Coconut oil is often described as the “healthiest oil on earth.”
This wasn’t always so. For years it had a reputation of being unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content.
We now know coconut oil is different from most fats and is actually good for us. We have listed twelve of the most important health benefits of this newly declared PowerFood.
How Did Coconut Oil Get a Bad Reputation?
- Coconut oil is saturated oil. Saturated oils were understood to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart disease.
- A specific study conducted 40 years ago seemed to verify this concern. Yes, it did increase heart disease.
But, what no one at the time seemed to take into account was that this study was done on hydrogenated coconut. The problems with hydrogenated oils are well documented by numerous studies. Even the general theory of saturated fats is now suspect. Read more about this here: Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?
Coconut oil has been used throughout Asia and the Pacific for thousands of years as both a food and a medicine.
In tropical climates like Polynesia, Sri Lanka, and the Yucatan where they have a diet high in coconut oil, the people are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters. It is now accepted that there is good cholesterol and there are good saturated fats.
To quote Dr. Mary Enig: “The research over four decades concerning coconut oil in diet and heart disease is quite clear: coconut oil has been shown to be beneficial.”
Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil (cold pressed):
1. Thyroid-stimulating: Research shows that coconut oil contains a medium-chain fatty acids accelerate that stimulates metabolism, gives you more energy.
2. Get candida in check: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
3. Lowers cholesterol: It is rich in lauric acid which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
4. Helps with weight loss: Here is an interesting fact about coconut oil; even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss! Read more here: Weight Loss With Coconut Oil. The healthy medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the liver and are converted into energy. Thus the body does not store the fat in coconut oil as fat; it uses it to produce energy instead.
5. Helps keep diabetes in check: It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin. Note: This is not a free pass to eat a lot of sugar and other dumb carbs.
6. Reduces heart disease: studies on people in the Pacific Islands found that their total caloric intake included thirty to sixty percent from fully saturated coconut oil. These Pacific Islanders have nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease.
7. Gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases: Combining Vitamin E supplements with coconut oil through the skin proved to be a good alternative for those with gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases. Study in Canada 1999 University of Western Ontario
8. Supports the immune system. It is rich in lauric acid, a nutrient that supports the body’s immune system.
9. Good for the skin: When applied externally it forms a protective antibacterial layer protecting the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/coconut-oil-super-powers-pt-2
10. Nourishing for the brain: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
11. Ancient medicine:
Coconut oil has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for 5,000 years in India.
12. Speeds Recovery:
People in Panama drink a glass of coconut oil to protect themselves from illness as it is also believed to speed recovery from sickness.
Read about the numerous research studies done on coconut oil: Coconut Oil Research
“Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the anti-viral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria!” according to research by Dr. Mary Enig.
Next page: History and fascinating trivia
- Spanish explorers called it coco, which means monkey face. They thought that the three indentations on the hairy nut looked like the head and face of a monkey. They called it Cocoa, named after a grimacing face or hobgoblin.
- When cocoa came to England, they added nut to it and that is how the name came about.
- The natives of Hawaii anointed Captain Cook with coconut oil during their Makahiki festival in 1778. This was an offering to the gods and was a time of spiritual cleansing.
- Captain Cook and his sailors were struck by the health and beauty of the people on Polynesian islands.
- The Philippines is the top Coconut producing country
Unsaturated oils in cooked foods become rancid within a few hours, even in the refrigerator. Once fresh unsaturated fats are inside the body, they oxidize (turn rancid). Coconut oil does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is easy to digest and converted into quick energy so people are less likely to become obese as the fat is not stored.
Coconut Oil Nutrition:
- Is nature’s richest source of lauric acid which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
- Has a small amount of vitamins and minerals.
- Choline is one of the most abundant nutrients (0.3 mg per 100 g of oil).
- Vitamin E (0.9 mg per 100 g of oil) and vitamin K (0.5 mcg per 100 g of oil). Both vitamins are important for cardiovascular health.
- Contains a small amount of iron (0.04 mg per 100 g of oil).
How is Virgin Coconut Oil made?
Fresh coconut flesh is used also called non-copra.
Chemicals and high heat are not used.
There are currently two main processes of manufacturing Virgin Coconut Oil:
1. Quick drying of fresh coconut flesh. Low heat is used to quick dry the coconut; the oil is then pressed out with mechanical means.
2. Wet-milling. The oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat without drying first. Coconut milk is made by pressing. Then the oil is separated from the water. The methods used to separate the oil from the water include boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes, and mechanical centrifuge.
Next page: How to use coconut oil and delicious recipes
How much coconut oil to consume?
A therapeutic dosage is 3 to 4 tablespoons a day to provide enough lauric acid to build the immune system. That is a lot! So if you are interested in losing weight that may be too much.
There are five oils I use in my kitchen:
1. Extra-virgin olive oil is the best fat to use as a salad dressing. Do not use for cooking. It has a low smoke point, and heat makes it susceptible to oxidative damage. Olive oil has so many health benefits that I include a little every day when I eat my salad. You can read about its many benefits here: Olive Oil Health Benefits
2. Almond oil (refined) is more stable when it comes to cooking) has a high smoke point making it excellent for stir frying and sauteing. What I like about it is that it has a light, clean flavor that does not alter the taste of the foods I am using it to cook with.
3. Ghee is a purified form of clarified butter used as cooking oil throughout India. It has been purified of all moisture and solids so it can be used at higher temperature and is much more resistant to becoming rancid than more purified clarified butter. I use this when making curry dinners and on my occasional popcorn treat.
4. Coconut oil extra virgin:
- Is excellent for baking cookies, cakes and pies.
- Simply add a spoonful on top of your porridge.
- Use it instead of butter on your potatoes or vegetables.
- Unrefined coconut oil melts at 24-25°C (76°F) and smokes at 177°C (350°F). So, it’s not good for high-temperature frying.
- Good for lower temperature sauteing.
- Is slow to oxidize so is resistant to rancidity. It will last up to two years due to its high saturated fat content. It is best stored in solid form below 24.5°C [76°F].
5. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil It has a strong taste so I often use it in oriental dishes. High smoke point. It may be the oldest condiment on earth. It is revered in the Ayurvedic tradition as having potent medicinal powers. Read its 17 Benefits here: 17 Benefits of Sesame Oil.
Coconut oil is also great for the skin:
- Since it moisturizes skin, try it on your body and as a lip balm.
- Excellent massage oil.
- I have heard that it can be used as make-up remover. Still need to try that one myself!
Coconut oil is a fat; 1 tablespoon contains 120 calories so do not eat too much. Include just enough to get the health benefits without the extra gained fat on your body.
How to buy coconut oil:
When buying your coconut oil make sure it is organic unrefined coconut oil.
- Coconut oil that is hydrogenated becomes a trans-fat. Trans-fats have been associated with heart disease because they increase LDL cholesterol and get in the way of the body’s ability to utilize HDL. They have been shown to raise serum cholesterol levels.
- Many commercial coconut oils are refined, bleached, and deodorized, meaning they contain lots of chemicals.
Tasty Recipes with Coconut Oil
Deluxe Quinoa Pudding: (vegan & gluten free) This has so many healthy ingredients.
Cranberry Ginger Bars: I like anything with ginger, but this is a great tasting combination!
Walnut Dark Chocolate Bar: (no sugar): This is a homemade chocolate, so it is actually healthy for you!
Coconut Butter Icing: How to make a dairy free and sugar free icing? This is it!