Coconut oil has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its numerous health benefits and versatile uses. However, there is some confusion regarding whether coconut oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. Whilst the answer is technically yes, like all plant based sources, the specific type of Omega 3, ALA, is almost entirely unusable by humans. Coconut oil also doesn't contain a very large amound of it either.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Before getting into how much omega 3 is in coconut oil we should explain the difference in types of Omega 3.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body uses DHA and EPA, found in animals and algae, whereas ALA can be broken down and coverted, but we lose 85% in the process.
The Truth About Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Coconut Oil
Coconut oil does not contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Whilst coconut oil has many health benefits, it is not a reliable source of omega-3s. The primary fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid which is a type of saturated fat.
Saturated fats have been traditionally associated with negative health effects, but recent research suggests that not all saturated fats are created equal.
The Role of Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil
Lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acid content in coconut oil. It has been found to have a few health benefits. It has antimicrobial properties that can help fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. Lauric acid is also known to support immune function and promote overall well-being. However, it is important to note that lauric acid is not an omega-3 fatty acid.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Sources
If you are looking to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, there are several other sources that you can incorporate into your diet. Some of the best sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These fish are rich in EPA and DHA, which are the most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids for our health.
For those following a plant-based diet the ONLY effective source of omega 3 is algae. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts. But, these plant-based sources contain ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA in our bodies, but you'd need to intake an awful lot to get enough, in fact, if you were to try and get them from your diet, you'd need to consume 3000 calories of walnuts (one of the richest in ALA omega).
Benefits of Coconut Oil
While coconut oil may not be a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids, it still offers many health benefits. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily digested and quickly converted into energy by the body. MCTs have been shown to increase metabolism, aid in weight loss, and provide a quick source of energy.