid and caprylic acid which will be effective against fungal infections.
To help to lose body weight
A diet that consists of virgin coconut oil with its MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) ensures higher energy levels, a rise in metabolism and consequently, reduced body weight. Virgin coconut oil is effective in reducing body fat and lowering weight because it contains fewer calories than any other fat. The Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) undergo a faster and more complete digestion in the stomach and upper small intestine than the long chain triglycerides (LCTs). The products of MCT hydrolysis are absorbed into the intestinal cells almost as fast as glucose and are carried directly to the liver. The LCTs on the other hand, undergo a slow process of digestion and the products of digestion are then transported to the liver via the lymphatics and systemic circulation. Consequently, the LCTs are distributed systematically to all parts of the body before reaching the liver. LCTs are therefore, more prone to be deposited as fat in the peripheral tissues or fat depots than the short and medium chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil also helps the body to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium ions. Coconut oil is used as a supplement in poorly developed countries to treat rickets.
Virgin coconut oil contains significant amount of Vitamin E. Tocopherols including Tocotrienols are effective in lowering serum HDL level by inhibiting hepatic enzymatic activity HMG-CoA reductase activity through post-transcriptional mechanism.
Blood sugar controlling mechanism
A study on Insulin tropic potency of lauric acid shows a metabolic rationale for medium chain fatty acids (MCFA).In the effect of MCFA on insulin secretion depends upon its chain length. Among all MCFA capric acid (C10) and lauric acid were observed to display the most potent effects on insulin secretion. Another study proved that, as compared to other oils, coconut oil in the diet enhanced
insulin action and improved binding affinity.
Cooking, frying and effect on cholesterol formation in the human body
Virgin coconut oil does not contain cholesterol since it is plant based oil. Lauric acid is the major fatty acids present in the virgin coconut oil which is a medium chain fatty acid. The oil which is exposed to moisture and atmosphere oxygen at higher temperature is hydrogenated and unsaturated fatty acids are prone to this mechanism. Hydrogenation causes trans fatty acid formation which is higher in ordinary coconut oil than virgin coconut oil due to its higher presence of unsaturated fatty acids.
Other than saturation, the presence of anti-oxidants such as polyphenols and Vitamin E in VCO indicates highest resistant to oxidative stability during deep frying. Virgin coconut oil is very stable against oxidative deterioration. VCO does not cause any color change even after several frying times. Consumption of Trans fatty acids causes elevated total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) and triglycerides (TG), as well
as decreased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels.
Due to the stability mechanism trans fatty acids does not synthesis in virgin coconut oil which does not cause the formation of cholesterol in the body by unbalancing the HDL and LDL levels, increasing the total cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.