I am constantly on the lookout for delicious healthy foods, and recently extra virgin, organic, coconut oil came across my path. Initially I was skeptical about this weird oil that remained solid at room temperature (which technically makes it a saturated fat). In fact, most health care professionals tell us to stay away from coconut oil and place in the artery clogging, saturated fat category next to animal fat.
Despite this dubious reputation, I kept hearing about coconut oil's amazing health benefits from close trusted health care advisors. So I decided to dig deep and look at the science behind this tropical oil that's eaten daily in countries around the world. This is what I discovered.
Coconut Oil, The Healthy Fat
There is a big difference between animal and coconut saturated fat. Saturated fat that comes from animals is a long chain triglyceride, and coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT). According to Dr. Mercola, an osteopathic physician and creator of the popular Dr. Mercola health website, coconut oil's medium chain triglycerides makes it the most stable oil to cook with. That means it won't easily turn to trans fatty acids when heated. These same medium chain fatty acids are also known to improve metabolism, thyroid function, boost energy and promote weight loss.1
Dr. Nicholas Perricone an internationally recognized expert on healthy aging states on his website, "The plant-based medium-chain fatty acids or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) tend to digest quickly, producing energy and stimulating the metabolism. A number of studies have found that the MCTs in coconut oil neither are as readily converted into stored fats as long-chain fats, nor can be readily used by the body to make larger fat molecules." Wow, an oil that doesn't convert into stored fat or make larger fat molecules that can promote weight loss? You've definitely got my attention.
Dr. Nalini Chilkov L.Ac.O.M.D. who's primary practice is serving patients with cancer and complex, chronic illnesses, describes virgin coconut oil as a functional food that provides nutrients and functions in health promotion and disease prevention. According to Dr. Chilkov, health benefits of coconut oil include, "Immune benefits: Lauric acid is transformed into monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin has antimicrobial properties and is active against viruses. Monolaurin has also been shown to have some anti cancer effects."
Dr. Mary Newport published a case study entitled "What if there was a cure for Alzheimer's Disease . . . and No One Knew?" This study is based upon her research and personal experience with Alzheimer's Disease and how dietary interventions may benefit persons afflicted with the disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. If you have a chance check out this article it is very interesting.
Dr. Ray Peat a physiologist who has worked with progesterone and related hormones since 1968, states, "Coconut oil is unique in its ability to prevent weight-gain or cure obesity, by stimulating metabolism. It is quickly metabolized, and functions in some ways as an antioxidant."
Adding Coconut Oil to Your Diet
With this and more solid scientific evidence that extra virgin coconut oil is actually healthy (we haven't even touched on the skin benefits, which there are many!), I began to rethink my skeptical position. In fact, I started experimenting with it in the kitchen.
I began thinking about using coconut oil the way I use olive oil or butter. I spread it neat on a piece of toast like I do butter, and even combined it with honey to make honey butter (use raw wildflower honey, it is delicious). I added it to my morning rustic steel cut oatmeal (yes sometimes I add organic, grass-fed butter to my oatmeal), I cooked my eggs in it, sautéed vegetables and more. You could even fry up some delicious coconut shrimp! What's great about coconut oil is that it has a super high smoke point so it won't go rancid or turn into free radicals when consumed. I am even going to start testing it in baked goods.
I even went so far to develop a recipe using Nature's Approved Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, which is a delicious coconut oil that comes from Fiji (they are a sponsor of Organic Authority. We love our sponsors!). When I ate theircoconut oil neat, I enjoyed a mild, delicious coconut flavor that leftmy mouth clean, which is a sign of a high quality oil. If an oil ever leaves your mouth feeling oily or fatty, that's a sure sign it's low quality, and you'll want to opt for a higher quality oil.
My new recipe uses just four ingredients: extra virgin organic coconut oil, raw cocoa, raw wildflower honey and a dash of salt. I developed this recipe because I am always looking for a healthy sweet in the afternoon which usually consists of raw cocoa. Raw cocoa is a super food, has more antioxidants than green tea or wine and gives you a natural energy boost. So why not combine the two and make Raw Cocoa Coconut Fudge! It is a delicious, simple and easy to make recipe.
As always if you have any questions about health related issues consult your personal health care physician.
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