Coconut oil has been an important part of diets in many parts of the world for centuries. Recent research has found that coconut oil has antimicrobial properties. It does not promote cardiovascular diseases and may be beneficial in their prevention and treatment.
A major constituent of unrefined coconut oil, lauric acid, has been found to be responsible for its antimicrobial effects. Lauric acid is also present in breast milk and is important for protecting infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections. Researchers looking for an inexpensive way to fight Candida infections have found coconut oil to be more effect in-vitro than Flucanosole, a potent prescription drug. Since Candida Albicans is the organism responsible for yeast infections in infant birds, a small amout of coconut oil added to hand feeding formula may provide some extra protection.
Unrefined coconut oil has been found to reduce cholesterol in high cholesterol individuals and improve cholesterol balance by increasing HDL and reducing LDL cholesterol. Coconut oil stimulates the thyroid gland and thus increases metabolism to consume more calories. Therefore, birds that are prone to become overweight on seed and nut diets (such as Amazons and African Greys) may benefit from coconut oil supplementation in their diet. The weight-loss effect was noted many years ago when farmers tried to fatten animals more quickly by feeding coconut oil. The animals actually lost weight and became more muscular. The farmers raised fatter animals by switching to corn and soybean feed.