Television’s Dr. Oz has declared that the benefits of coconut oil are “near miraculous.” As a result, many Americans are cooking with coconut oil. What are the benefits of coconut oil? Is coconut oil also good for homemade dog food?
The Benefits of Coconut Oil
- Contains fats that raise metabolism to aid weight loss
- Increases resistance to infection from bacteria, virus and fungus
- Increases the blood levels of “good” cholesterol to aid heart health
- Increases memory test scores in Alzheimer’s patients
The fats in coconut oil are called medium-chain triglycerides or MCT. MCT are believed to be the reason for coconut oil’s health benefits.
MCT are burned by the liver for energy so they do not add to body fat. MCT also produces chemicals called ketones. Some scientific studies suggest that ketones suppress appetite and calorie intake. Together these effects can aid in weight loss.
Half of the fats in coconut oil are called lauric acid. In laboratory experiments, lauric acid kills some bacteria, virus and fungus.
Coconut oil increases the blood levels HDL or “good” cholesterol. People with high blood levels of HDL have a lower risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases.
Memory loss in Alzheimer’s patient is thought to be due to the brain’s decreased ability to use sugar or glucose for energy. The ketones produced by MCT are an energy substitute for brain sugar. Some patients have shown improved mental function after adding coconut oil to their diet.
Unfortunately, these benefits have not been scientifically proven. Studies do not show that coconut oil is superior to other oils for helping with weight and fat loss. Although lauric acid kills germs in the laboratory, research has not been conducted to show that coconut oil protects humans or animals from infection. Coconut oil also raises the blood levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol” so coconut oil may not lower the risk of heart disease. Since it is almost impossible to eat enough coconut oil to increase brain ketones to healing levels, more study is needed to prove that coconut oil can help Alzheimer’s patients.
The Deficiencies of Coconut Oil
Dogs have specific dietary requirements for certain polyunsaturated fats. They require large daily amounts of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fat called linoleic acid. Dogs also require smaller amounts of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fat called alpha-linolenic acid.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat and does not contain any linoleic acid. It has only a tiny amount of a fat that can be converted by the body to linoleic acid. Coconut oil does not contain any omega-3 fats.
A homemade dog food diet that used coconut oil would be extremely deficient in necessary omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Despite its possible health benefits for humans, coconut oil is not a good oil substitute for dog food.
~Dr Ken Tudor
The Dog Dietitian
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