The Low down on Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Cocos nucifera

For my blog today I just want to remind you all about how wonderful Mother Nature is with her magical Coco

coconuts, the most traditional of Island cuisine and medicine

coconuts, the most traditional of Island cuisine and medicine

nuts. This is one of our favorite nuts and in the herbal dispensary we use it in lots of salad dressings, cooking, and it makes the most divine body creams. Coconut water is yumm, the cream is the basis of so many recipes here and the smell and flavor are just so perfect in the Queensland sub tropical climate we live in.
So, all you people out there who drink your coconut water after yoga, and all you people out there who cook with it as a daily practice. Here is my low down so that you have all the info you need.
Lots of love and enjoy. Dom xoxox

Botanically known as Cocos nucifera. We all love our coconut. These days hardly a day goes by when I am not sipping on a gorgeous fresh coconut for its mineral rich water, or dolloping some full cream in my cooking. Its an ancient food and one of the fastest freshest ways to rehydrate and feel nourished.
Coconuts provide a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world. coconut is a staple in our diets and provides the majority of the food eaten on some luscious tropical Islands. Complete with Seafood and you have the ultimate nutritional profile.

Coconut provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil possesses healing properties and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Coconut palm is so highly valued by Pacific Islanders as a source of food and medicine that it is called “The Tree of Life.” and recently a load of research has gone into coconuts to show that the traditional uses are fully validated and is a fabulous example of food as medicine

Beautiful Medicine

In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including skin conditions including bruises, burns ezcema, acne and abscesses. Many respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis,colds, cough, fever, flu and many bacterial and viral infections. It has been considered soothing medicine on the digestive tract and helps regulate bowel movements.

There have been clinical trials and published studies showing that coconutcan provide a wide range of health benefits including antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, high grade nutrition, energy enhancing, digestive aid, blood sugar ballancing, enzyme enhancing, improves absorption of other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, co enzymes and vitamins. Protects bones from osteoporosis, relieves gallbladder disease, chrones, ulcerative colitis and stomach ulcers, antinflammatory, increases tissue healing potential, immune boosting, protects body from cancers, reduces cholesterol, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Wow, the list goes on to help prevent peridontal disease and tooth decay, an antioxidant and works as a free radical scavenger taking toxins from our bodies, no wonder we love Coconut so much!

Coconut Oil

While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it’s the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.

We were all persuaded that Coconut oil was unhealthy in the last twenty years, and that was a whole lot of rubbish. The persuasive swing of marketing hey? Well Coconut has done the U turn and is now one of the most popular oils for cooking, eating, and skin applications.

Coconut oil has been described as “the healthiest oil on earth.”
There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.

The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.

MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.


The journal articles listed below are just a small sampling of the many published studies involving coconut oil, medium-chain triglycerides, and other related subjects.

Antimicrobial Effects
Antibacterial actions of fatty acids and monoglycerides against Helicobacter pylori. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 May 15;36(1-2):9-17.

Bactericidal effects of fatty acids and monoglycerides on Helicobacter pylori. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Oct;20(4):258-62.

Effect of fatty acids on arenavirus replication: inhibition of virus production by lauric acid. Arch Virol. 2001;146(4):777-90.

Killing of Gram-positive cocci by fatty acids and monoglycerides. APMIS. 2001 Oct;109(10):670-8.

In vitro killing of Candida albicans by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2001 Nov;45(11):3209-12.

In vitro susceptibilities of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1999 Nov;43(11):2790-2.

In vitro inactivation of Chlamydia trachomatis by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1998 Sep;42(9):2290-4.

Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to bactericidal properties of medium-chain monoglycerides and free fatty acids. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1996 Feb;40(2):302-6.

Inactivation of enveloped viruses in human bodily fluids by purified lipids. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Jun 6;724:457-64. Review.

Inactivation of visna virus and other enveloped viruses by free fatty acids and monoglycerides. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1994 Jun 6;724:465-71.

Lauric acid inhibits the maturation of vesicular stomatitis virus. J Gen Virol. 1994 Feb;75 ( Pt 2):353-61.

Inactivation of enveloped viruses and killing of cells by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1987 Jan;31(1):27-31.

The effects of fatty acids and their monoesters on the metabolic activity of dental plaque. J Dent Res. 1984 Jan;63(1):2-5.

