Coconut oil – it’s back in favour and the world of nutrition has, at last, embraced this age old tropical fruit. So is it all hype? Whilst I’m not a fan of ‘super’ foods (especially of the Amazonian fruit kind), I absolutely love everything about coconut products, especially raw, extra virgin coconut oil. I’ve had lots of requests for more information on the benefits of coconut oil since my post on dietary fats. I feel so good since including it in my diet, I’d go so far to say, that I’m addicted!
So here are some of the reasons I believe coconut oil is the champion of all dietary fats:
It’s a natural fat
Unlike many ‘vegetable oils,’ the oil is not extracted using dangerous chemicals and extreme heat (which yields damaging trans-fats). This in itself makes it a safe oil to consume. The most beneficial grade of coconut oil is raw, unrefined or virgin oil which I like to use for raw baking and heating to moderate temperatures (up to 175℃). If the taste is a problem or you’d like to use it to deep fry or bake at higher temperatures, then choose refined coconut oil. Refined expeller-pressed oils have their scent and flavour removed through a deodorising process. Always check that any refined oils are not hydrogenated (the hydrogenation process creates trans-fats) and hexane free.
It gives you more energy and helps you lose weight
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFA’s). Your body metabolises MCFA’s in the liver, immediately converting them into fuel (energy) for your body (and brain), rather than them being stored as fat. MCFA’s are small molecules and easily digested, placing less strain on your digestive system than other forms of fat. They also increase your metabolic rate which leads to weight loss.
Stimulates an underactive thyroid
MCFA’s stimulate the functioning of your thyroid gland which in turn stimulates your metabolism.
It is fabulous for your immune system
The principle MCFA’s in coconut oil are capric and lauric acid. Lauric acid is a fat rarely found in nature though it is found in breast milk. It has unique health promoting properties and is known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal (great for candida infection) and antiprotozoal (eg; giardia infection).
It prevents blood sugar-driven energy slumps and stops sugar cravings
Firstly, because it is so satisfying, you won’t feel like reaching for the lolly jar. The energy delivered by coconut oil is the slow release kind which stabilises blood sugar levels, leaving you craving free.
It is the very best oil to cook with
Because it is so saturated, it is very stable when exposed to heat. That means it retains its healing properties even when used to cook with.
Because it speeds up your bodies metabolic rate, your immune system functions more efficiently and you are able to heal and regenerate cells more efficiently. This equates to less inflammation overall.
It’s a great form of skincare
It strengthens the skin and connective tissue, preventing signs of ageing. It is also exfoliating so your skin will look and feel smoother. Try it as a moisturiser, it’s so lovely.
It’s the best teeth whitener
My mum actually asked me if I’d ‘gone all Gold Coast on her and had my teeth whitened?’ Think it may be the coconut oil perhaps?
So, what more is there to say, the stuff is good for you. I would consume about 3-4 tablespoons a day (in cooking or as part of a snack, even straight out of the jar). Use it where you would normally use an oil or fat. I personally prefer butter to bake with as coconut oil, whilst fine straight out of the oven toughens as it cools. However, this can be used to your advantage when making cookies and dense slices or brownies.
Note – it is liquid at room temperature in the warmer months and becomes solid as the weather cools (I’ve had many calls from patients in the past, concerned that their coconut oil has turned solid)! This is normal and if you want to liquify it in winter, just stand it in a warm spot or heat in the pan.
Have you tried it yet? What are your thoughts? Any questions, then post them below in the comments?
More uses for coconut oil plus a video about its anecdotal use in improving the symptoms Alzheimer’s Disease, click here.