Coconut Oil Benefits: A Good Fat!

coconut-oilFor the last several years, it has been drilled into our heads by the media and doctors that saturated fats are bad for you and lead to health problems and even serious disease. Chances are no one told you one little secret about saturated fats – there is one out there that is actually good for you and has no signs of giving you cardiovascular disease! Most “bad fats” are those that are man-made through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation manipulates vegetable and seed oils by adding hydrogen atoms while heating the oil, producing a rancid, thickened substance that really only benefits processed food shelf life and corporate profits. These fats are also called trans-fats, a term you’ve surely heard of and try to stay away from.

The real problem here is the lack of knowledge on the saturated fat that is actually good for your body and your health: coconut oil. The truth is, our body needs “good fat” to run properly and coconut oil is a great way to ensure you’re getting the fat you need in a healthy way.

“Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.

Coconut oil is also nature’s richest source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs.

LCTs are large molecules, so they are difficult for your body to break down and are predominantly stored as fat.

But MCTs (7) , being smaller, are easily digested and immediately burned by your liver for energy — like carbohydrates, but without the insulin spike. MCTs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, as opposed to storing it, so it can actually help you become leaner.

Back in the 1940s, farmers discovered this effect accidentally when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock.

It didn’t work!

Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean, active and hungry.” (Mercola)

Where did it all begin?

“The truth about coconut oil is obvious to anyone who has studied the health of those who live in native tropical cultures, where coconut has been a primary dietary staple for thousands of years.

Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price found South Pacific Islanders whose diets were high in coconut to be healthy and trim, despite high dietary fat, and heart disease was virtually non-existent. Similarly, in 1981, researchers studying two Polynesian communities for whom coconut was the primary caloric energy source found them to have excellent cardiovascular health and fitness.

Where were all the clogged arteries and heart attacks from eating all of this “evil” saturated fat?

Obviously, coconut oil was doing nothing to harm the health of these islanders.” (Mercola)

The use of coconut oil around the world in tropical regions is prolific: South and Central America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Micro-, Mele- and Poly-nesia and most of Asia. The uses are so respected that they were documented by Ayurvedic medicine in Sanskrit from 1500BC in all areas relating to the mind, body and spirit. Early European explorers including Captain Cook wrote affectionately about the beauty of communities across the Pacific using coconut oil as an integral part of their daily lives. During WWII the water of the young green coconut was successfully used as a substitute for a saline drip saving the lives of many allied soldiers. After the war, in England coconut oil was sold as “margarine” and in the USA as “coconut butter”.

Obviously, coconut oil has been a staple in other cultures for years, but is just starting to catch on in the United States, and for good reason.

But what are the health (and even beauty!) benefits?

Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.

Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of variousbody care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care.

Premature Aging: Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.

Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.

Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from externaldust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm,athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as they substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.

HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancerpatients. Preliminary research has shown indications of the effect of coconut oil on reducing the viral load of HIV patients (Reference).

Also, coconut oil is a great alternative for those with lactose a or who chose to be a vegan.

How about a recipe (or two)?

Coconut BBQ pizza

  • 2 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Toppings (amounts as desired):

  • Coconut oil
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Cooked lamb or other meat of choice, chopped
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt & pepper to taste, if needed

In a medium bowl mix flour, coconut flour, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl stir 1/2 cup lukewarm water, yeast, oil and sugar, let stand until foamy.

Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup water. Add flour mixture.

Mix together and form into dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball. Place ball into a bowl greased with extra coconut oil and turn once to coat. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place until double in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Once dough has risen punch down gently and roll out to desired shape and thickness. If using a large cookie sheet grease sheet with palm shortening and roll dough out on the sheet to cover.

Brush dough with coconut oil. Spread the barbecue sauce on and sprinkle with a bit of mozzarella cheese. Add remaining toppings of choice and top lastly with parmesan cheese.

Pre-heat oven at 425 degrees and bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Yogurt Energy Drink

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (preferably whole milk organic, can be flavored, like vanilla)
  • 1 banana, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 eggs – raw/organic
  • 2 tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds (ground)
  • crushed ice (optional)

Put yogurt, banana, egg yolk, flaxseeds and coconut oil in a blender. Blend it at medium speed. Put crushed ice in and blend again. Good for 2 servings.

Comments:

1. You can substitute flaxseeds with almond nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and other healthy nuts and seeds that you prefer.

2. You can also freeze this and eat it as frozen yogurt.

3. This drink is good as a quick digestive breakfast food and gives you a lot of energy in the morning that lasts until lunch.

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Some information courtesy of Dr. Joseph Mercola, Organic Facts, and Coconut Oil Recipes.

© 2011 Copyright   Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

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Comments

  1. Thank you for keeping yur promise, dearest Allison!

  2. Hi Allison May you help me please. I am wanting to purchase coconut oil but unsure of brand. What is recommendation? Friend told me http://products.mercola.com/coconut-oil/ really good but I want buy from store. Please thank you.

    PS. I just moved to US so excuse my English please :)

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