Coconut Oil: Friend or Foe?
You may have heard that it’s making a comeback, but what do we know about coconut oil? Is it safe? Is it healthy?
Coconut oil is one of two tropical oils that were once widely used, the other being palm kernel oil. In the 1950s and ’60s, there was a campaign, led largely by the soy industry, to vilify oils that aren’t of US origin. The farmers wanted to protect their livelihood and make us dependent on soy, corn, and peanut oils.
The problem is that these oils oxidize quickly in liquid form, therefore become easily rancid. They are ultra-processed, first being extracted, then heated to over 400 degrees, then deodorized. Adding insult to injury, the oils are then hydrogenated to give them a longer shelf life. Say “hello” to trans fats.
So if coconut oil is saturated fat, why should we consume it? The best description for someone without a B.S. is this:
Although coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, it transfers to the liver automatically due to its medium chain fatty acid component and converts into immediate energy so it is not stored around the stomach. This energy is utilised (sic) immediately.
Medium chain fatty acids are almost impossible to find in the food supply except in, you guessed it, coconut and palm oils. Coconut oil has the highest percentage of MCFAs of any food product at 58%.
What Are The Benefits of Coconut Oil?
Medium chain triglyceride oils can help prevent heart disease, and lower the risk of atherosclerosis.
The lauric acid may help boost immune function as well. For people who need easily digestible fat that is immediately usable by the body, coconut oil is a dream.
People with cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease and other digestive disorders, and pancreatitis would benefit hugely from coconut oil. Some newborns are given coconut oil who suffer from malabsorption.
I love using coconut oil for cooking. It’s especially good on sweet potato slices with a little Real Salt, then roasted in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
I also love to saute’ summer squash in coconut oil with some onion and garlic. Served over brown rice, it makes an excellent light lunch, warm or cold.
It’s wonderful in oatmeal, spread on toast instead of butter, and in baking. Any application where extra virgin olive oil‘s taste would be too strong, coconut oil is a wonderful alternative.
I also use it on my skin, especially in the winter. Just rub a bit onto my face, knees, lips, and anywhere else that seems dry, and it’s usually better by morning.
For non-food uses, refined coconut oil is fine (so is virgin, but refined is less expensive). Just be sure to keep two containers so that the oil you use for food you’re not using for other things.
Because it’s an antifungal, coconut oil is great for thrush and diaper rashes.
As an antimicrobial, it works great for small cuts and scrapes. It also doesn’t burn like alcohol does!
Coconut oil is also great for, ahem, bedroom activities. Because it melts at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s an ideal natural lubricant. Not to mention, you won’t have your reading children asking questions about your favorite purple tube. I’m just sayin’.
Where To Buy:
I get my coconut oil by the gallon from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have the best price I’ve seen, even when you factor in shipping.
I’ve tried brands from Whole Foods, Amazon.com, and my local bread making store, and MRH blows them all out of the water. They ship from Washington state, and I get my order in the mid-Atlantic in about a week.
If you want to try a smaller amount, I think Nutiva makes the next best option. Just be sure that you get virgin, cold-pressed oil.
I love nothing more than the slightly coconutty taste of this oil on my morning whole wheat English muffin.
It seeps into the little crevices just as butter does, but in a way I feel good about. I adore the crackle as my teeth sink into the morning goodness and smile.
That said, I know that for my body a lower-fat diet works best. I keep my dietary fat to around 18%, so 1 Tbsp added fat is about all I’ll use per day. You probably know what works best for your body. The Zone diet is 30% fat. The Mediterranean diet is around 40%.
Whatever dietary choices you make, you can add coconut oil easily (and tastily)! Let me know how you use it, and how it has changed your health!
*Top Photo By Tropical Traditions