Coconut oil is now considered one of the healthiest oils in the world. There was a time however when coconut oil was considered to be bad for one’s health because of its fat content. It was fortunate that recent studies on the effects of coconut oil proved that the belief that coconut oil causes heart disease and other ailments is nothing but an unfair myth.
And until now, scientists continue to do research studies to further tests the health benefits of virgin coconut oil (VCO). In fact a new innovative research done in Sri Lanka by Professor Kapila Seneviratne and his team at Kelaniya University showed that coconut oil contains properties that can prevent or cure many diseases.
Professor Kapila Seneviratne said “Our research has proven that coconut oil in fact does contain, like many others such as olive oil, phenolic anti-oxidants which are known to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
The team of Prof. Seneviratne spent almost five years analyzing the chemical components of coconut oil and the result of their studies is now published in many prestigious publications worldwide.
The research said that coconut oil has three main types; virgin coconut oil, coconut oil from copra and traditional coconut oil (mostly homemade).
The research also found out that the non-lipid fraction of coconut oil contains compounds such as phenolic-antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It is however important to know which type of oil has been used for research because depending on the extraction method, the phenolic-antioxidant composition may vary.
He said, “There is a possibility that hydrogenated or refined oil has been used in these experiments which can lead to varying results.”
Unlike olive oil, the chemical components of coconut oil is unknown to many, thus the research of Seneviratne and his students provides new information.
The professor said, “We identified several phenolic compounds as being present in coconut oil that are not in olive oil. This is also true for the reverse. However all those are valuable anti-oxidants.”
A report from the Sunday Times said, “We found that coconut oil rich with phenolic compounds effectively increased the anti-oxidant capacity in blood. It was also concluded that the highest amount of phenolic-antioxidants was found in traditional coconut oil.”
This research also proves that coconut oil retains its beneficial properties even if subjected to high temperatures such as in cooking. Apparenty, most of the phenolic anti-oxidants present in coconut oil are also thermally highly stable.
Therefore, coconut oil is the most suitable oil for deep-frying and heavy cooking. Studies show that traditional coconut oil has excellent anti-oxidant properties and is sometimes even better than virgin oil. However, traditional oil production is time-consuming and is limited to the rural areas, says Prof. Seneviratne.