You’re probably aware that in order to absorb all of the extremely healthy fat-soluble nutrients in your food, compounds like lutein, beta-carotene and vitamin E, for instance, you’ve got to eat them with some fat.
So perhaps you always add olive oil to your salads or eat your veggies with butter to absorb all of those valuable nutrients.
This is a smart health move, but did you know that not all oils are created equal when it comes to nutrient absorption? Some work better than others and can actually enhance the amount of nutrients your body receives from the food you eat.
A new animal study compared the effects of feeding coconut oil (a saturated fat) versus safflower oil (a polyunsaturated fat) on the absorption of carotenoids from tomatoes. Coconut oil enhanced tissue uptake of tomato carotenoids to a greater degree than safflower oil, a benefit the researchers suggested may be due to coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs):
“These results may have been due to the large proportion of medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil, which might have caused a shift in cholesterol flux to favor extrahepatic carotenoid tissue deposition.”
Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of healthy MCFAs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs). There are several reasons why these long-chain fatty acids are not as healthy for you as the MCFAs in coconut oil.
In addition to its ability to potentially allow you to absorb more antioxidants and other nutrients from your food, MCFAs are smaller than LCFAs, which means they permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require lipoproteins or special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body. Further:
MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system. This is especially important for those of you with digestive or metabolic concerns.
MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.
MCFAs in coconut oil can actually help stimulate your body’s metabolism, leading to weight loss.
There are numerous studies showing that MCFAs promote weight loss, including one study that showed rats fed LCFAs stored body fat, while rats fed MCFAs reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Yet another study found that overweight men who ate a diet rich in MCFAs lost more fat tissue…
Read more: Dr. Mercola, Mercola