Coconut oil: The new superfood

Benefits of coconut oilRon Burgundy isn’t the only thing making a comeback this year. Coconut oil is back in the spotlight too. For a long time, coconut oil has been cursed with a bad reputation (its high saturated fat content made it a victim of the low-fat craze), but recently its image has improved.

So why the shift? Simply put, not all saturated fats have the same impact on our bodies. While some, like those found in red meat and dairy, can have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels and heart health, researchers have found that the saturated fats in coconut oil don’t do the same damage.

In fact, it’s the healthy fats in coconut oil that are now giving it a wholesome reputation. It’s been shown to:

  • Fight off viruses and bacteria
  • Lower cholesterol, increase energy and improve digestion
  • Reduce abdominal fat and hunger
  • Moisturize your skin and hair when applied directly to it

If you’ve never used coconut oil before, you should know that there are two types. Virgin coconut oil tastes and smells like actual coconut, offers loads of antioxidants and is great for baking. If coconut is not your flavor-of-choice, try refined or expeller-pressed coconut oil, which is perfect for higher-heat cooking on the stove. At room temperature, coconut oil is a solid, so you’ll need to melt it before using it for baking and cooking. If you’re using it to moisturize your skin or hair, you can skip that step since it softens in your hand.

So what’s the best way to use coconut oil? There are literally hundreds of ways, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • Use it to replace vegetable oils, butter or shortening when baking brownies, cookies and any other sort of sweet treats.
  • Toss your favorite winter vegetables, like butternut squash or beets, with coconut oil and your favorite seasoning and roast in the oven until golden brown.
  • Place a little coconut oil on to a damp washcloth and you have a natural makeup remover.
  • Rub coconut oil in damp hair and allow it to sit for 30 minutes for soft, shiny hair.
  • Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your morning coffee instead of creamer.  It will transport you to Hawaii, helping you escape wintry Michigan for a moment (at least in your mind).

 

Photo credit: Chiot’s Run

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  1. David Brown 1 year ago

    Quote from article: ” Simply put, not all saturated fats have the same impact on our bodies. While some, like those found in red meat and dairy, can have a negative impact on your cholesterol levels and heart health, researchers have found that the saturated fats in coconut oil don’t do the same damage.”

    Quote from Page 1 of “The Modern Nutritional Diseases: and How to Prevent Them” (Second Edition) by Fred and Alice Ottoboni: “The true causes of the nutritional diseases discussed in this book have been the subject of controversy since the 1950s, when heart disease began to be recognized as a major problem. For many years, the position of the American government, nutrition academia, and the medical establishment has been that our current epidemics of chronic debilitating diseases are caused by a diet that contains too much red meat, saturated animal fat and cholesterol, and an insufficiency of vegetable seed oils, vegetables, and grain-based carbohydrate foods. Over the years, a few physicians and scientists have argued to no avail that the government-sponsored diet is the problem and that a diet resembling that on which the human genome evolved would prevent or at least reduce the risk of these diseases. The truth of this argument is well documented in the scientific literature, Its acceptance is vital to public health.”

    So, if saturated fats are not causing heart disease, what is? From page 191 of The Modern Nutritional Diseases: “BIOCHEMICAL LESSON: The significant point is that good health depends on regulating the D5D enzyme. High insulin levels due to dietary sugar and starch and high dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, stimulate the D5D enzyme, and move the biochemical set point from normal toward inflammation. On the other hand, control of dietary sugar and starch, reduction of LA in the diet, and a daily supplement of fish oil to provide EPA will inhibit the D5D enzyme so that the appropriate amounts of both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids are produced. Keep in mind that all of the eicosanoids, both the so-called good and bad, are important. The body is designed to use eicosanoids with opposing effects to control vital functions. In a state of optimum health, the good and the bad eicosanoids balance one another.”

    I’ve been perusing popular nutrition literature and scientific journals for more than 36 years. I learned, early on, to limit added sugars. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize, until about 4 years ago, that I was inadvertently consuming excessive amounts of omega-6 lenoleic acid (LA). I should add that I deliberately consumed a diet rich in saturated (mostly dairy) fats for most of my adult life, apparently without ill effect. At first, I was uncertain that I was doing the right thing because of the forceful and incessant media and public health messages about saturated fats, cholesterol, and heart disease. But as I researched the matter, I realized that the diet/heart hypothesis was based on untested assumptions about the impact of saturated fat intake on cholesterol levels. Moreover, the currently accepted safe upper bound for total cholesterol falls on the lower end of a curve ( http://perfecthealthdiet.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/O-Primitivo-Cholesterol.jpg ) wherein total cholesterol is plotted against mortality. The curve suggests that the healthiest cholesterol levels lie between 200 and 240 mg/dL. Indeed, the French had an average cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL and a heart disease mortality rate 1/3 that of Americans a decade or so ago.

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