Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid. Another naturally occurring substance that is rich in lauric acid is mother’s milk. This post will look at the health benefits of lauric acid in coconut oil and will also address the question of why coconut oil is not widely used in the West.
Coconut oil is a staple in parts of Africa, Southern Asia and Polynesia. In parts of the South Pacific the coconut palm is called ‘The Tree of Life’ because it is the basis of many medicines and these people have correctly assumed that coconut is keeping them healthy.
Indeed a survey was done following a number of people on 2 Polynesian islands (Pukapuka and Tokelau) over 20 years. The test was carried out before the introduction of Western food products (high in polyunsaturated fats) onto the islands. The results of the survey showed that the people remained healthy and slim and didn’t suffer from heart disease, obesity, cancer or diabetes. In some cases the test subjects had a diet consisting in up to 60% of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fats that we are told in the West are bad for us. Why then is coconut oil so healthy? The answer partly lies in the high concentration of lauric acid in coconut oil.
Dr Mary Enig has done much pioneering work researching coconut oil. She identifies lauric acid which is a medium chain fatty acid as being vital in understanding the health benefits of coconut fat. She notes that lauric acid when it is consumed by humans becomes monolaurin. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human body to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, and various pathogenic bacteria. Some studies have also shown lauric acid to have antimicrobial effects.
It is not surprising therefore that coconut oil is such a powerful medicine and is such a useful food that not only makes food taste delicious but also protects the body from a host of diseases and viruses.