It is the new superfood. It’s great for your hair and skin. And now many are saying that coconut oil boosts brain health.
For years coconut oil received bad press. It clogged arteries, was bad for the heart and increased weight. Now it’s the latest superfood, touted as a cure for anything and everything from tooth decay to diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
What is the truth and what are the myths?
Coconut water, the meat of the coconut and the oil are full of nutrients and have been widely used for centuries in India and the Asia Pacific region. People in these regions have shown a low incidence of cancer and good heart health.
However in the west the perception has been different, with coconut oil as a saturated fat being considered bad for the heart.
Myth 1: Saturated fats cause heart disease. This myth was born in the 1950s, with a study that suggested that saturated fats are bad for heart health. Since coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, it was immediately put on the ‘bad for health’ list, along with butter and lard. Now studies have shown that saturated fats are actually good for the body’s health and well-being. Public perception has changed.
Myth 2: Vegetable oils are healthy. The human race has been eating saturated fat for millennia. It’s only in recent times that processed vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, soy and corn oils have been pushed as the healthy alternatives to saturated fats. The method of extraction of these oils creates what are called trans fats, which are unhealthy. Trans fats raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even depression.
Myth 3: Low fat diets are good for the body. A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health has shown that the amount of fat in a person’s diet doesn’t affect disease or weight.
The good news is…
Your brain does require healthy dietary fat. 60% of your brain’s weight is fat. The brain has 25% of the body’s total cholesterol. Recent findings have shown that low cholesterol raises the risk of suicide, depression and dementia. Coconut oil has been found to be beneficial for brain health, since it contains medium-chain triglycerides. These are smaller than the long-chain triglycerides in vegetable oils. The MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut oil are easily broken down into ketones, which are immediately available to the brain as fuel.
Since your brain can’t store glucose it requires a regular supply of energy. The good news is that coconut oil is great for your brain health. It is now being used for those with dementia, Parkinson’s, those who have suffered a stroke and traumatic brain injury. It can help in memory loss and can delay brain aging. It works effectively to reduce depression without the side effects of anti-depressants.
Add it to your diet for a healthy body and a healthy brain!