Long but interesting.
Coconut oil is in many ways a unique gift of nature. It contains 92% saturated fatty acids, giving coconut oil important properties often lost under the dusty political cloud of the cholesterol debate. Quasi immune to light oxidation and highly resistant to rancidity the oil is functional as a safe nutritional source in most climates without the need for refrigeration or special storage conditions.
However, the fact most lost in the furor over cholesterol is the differentiation of the different sub-groups of fatty acids and in particular the importance in particular of Medium Chain Fatty Acids. Modern researchers have discovered important health benefits and critical bodily functions that are supported by the pool of MCFAs available to the human body. The high concentration of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) of 62% is the critical aspect of why this tropical oil not only behaves differently to any other saturated fat, but is also deemed healthier than most unsaturated oils, the latter often having a much higher concentration of long chain fatty acids.. Generally MCFAs are of a smaller particle size thus requiring less energy and fewer enzymes for absorption, placing less strain on the digestive system.
This is further enhanced by the fact that short and medium chain fatty acids are made soluble and absorbed in the aqueous phase of the intestinal contents and transported directly via the portal vein to the liver where they are consumed as an energy source similar to carbohydrates. MCFA have also been shown to assist the absorption and retention of calcium, magnesium and some amino acids as well supporting the healthy functioning of the thyroid. Notwithstanding all the bodily functions that may be enhanced by the consumption of MCFAs the most outstanding finding of modern research has been the capacity of certain MCFA to enhance the human immune system and actively participate in the capacity of the human body to fight virus, bacteria and fungi.
The most important of these MCFAs that enhance and boost the bodies immune system are Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid and Lauric Acid and Myristic Acid It is however the powerful capacity of Lauric acid to immobilise harmful invaders of our body, which has excited researchers the most. Although Dr Jon Kabara had already noted the antimicrobial activity of lauric acid in 1966, it has been only in the last 10 years that the potential of all MCFA in fighting bacterial and viral infections has been realised. Furthermore, in addition to their capacity to inactivate pathogenic organisms, the use of MCFAs has shown no negative toxicological or pharmacological side effects. If anything MCFA have shown to weaken viruses or bacteria that show antibiotic resistance to such an extent that these drugs can actually function against these organisms, while the use of MCFAs over time has not shown any build-up of resistance by microbial organisms to these fatty acids.
In practical terms, the consumption of MCFAs would not only boost the human immune system without fear of negative side effects, but also that they could be consumed to compliment the functions of general antibiotic treatments when their effectiveness is decreased by built up resistance found in bacteria. MCFAs are effective mostly in their digested form or in the case of lauric acid: monolaurin. The effectiveness of monolaurin is based on the small size of the particle and the similarity in substance to the lipid (fat) membranes coating harmful microorganisms. Monolaurin is attracted to the virus and is then easily absorbed into its quasi fluid membrane weakening it to such a degree that it literally splits open, killing the organism and allowing the bodies own white blood cells to effectively clean and dispose of the remnants. These research results have lead to the incorporation of especially Caprylic, Capric and Lauric Acid into many accepted anti-viral/anti-bacterial pharmaceutical treatments today.
The fact is that over 63% of coconut oil is made up of these three major fatty acids. In addition the majority, around 48%, is Lauric acid, the fundamental building block of our bodies immune system and the most effective anti-pathogenic of all MCFAs. At these concentrations it is only found in one other of natures products: Mothers Milk.