Coconut oil has been getting a lot of press lately as its popularity as a “super food” has grown. Is this merely a marketing ploy? Are there true health benefits of cooking with this tropical oil?

Here are the facts:

1. It’s consumed by some of the healthiest populations in the world. While it seems exotic to us in the northern hemisphere, those in tropics for whom the saturated fat in coconuts is a dietary staple happen to be among the healthiest people on the planet, with little evidence of heart disease.

2. It contains fatty acids that can enhance your energy. Coconut oil contains a different type of saturated fat than what you’d find in a steak or a slice of cheese. Instead, the triglycerides it contains are more easily metabolized and proved a quick source of energy.

3. It appears to reduce the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s among the elderly. Recent studies have revealed an immediate improvement in brain function caused by an increase in ketones produced by the liver after eating coconut oil.

As with all types of oils, look for organic, virgin coconut oil at your grocer’s or health food store.