Why Coconut is a Healthier Oil

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Raena Morgan: Bruce, when we think of fats, most of us don't think in terms of short chain, long chain, medium chain.  Could you explain that?

Dr. Bruce Fife: Yes.  The fats and oils in our diet are composed of fatty acids.  And you can classify these fatty acids into three basic categories, depending on their length, or their length of carbon chain.  And so you've got short chain fatty acids, medium chain fatty acids and long chain fatty acids.

Morgan: And this is significant, right?

Fife: This is very significant because our body processes the fats depending on their... length of their chain.  So the metabolic effects of these fats depends on their length.  So the length is very important.

Morgan: What would be the length of the coconut oil, for example?

Fife:  Well, coconut oil is very unique.  Most of the fats in our diet, I would estimate 95-100% of the fats that we eat every day, are composed of long chain fatty acids.

Morgan: Which fats would be, typical would be...

Fife: Which would be corn oil, beef, lard, butter, are all composed predominantly or almost entirely of long chain fatty acids.  

Morgan: Ok.

Fife: Now coconut oil is unique because it is composed predominantly of medium chain fatty acids.  And because of this, it has totally different affects on the body and on metabolism.  And the medium chain fatty acids is the primary reason why coconut oil has all of it's health benefits.  

Morgan:  Some of those health benefits would be...?

Fife:  One of them is they have antimicrobial properties, capable of destroying disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi.  They also digest very easy, so it's good for metabolism.  And anybody that has any digestive concerns, who have problems with digestion, coconut oil is the best oil for them because it digests very easily.  It helps with blood sugar, so for diabetics.  It has anti-cancer properties.  There are many health benefits associated with the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil.  

Morgan: So someone with digestive problems, using coconut oil will see some relief?

Fife:  Definitely.  People, for example, have gallbladder disease, or people who just have difficulty digesting fats, they can actually eat coconut oil, without the problems associated with fats composed of long chain fatty acids.

Morgan: Which is... composes or comprises most of our diet, is the long chain.

Fife: Right.  Right.  And includes most every vegetable oil you buy...

Morgan: Really?

Fife:  ... such as corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil.  All of these are 100% long chain fatty acids.



Dr. Bruce Fife explains the different kinds of fats and how the body processes each kind. He also explains what makes coconut oil different from so many other fats and why that makes it a more healthy fat.

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