Coconut Oil: The Brain-Healthy Oil with a Bad Reputation

coconutCoconut oil is generally thought of as being an artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising food that should be avoided. But this is wrong! Coconut oil has a bad reputation that is not deserved.

Not only is this oil good for you, there are doctors and researchers who believe it could hold the key to curing Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

The Story of Coconut’s Bad Rap

In the 1950s, research speculated that hydrogenated fat was the cause of heart disease and that butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil were the culprits. Ironically, products like Crisco were promoted as being healthier.

Tariffs were placed on coconut oil to encourage people to buy new partially hydrogenated oils like Crisco instead. Now it’s known that these highly processed vegetable oils contain dangerous trans fats that are so unhealthy they are banned in some places!

Many of the early studies citing coconut oil as unhealthy were done with the partially hydrogenated form, which puts it at an unfair disadvantage.

Coconut oil was accused of causing weight gain, but it turns out to promote fat storage less than other fats. Back in the 1940s, farmers tried to fatten their livestock with coconut oil, but it didn’t work!

Most vegetable oils are long-chain triglycerides. These are larger molecules that are harder to break down and are more easily stored as fat.

Coconut oil consists of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are smaller and are immediately burned by your liver for energy with no insulin spike.

It is this quality that makes coconut oil a possible Alzheimer’s treatment, which we’ll discuss shortly.

Why Coconut Oil Should Be in Every Kitchen

Coconut oil is the best oil for cooking. It’s 90% saturated fat but that’s what makes it so stable.

While monounsaturated vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil are healthy to use as is, they aren’t recommended for cooking. They become unstable at relatively low temperatures and burn easily. Heat turns them into trans fats, the dangerous unhealthy type you want to avoid!

coconut oilCoconut oil is 50% lauric acid which is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It lowers risk of heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and boosts the immune system.

Lauric acid naturally occurs in breast milk. Coconut is the only way to get it in your diet.

Coconut oil melts at 76°, so depending on the temperature in your home, some days it’s solid and some days it’s liquid! I can’t think of anything else that changes form at room temperature, can you? Don’t keep it in the fridge or it will turn rock hard.

Some people go downright nuts over coconuts! There are sites devoted to the benefits of coconut oil not only as a health food but as a beauty aid. It’s fantastic for moisturizing dry skin or chapped lips or taming frizzy hair.

If you want to get seriously into coconut oil, check out CoconutOil.com for health and beauty tips as well as lots of yummy recipes.

How Coconut Oil Uniquely Feeds the Brain

While it might sound “far out,” there are a lot of scientists, doctors, and researchers working on using coconut oil, MCTs, and ketones to treat Alzheimer’s. Anything relating to the role of fats in the body is complicated, and this is no exception.

Here’s a broad summary of how coconut oil is said to work in the body and the brain.

Your brain’s main fuel is glucose. When your brain cells don’t get the glucose they need, they quickly die.

Insulin is needed to allow glucose to enter the brain cells. Alzheimer’s is sometimes called type 3 diabetes because the brain becomes insulin-deficient and brain cells don’t get the glucose they need.

Our bodies have a back-up energy system for times when we can’t get enough energy from carbohydrates. Our liver will produce ketones that can be used as a substitute fuel during times of starvation.

But you don’t have to starve to access ketones as a source of energy. The medium chain fats (in the form of MCTs) in coconut oil are broken down into ketones by the liver and can cross the blood-brain barrier providing instant energy to brain cells.

Doctors and Drug Companies

You may think that treating Alzheimer’s with coconut oil sounds like a bunch of bunk, but the drug companies don’t. One company has come up with a prescription-only “medical food” called Axona that provides ketones, similar to those in coconut oil.

Alzheimer’s Weekly ran a cost comparison — a month’s supply of Axona costs $120 while a month’s supply of coconut oil costs $6.60. You can bet if there is money to be made the drug companies will be all over it.

alzheimers disease bookDr. Mary Newport has written a detailed account of her husband’s treatment with coconut oil and his progress in Alzheimer’s Disease — What if There Was a Cure? It was very exciting and encouraging for me to see her husband’s progress with this home remedy.

As a neonatal physician, Dr. Newport is familiar with the use of MCTs with newborns. They’re administered to premature babies because the oil is easily utilized even by babies with no digestive enzymes. MCTs are also added to all infant formulas.

She and other experts in the field believe that MCTs could be used to treat numerous diseases besides Alzheimer’s including:

  • dementia of all forms
  • Parkinson’s
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • traumatic brain injury

If someone you love has Alzheimer’s or any other neurological disorder, and want to know more about using coconut oil as a treatment, I recommend getting a copy — Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?

What to Look for When You Buy

omega nutrition coconut oilSome tips before you buy your first jar of coconut oil. Look for “organic” on the label. Never buy coconut oil that says it’s partially hydrogenated. That would be defeating the purpose.

Unfortunately, most commercially available coconut oils taste like coconut. I use coconut oil for sauteing, frying, baking, and adding to smoothies, but I don’t want everything to taste like coconut. 

That’s why I’ve used Omega Nutrition’s 100% organic coconut oil for almost 20 years. I’ve tried other brands over the years but have always gone back. I like its completely neutral taste with no obvious coconut flavor. You can buy it at OmegaNutrition.com or get it on Amazon here — Omega Nutrition Coconut Oil.

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