Coconut Oil Ingredients
Coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of coconut palm trees. The oil has many different applications, including medicinal, industrial and food preparation. People use coconut oil for cooking and nutritional fat in tropical climates where palm trees and coconuts are indigenous. Coconut oil is composed of several types of fats, both bad and good.
Coconut oil is extracted from unrefined coconut milk, and is primarily composed of saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are unhealthy fats that are commonly found in animal-based products like fatty meats and dairy products. Diets high in saturated fats can cause elevated cholesterol levels, which increase the risks related to high blood pressure and heart disease.
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One of the primary saturated fats in coconut oils is a fatty acid called lauric acid. According to a review of the scientific literature published in the January 2010 edition of “Lipids,” Dr. Renata Micha states that a significant correlation exists between lauric acid consumption and total cholesterol reduction.
While it is not a large component, one of the ingredients of coconut oil is a fatty acid called linoleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fatty acid, and not a saturated fat. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that has inflammatory properties. However, the body can convert linoleic acid into gamma-linoleic acid, which reduces inflammation and promotes healthy brain function, metabolism and reproductive and bone health.
- While it is not a large component, one of the ingredients of coconut oil is a fatty acid called linoleic acid.
- According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that has inflammatory properties.
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- Coconut Research Center: Coconut
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
- "Lipids"; Saturated Fat and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors, Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes: A Fresh Look at the Evidence; Dr. Renata Micha; January 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gamma-Linoleic Acid
- USDepartment of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services. FoodDataCentral. Oil, coconut (SR Legacy. FDC ID: 171412). FDC Published:4/1/2019. Washington, DC: USDepartment of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services 2020 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171412/nutrients
- American Heart Association. Saturated Fat. Dallas, Tex.: American Heart Association 2020 https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
- Sankararaman S, Sferra TJ. Are We Going Nuts on Coconut Oil?. Curr Nutr Rep. 2018;7(3):107-115. doi:10.1007/s13668-018-0230-5
- Walters, D. R., Walker, R. L., & Walker, K. C. Lauric Acid Exhibits Antifungal Activity Against Plant Pathogenic Fungi. Journal of Phytopathology, (2003) 151(4), 228–230. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0434.2003.00713.x
- Mandal MD, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2011;4(3):241-247. doi:10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60078-3
- USDepartment of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services. FoodDataCentral. Oil, coconut (SR Legacy. FDC ID: 171412). FDC Published:4/1/2019. Washington, DC: USDepartment of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services 2020
- Ko DT, Alter DA, Guo H, et al. High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Cause-Specific Mortality in Individuals Without Previous Cardiovascular Conditions: The CANHEART Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016;68(19):2073-2083. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.08.038
- Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev. 2016;74(4):267–280. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuw002
- Vijayakumar M, Vasudevan DM, Sundaram KR, et al. A randomized study of coconut oil versus sunflower oil on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with stable coronary heart disease. Indian Heart J. 2016;68(4):498–506. doi:10.1016/j.ihj.2015.10.384
- Lockyer S. Stanner S. Coconut oil – a nutty idea? Nutrition Bulletin. 2016;41(1):42-54. doi:10.1111/nbu.12188
- American Heart Association. Saturated Fat. Dallas, Tex.: American Heart Association 2020
- Boateng L, Ansong R, Owusu WB, Steiner-Asiedu M. Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Med J. 2016;50(3):189-196.
- Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutr Rev. 2016;74(4):267-280. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuw002
- Anagnostou K. Coconut Allergy Revisited. Children (Basel). 2017;4(10):85. doi:10.3390/children4100085
- Babu AS, Veluswamy SK, Arena R, Guazzi M, Lavie CJ. Virgin coconut oil and its potential cardioprotective effects. Postgrad Med. 2014;126(7):76-83. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2014.11.2835
- De la rubia ortí JE, García-pardo MP, Drehmer E, et al. Improvement of Main Cognitive Functions in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease after Treatment with Coconut Oil Enriched Mediterranean Diet: A Pilot Study. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;65(2):577-587. doi:10.3233/JAD-180184
Chris Bjorklund has been writing professionally since 2004 and has been primarily featured in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as "Nucleic Acids Research" and "Biochemistry." He has also been anonymously published as a content freelancer for several websites. He completed his doctoral degree in biochemistry at Washington State University in 2006.