Last update: 12-Dec-2013 1:27 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Coconut oil latest health craze
First, here are the claims of what coconut oil is supposed to do for you: reduces heart disease risk; helps you lose weight; improves digestion; strengthens the immune system; heals infections and repairs damaged tissue; prevents kidney and gall bladder disease; reduces the work load on the liver; reduces stress; treats and prevents diabetes; strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis; promotes healthy skin and hair; and helps brain function and is a treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.
Wow! Sounds like if you want to live to be a couple hundred years old, all you have to do is sit around guzzling coconut oil. The magic of coconut oil is supposed to come from two factors. First is the length of the fatty acid chains that make up the triglycerides (three fatty acids bound together).
In coconut oil the chains are medium length as opposed to the long chains found in most foods. Also, about half of these chains are lauric acid, a type of saturated fat found in mother’s milk and believed to exert positive effects. Are medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) something new? No. They have been used for years in hospitals in the treatment of patients who have trouble digesting and absorbing fat because MCT are easily digested.
MCT also have been touted as a supplement for endurance athletes. The hype is that they provide a quick, non-carbohydrate, concentrated (nine calories—kcals—per gram of fat versus only four calories per gram of carbohydrate) source of energy, but research studies have failed to demonstrate any advantages to performance.
Of all the incredible claims above, the one that has captured the interest of the American public is, of course, the claim about losing weight. How is this supposed to work? There is some limited research data that suggests a modest boost in metabolism caused by the MCT. In addition, MCT are more likely to be burned for energy than stored as body fat. Although there is evidence to support these claims, it is unknown whether there is any real impact on body fatness.
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