Why Virgin Coconut oil?

Posted by : Guhan Periasamy
Posted Date : 08 Dec, 2017


Coconut oil and its benefits were long shadowed by the marketing ploy of competing edible oils and been projected as all Saturated fats are bad, however the increase in the awareness of health benefits of coconut oil in the recent years and many anecdotal and factual evidence by Biochemist’s and reports by nutritionists has helped clear the noise and has increased in the growth of consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil.

The major component of Virgin Coconut Oil(VCO) is a medium chain triglyceride known as Lauric acid, which amounts to about 50%, possess powerful antimicrobial properties. There has been growing therapeutical claims of VCO on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and others.

"VCO is considered the mother of oils and has many health benefits. It is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants and is good for brain degenerative diseases, converts bad cholesterol into good one and builds up immunity comparable with mother's milk," Sunetra Talaulikar, subject matter specialist (home science) Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) complex, Old Goa said.


Characteristics of virgin coconut oil

In its purest un-adultered form(VCO), coconut oil is clear (like clean water), with a distinct coconut flavor and aroma and no rancid smell, without undergoing any chemical refining and deodorization processes. It was only in the late 1990s that the clear version of coconut oil (otherwise known as virgin coconut oil) became known in the market. The coconut oil which has been traditionally produced and traded since the later part of the 19th century is yellow in color and made from Copra which is a Sun-dried or other forms of dried coconut which was subjected to higher degrees temperature or prolonged period of drying.

The degree of saturation and the length of the carbon chain of the fatty acids in any fat or oil helps to determine its properties, corresponding uses and effects on human health. The outstanding characteristics of coconut oil compared to other fats or oils is it’s high content of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) with carbon chain lengths ranging from 8–12. Several studies on coconut oil have indicated that MCFAs have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and other beneficial properties for human health. In the digestive system, the MCFAs in coconut oil are rapidly absorbed, carried by the portal vein to the liver and then oxidised, thereby producing energy very rapidly (Dayrit 2005). This makes coconut oil and its derivatives suitable as diet components for treating patients and premature infants and more recently to increase metabolism and other health benefits.

Dietary supplements containing MCFAs and their monoglycerides (e.g. monolaurin) are now marketed in health food stores. About 64% of coconut oil consists of MCFAs, with lauric fatty acid (C12) in the largest proportion, ranging from 45–56% depending on the coconut variety.

The most significant physical property of coconut oil is that, unlike most fats, it does not exhibit gradual softening with increasing temperature but passes rather abruptly from a brittle solid to a liquid within a narrow temperature range. Coconut oil is liquid at temperatures of 27°C or higher and is solid at 22°C or lower, when it is similar to the consistency of cocoa butter.


Health benefits of VCO

Virgin coconut oil is considered a nutraceutical, i.e. a substance that nourishes and also protects and heals. Studies have suggested the following.

  • The medium chain (C8–C12) fats in coconut oil are similar in structure to the fats in mother’s milk that gives babies immunity from disease and have similar effects (Kabara 2000).
  • Coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties that work together to protect the arteries from atherosclerosis and the heart from cardiovascular disease (Fife 2004).
  • It is cholesterol-free, trans-fat free and heart-healthy (Verallo-Rowell 2005).
  • It boosts the immune system (Dayrit 2005).
  • It protects against heart disease by increasing high density lipoprotein which collects the excess or unused cholesterol in the body for excretion in the liver (Blackburn et al. 1989 cited in Dayrit 2005).
  • Monolaurin, which is formed by the body when coconut oil is ingested, provides protection against infectious diseases caused by lipid-coated microorganisms (Kabara 2000). Diseases caused by such pathogens are not ordinarily cured by known antibiotics.
  • It is digested easily without the need for bile and goes direct to the liver for conversion into energy (Dayrit 2005).
  • It stimulates metabolism, boosts energy and prevents deposition of fats, thereby helping to prevent obesity (Dayrit 2003).
  • It improves the nutritional value of food by increasing the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids (Fife 2004).
  • It inhibits the action of cancer-forming substances (Lim-Syliangco 1987).


There are more in-vitro and in-vivo studies are being published on various therapeutic benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil(VCO), recent report published by CORD, International journal on Coconut R&D by Asia Pacific Coconut Community(APCC)  has references and sources of studies conducted with evidences of the following therapeutic benefits

  • Increase in the CD4+ T Lympochyte concentration in HIV patients, ie reduction in the effect of HIV virus
  • Anti-cancer properties due to higher presence of beta-sitosterol and stigamsterol
  • Anti-acne properties with VCO’s potent antimicrobial activity against ‘propionibacterium acnes’ acne causing bacteria



No Record Found

Post Your Comments