Coconut oil is vastly different from most other fats in the diet. Whereas most foods contain predominantly long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil consists almost entirely of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs). MCTs boost metabolism for immediate energy and as a bonus, they don't end up as stored body fat like longer chain fatty acids sometimes can. MCT's are sent straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are either used for energy right away or turned into ketone bodies. It is necessary to note that these fats are often used by epileptic patients who is put on a ketogenic diet, in order to increase ketone levels while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet.
One important property of coconut oil is that it is “thermogenic” – eating it tends to increase energy expenditure (fat burning) compared to the same amount of calories from other fats. In one study, 15-30 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) of medium chain fats per day increased energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day.
Countries that consume high amounts of coconut and coconut oil in their diets such as the Philippines, India, and the Pacific Islands have significantly fewer cases of heart disease and obesity clearly disproving any agenda driven smear campaign against this oil. Without a doubt coconut oil is a very healthy choice.
Furthermore, it’s also important not to go overboard and think you need to add tons of coconut oil to your diet to reap the benefits. In studies they usually used about 30 grams per day, which equals 2 tablespoons. Even if coconut oil is good for cooking and has some powerful health benefits, your diet should still consist primarily of whole, nutritious foods.