Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Scoop on Coconut Oil

Q: Coconut oil is full of saturated fat, right? If I'm trying to be healthy or lose weight, isn't that something I want to stay away from?

A: Yes! And no! (Oh isn't nutrition fun!)

So what's the deal with fat? We've been told butter and coconut oil are bad (not true) because they're full of saturated fat. We've also been told how great olive oil is because of its high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (true). For a while, margarine, which is made of hydrogenated vegetable oil, was king. Scientists have since discovered that eating hydrogenated oils - aka pure trans fats - greatly increases your risk of coronary heart disease. (I and most scientists recommend reading your food labels and avoiding this kind of fat completely.)

It is essential, though, that we get appropriate amounts of healthy fats in our diet everyday - including saturated fat, which is crucial for our absorption of many vital fat-soluble nutrients (such as vitamins A and E). Read more about why and how fats are important parts of our diet here.

Ok. So what's so spectacular about coconut oil and how's it going to keep me looking and feeling simply radishing (haha, get it)? It's all about the quality of the fat's composition and the fatty acids it contains that make it so amazing.

Some of the health benefits of coconut oil include:
- Making your hair and skin shine (usually from rubbing it right in)
- Stress relief
- Maintaining good cholesterol levels
- Weight loss (that's right! we need fat to burn fat... follow the link below for more on this)
- Increased immunity
- Proper digestion, metabolism and bone strength
- Relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer

Read more about the specific composition of fats in coconut oil and its benefits here!

Researchers are now also exploring the possibility that the ketones found in coconut oil have slowed the progression of Alzheimer's disease in some people and may actually prevent it: Check out this amazing 5 minute video! Food really is medicine...

Coconut oil is also a great cooking oil because it has a very high smoke point and a delicate smooth, nutty flavor. I use it all the time when stir-frying (substitute it in place of your olive or canola oil) or creating the bases for sauces, especially anything spicy or curried. Try it in my Everyday Yellow Dal recipe!

I also carry a small jar in my purse to use in place of lotion when my hands, elbows, face and lips are feeling dry (just try not to eat yourself after you put it on!). I recommend finding a pure, raw and virgin coconut oil. It should be white and solid at room temperature, but melt to a clear liquid when it gets to be about 70 degrees or so.

Are you ready to try it? Or do you already use it? What do you love about coconut oil? What are your favorite ways to cook with it?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Linnie for sending me this great article on the benefits of putting coconut oil in your hair as a pre-wash conditioner - and why it works so well compared to other oils.