Food isn’t immune to fake news: coconut and coconut oil are perfect examples. You won’t hear about it much, but around the world, populations that regularly consume coconut are extraordinarily healthy, with low rates of heart disease, cancer and dementia. Tropical oils were commonly used in U.S. cooking until the 1940s, when the edible oil industry successfully campaigned to replace them with polyunsaturated vegetable and nut oils, and threw trans fats into the mix. The rest is history. We now suffer high (and rising) rates of obesity and chronic illness, and year upon year, life expectancy has declined since 2015.
Coconut has a bad reputation because it contains saturated fat, but that’s only part of the story. Fat is not generic. Saturated fat can consist of long-chain triglycerides (the bad guys, if consumed in excess), or medium chain triglycerides (the good guys, found in coconut and breast milk). The difference, for health, is huge.
The brain is 60% fat by weight, so healthy fats are key to keeping our center of thinking and emotion robust life long. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) strongly support brain fitness both in those with normal mental function and in those suffering cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease. This makes sense, based on how the brain works. A healthy brain can use glucose or fat, in the form of ketones, to fuel its function. The brains of those with memory loss and mental decline lose the ability to metabolize glucose, so end up running on empty unless provided with healthy fats as an alternative, usable source of energy.
“Type-3 diabetes,” demonstrable on PET scans, is a form of brain-specific insulin resistance that can occur even when blood tests for diabetes are normal. MCTs and coconut oil solve this problem by being easily absorbed and broken down to ketones, which travel through the bloodstream to the brain, to keep it humming. In contrast, long-chain triglyceride saturated fats are not terribly effective brain nutrients because they’re hard to break down.
Animal studies showing memory enhancement with coconut oil are confirmed by human research that finds cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s patients. This is nothing short of amazing and it stems from the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and anti-stress activity of coconut oil. Coconut oil also protects brain cells from the damaging effects of beta-amyloid, the protein that aggregates into plaques in the Alzheimer’s brain.
Anyone interested in preserving mental function and preventing cognitive decline, take note, because brain pathologies associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s occur decades before symptoms become obvious. It’s never too soon adopt behaviors that safeguard the brain.
Aside from its brain-healthy MCTs, coconut is a highly nutritious functional food rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Studies show it fights obesity, hypertension, heart disease, insulin resistance and abnormal cholesterol, all of which, coincidentally, are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.
To leverage the health promoting effects of coconut oil, consider these measures:
- Consume two to four tablespoons of organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil daily to promote brain health and reap the benefits of clearer thinking, better memory and overall mental function. Two tablespoons daily is associated with weight loss and reduction of abdominal fat. If that’s too much to eat, rub part of the daily allotment into the skin as a moisturizer or massage oil.
- Cook with coconut oil, because it has a relatively high smoke point: 350°F ( = 177°C). The high smoke point makes this oil less likely to form harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that result from high temperature cooking. AGEs promote inflammation, hastening aging and its associated chronic, degenerative diseases. From a taste point of view, coconut oil is not appropriate for cooking some foods; ghee is a good alternative with an even higher smoke point, but it doesn't contain MCTs.
- Oil pull with coconut oil, an Ayurvedic tradition for minimizing over thirty health conditions and for freshening and stimulating the mind. Habitual oil pulling strongly modifies risk factors for serious systemic diseases. The recommended 20 minutes daily is a difficult time commitment to make, but shorter times are also helpful. More information and simple instructions re: oil pulling can be found here.
The health-boosting effects of coconut oil are more potent with whole oil than its component parts because coconut oil is much more than just medium chain triglycerides. Whole coconut oil is recommended over ketone and MCT supplements because they isolate one or more “magic” ingredients at the expense of others, and are subject to contamination associated with processing.
Incorporating organic, virgin coconut oil into your daily routine is a simple tactic for significantly improving healthspan by preventing, slowing and reversing chronic disease. Protecting memory is key for successful longevity.
Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.
References available on request: email TeamOobroo@oobroo.com