In the early 1970’s the USDA began its smear campaign on saturated fat. It was effective enough to convince my stubborn Eastern European mother to switch her family from butter to trans fat-laden margarine. Bad choice mom. We now know trans-fats are genuinely evil. Are other saturated fats really so bad? The science is continually evolving but it turns out saturated fats are not all created equal (particularly man made trans fats). Coconut oil is unlike any other saturated fat, might just be healthy for you and may even contribute to weight loss.
Pure virgin coconut oil contains 92% saturated fat — the highest amount of saturated fat of any fat (butter is only 63% saturated). Based on conventional thinking, coconut oil is surely food’s version of Satan reincarnate, right? Not so fast. Many smarter people than me are now claiming this previously demonized fruit oil to be a “super-food”. Say what? Virgin coconut oil, which is not chemically processed, is primarily made up of MCT (medium chain triglycerides). MCT’s are unlike their sinistral cousins the longer chained fatty-acids (found in most vegetable oils) because they are easily digested, quickly converted to energy and are not stored as fat.
“MCT increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure as well as reduce food intake and beneficially alter body composition.” –International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition
Coconut oil is also the largest provider of lauric acid. The only other natural place this miracle ingredient can be found in abundance is in human breast milk. It confers huge amounts of antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Most people who regularly ingest coconut oil and/or breast milk claim to experience less sickness. This is thought to be due to the high amounts of lauric acid.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
- Research shows it decreases abdominal fat
- It increases your good cholesterol – HDL
- It is a great substitute for butter particularly in baking (Vegans and Kosher Jews love it!)
- It can help our bodies build resistance to both viruses, bacteria and it also helps fight off yeast, fungus, and candida.
- Improves blood sugar and insulin control.
- Helps strengthen mineral absorption, which is important for healthy teeth and bones.
- Raises metabolic rate.
- All fats decrease your hunger but MCTs do so by lowering your ghrelin output (homrone that makes you hungry).
- Helps increase endurance levels during high-intensity workouts.
Coconut Water Is Not So Great:
Remember the time when local supermarkets not only didn’t carry coconut water but never heard of it? This was only a few years ago. The coconut water business is booming and may reach 1 billion dollars in U.S. sales in the next year or two. Despite its improving popularity coconut water is still not better than water. It is yet another obsolete sports drink filled with extra sugars and calories the body does not need. Most people would do well to steer clear of this in vogue beverage. Unsweetened coffee, tea, water, seltzer and the occasional glass of wine should make up the bulk of your daily beverage choices.
On the other hand, I recommend you switch your long chain triglyceride fats like canola, corn, and soybean oil for the healthier (MCT) coconut oil. It can be used in high heat cooking and adds an amazing flavor to roasted sweet potatoes and muffins among other things. I also like to add 1 tablespoon to my morning coffee for an increased boost in energy and health.
- Make sure you purchase “virgin” coconut oil. Most of the other stuff is refined using a chemical distillation process dependent on lye or other harsh solvents, or they’re made from the rancid oil byproducts leftover from creating dessicated coconut flakes.
- As far as I know, there is no universal difference between “extra virgin” and “virgin” coconut oil. Either one is a good choice if its organic.
- Try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons to your daily diet and see how you feel. If you are anything like me you will feel less hungry, bloated and tired. It has been a wonderful addition to my diet.
1. BMC Gastroenterology: Coconut oil Protects against Fatty Livers
2. NYtimes: Coconut Oil Once a Villain, Charms Health Food
3. Lipids: Coconut Oil Intake and Ab Fat
4. Pharmacological: Virgin Coconut Oil and Visceral Fat