Cardiovascular Health

Note: A large number of studies are showing a direct correlation between chronic low-grade bacterial and viral infections and coronary heart disease. The primary culprits are Chlamydia pneumoniae, Cytomegalovirus, and Helicobacter pylori. Each of these pathogenic organisms as well as many others are effectively killed by the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil. Coconut oil, therefore, can reduce risk of heart disease.
A diet rich in coconut oil reduces diurnal postprandial variations in circulating tissue plasminogen activator antigen and fasting lipoprotein (a) compared with a diet rich in unsaturated fat in women. J. Nutr. 2003;133:3422-3427.
Antibiotic treatment of atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2003 Dec;14(6):605-14.

Coconut Oil: Atherogenic or Not? (What therefore causes Atherosclerosis?). Philippine Journal of Cardiology. 2003 July-Sept; 31(3):97-104.

Chronic infection and coronary artery disease. Cardiol Clin. 2003 Aug;21(3):333-62.

Prevalence of Chlamydia pneumoniae in the atherosclerotic plaque of patients with unstable angina and its relation with serology. Int J Cardiol. 2003 Jun;89(2-3):273-9.

Results of use of metformin and replacement of starch with saturated fat in diets of patients with type 2 diabetes. Endocr Pract. 2002 May-Jun;8(3):177-83.

Secondary prevention of coronary artery disease with antimicrobials: current status and future directions. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2002;2(2):107-18.

Chronic infections and atherosclerosis. J Med Assoc Thai. 2001 Dec;84 Suppl 3:S650-7.

Emerging relations between infectious diseases and coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. CMAJ 2000 Jul 11;163(1);49-56.

The possible role of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in the origin of atherosclerosis. J Clin Virol 2000 Feb;16(1):17-24.

Effects of total pathogen burden on coronary artery disease risk and C-reactive protein levels. Am J Cardiol 2000 Jan 15;85(2):140-6.

A cross-over study of the effect of a single oral feeding of medium chain triglyceride oil vs. canola oil on post-ingestion plasma triglyceride levels in healthy men. Altern Med Rev 1999 Feb;4(1):23-8.

Inverse association of dietary fat with development of ischemic stroke in men. JAMA 1997 December;278(24):2145-50.

The role of coconut and coconut oil in coronary heart disease in Kerala, south India. Trop Doct. 1997 Oct;27(4):215-7.

Chronic infections and coronary heart disease: is there a link? Lancet, 1997 Aug;350(9075):430-37.

Coconut oil consumption and coronary heart disease. Philipp J Intern Med. 1992 May-Jun; 30(3):165-171.

A reevaluation of coconut oil’s effect on serum cholesterol and atherogenesis. J Philipp Med Assoc. 1989 Jul-Sep; 65(1):144-152.

Coconut oil revisited. J Philipp Med Assoc. 1989 Jul-Sep; 65(1):140-142.

Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in aging and arteriosclerosis. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol 1986 Mar-Apr;6(3-4):115-21.

Longitudinal analysis of the relationship between blood pressure and migration: the Tokelau Island Migrant Study. Am J Epidemiol. 1985 Aug;122(2):291-301.

Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Aug;34(8):1552-61.

The Tokelau Island Migrant Study: serum lipid concentration in two environments. J Chronic Dis. 1981;34(2-3):45-55.

Weight Management

Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men. Obes Res. 2003 Mar;11(3):395-402.

Consumption of an oil composed of medium chain triacyglycerols, phytosterols, and N-3 fatty acids improves cardiovascular risk profile in overweight women. Metabolism. 2003 Jun;52(6):771-7.

Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Dec;27(12):1565-71.

Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. J Nutr. 2002 Mar;132(3):329-32.

Value of VLCD supplementation with medium chain triglycerides. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Sep;25(9):1393-400.

Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2001 Nov;131(11):2853-9.

Endogenous fat oxidation during medium chain versus long chain triglyceride feeding in healthy women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Sep;24(9):1158-66.

Hypocaloric feeding in obese women: metabolic effects of medium-chain triglyceride substitution. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Feb;49(2):326-30.

Overfeeding with medium-chain triglyceride diet results in diminished deposition of fat. Am J Clin Nutr. 1983 Jan;37(1):1-4.


Medium- versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jan;27(1):95-102.

Larger diet-induced thermogenesis and less body fat accumulation in rats fed medium-chain triacylglycerols than in those fed long-chain triacylglycerols. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Dec;48(6):524-9.

Comparison of diet-induced thermogenesis of foods containing medium- versus long-chain triacylglycerols. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Dec;48(6):536-40.

Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by chronic consumption of medium-chain triglycerides. J Nutr. 1995 Mar;125(3):531-9.

Thermogenesis in humans during overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides. Metabolism. 1989 Jul;38(7):641-8.

Role of brown adipose tissue in thermogenesis induced by overfeeding a diet containing medium chain triglyceride. Lipids. 1987 Jun;22(6):442-4.

Thermic effect of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986 Nov;44(5):630-4.

Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride. Am J Clin Nutr. 1982 Apr;35(4):678-82.

Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Short term effects of dietary medium-chain fatty acids and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on the fat metabolism of healthy volunteers. Lipids Health Dis. 2003 Nov 17;2(1):10.

Effects of medium- and long-chain triglycerides on sleep and thermoregulatory processes in neonates. J Sleep Res. 1998 Mar;7(1):31-9.

Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications. Life Sci. 1998;62(14):1203-15.

Vegetable oil fortified feeds in the nutrition of very low birthweight babies. Indian Pediatr. 1992 Dec;29(12):1519-27.

Absorption of individual fatty acids from long chain or medium chain triglycerides in very small infants. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986 May;43(5):745-51.

Medium-chain triglyceride feeding in premature infants: effects on calcium and magnesium absorption. Pediatrics. 1978 Apr;61(4):537-45.

Hospital Patient Care/Parenteral Nutrition

An enteral therapy containing medium-chain triglycerides and hydrolyzed peptides reduces postprandial pain associated with chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatology. 2003;3(1):36-40.

Clinical and metabolic effects of two lipid emulsions on the parenteral nutrition of septic patients. Nutrition. 2002 Feb;18(2):134-8.

Metabolic effects of medium-chain triglycerides in parenteral nutrition after surgery Zhonghua Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2001 Sep;39(9):694-7.

Decreased fat and nitrogen losses in patients with AIDS receiving medium-chain-triglyceride-enriched formula vs those receiving long-chain-triglyceride-containing formula. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jun;97(6):605-11.

Efficacy of different triglycerides in total parenteral nutrition for preventing atrophy of the gut in traumatized rats. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1997 Jan-Feb;21(1):21-6.

Parenteral nutrition in the critically ill: use of a medium chain triglyceride emulsion. Intensive Care Med 1993;19(2):89-95.

A comparison of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in surgical patients. Ann Surg. 1993 Feb;217(2):175-84.

Long-chain versus medium and long-chain triglyceride-based fat emulsion in parenteral nutrition of severe head trauma patients. Infusionstherapie. 1990 Oct;17(5):246-8.

The metabolic consequences of infusing emulsions containing medium chain triglycerides for parenteral nutrition: a comparative study with conventional lipid. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1986 May;68(3):119-21.

Cancer, Liver Disease, and Other Health Concerns

Protective effects of medium-chain triglycerides on the liver and gut in rats administered endotoxin. Ann Surg. 2003 Feb;237(2):246-55.

Review of the toxicologic properties of medium-chain triglycerides. Food Chem Toxicol 2000 Jan:38(1):79-98.

Comparison of the fat elimination between long-chain triglycerides and medium-chain triglycerides in rats with ischemic acute renal failure. Ren. Fail. 2002 Jan;24(1):1-9.

Medium-chain triglycerides inhibit free radical formation and TNF-alpha production in rats given enteral ethanol. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2000 Mar;278(3):G467-76.

Protective effect of coconut oil on renal necrosis occurring in rats fed a methyl-deficient diet. Ren. Fail. 1995 Sep; 17 (5):525-37.

Opposite effects of dietary saturated and unsaturated fatty acids on ethanol-pharmacokinetics, triglycerides and carnitines. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Aug:13 (4):338-43.

Menhaden, coconut, and corn oils and mammary tumor incidence in BALB/c virgin female mice treated with DMBA. Nutr Cancer. 1993;20(2):99-106.

The influence of dietary medium chain triglycerides on rat mammary tumor development. Lipids 1987 Jun;22(6):455-61.

Early biochemical and EEG correlates of the ketogenic diet in children with atypical absence epilepsy. Pediatr Neural 1985 Mar-Apr;1(2):104-8.

Tumor promotion by dietary fat in azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in female F344 rats: influence of amount and source of dietary fat. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1984 Mar;72(3):745-50.

Influence of dietary medium-chain triglycerides on the development of N-methylnitrosourea-induced rat mammary tumors. Cancer Res. 1984 Nov;44(11):5023-8.

Enjoy this information. Lots of Love Dom

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