The unique structure of coconut offers a variety of health benefits.
* It is stable. According to American physiologist Dr Raymond Peat, coconut oil kept at room temperature for a year has shown no evidence of rancidity. This may be because its high saturated-fat content resists rancidity at high temperatures, even after ingestion.
* It is antimicrobial. The lauric acid in coconut oil is converted to monolaurin in the body, proven to have antibacterial/antiviral properties (Int J Antimicrob Agents, 2002; 20: 258-62; Arch Virol, 2001; 146: 777-90).
* It aids weight control. Contrary to popular belief, a review of the scientific literature concluded that medium-chain fatty acids - such as found in coconut oil - increase energy expenditure and make you feel full (J Nutr, 2002; 132: 329-32).
* It may protect against cancer and liver disease. Numerous animal studies (which are not necessarily applicable to humans) have shown that, compared with unsaturated oils, coconut oil safeguards the liver and protects against cancerous tumours (Ann Surg, 2003; 237: 246-55; Nutr Cancer, 1993; 20: 99-106).