Coconut oil has made the journey from villain to victor in the health food world. What used to be deemed an evil saturated fat, dangerous for anyone worried about heart disease and high blood pressure, has become a healing nourishing substance soaring in popularity. How did such a drastic change come about? What made people change their minds about the numerous benefits of coconut oil? This story is tied in with the saturated fat myth that to this day runs rampant spreading misconceptions.
Coconut Oil and The Saturated Fat Myth
The myth that saturated fats makes you fat, came about in the late 1970’s. People were led to believe from health authorities that foods high in saturated fat were to be avoided. Foods such as butter, egg yolks, animal fats and of course, coconut oil. The premise behind this notion is that saturated fat would raise LDL cholesterol, which in turn would clog the arteries and lead to heart diseases. Many studies were done, however they all had one fatal flaw.
The studies showing a link between saturated fats and heart disease were also grouping trans fats into the same category. Trans fats are fat molecules which have literally been transformed, such as the hydrogenation process vegetable oils undergo to become margarine. Trans fatty acids can be linked to heart disease and other health problems, but it certainly isn’t fair to put naturally occurring saturated fats in the same category.
Since the hay day of the saturated fat myth, more and more scientific evidence is being released to prove just the opposite. Many indigenous cultures around the world value saturated fats for their nourishing properties.
The Maasai tribe in Africa drink full fat raw milk in abundance, in China women who can afford to are encouraged to eat up to 10 eggs per day. Take a look at the Inuit of Northern Canada, they used to survive harsh winters eating mainly seal blubber and fish. Modern science is starting to see that the diets of our ancestors were far more balanced, you didn’t have any incidence of the diseases we are facing today. Ancestral diet has a huge role to play in this, and as you can see, our ancestors weren’t afraid of a little fat.
1. Coconut Oil for Cooking
Coconut oil is a great fat to cook with because it’s structure remains intact when heated. It doesn’t produce harmful by-products like most common cooking oils.
2. Coconut Oil as a Substitute for Butter
Use coconut oil to replace butter in recipes, you can make anything from pie crust to brownies, rich sauces and curries. The flavor isn’t overbearing but you may get a faint tropical taste, most recipes that use any spices will cover up the taste of the coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a key ingredient in most vegan raw pies and paleo treats, because it solidifies at room temperature (77f) it keeps treats firmly intact, giving them a great texture and taste.
4. Nutritional Food Booster
Add coconut oil to smoothies to make the nutrients in your fruits and vegetables more absorbable and also aid in balancing blood sugar. If you’re eating steamed veggies, be sure to generously coat them in coconut oil and good sea salt as the fat soluble vitamins will absorb far more efficiently.
5. Make Decadent Chocolate Treats
Mix with equal parts cacao powder and honey for a natural chocolate sauce, or allow it to set in the fridge in molds for healthy homemade chocolate treats.
6. Helps to Balance Hormones
Coconut oil is a healthy nourishing fat for providing your adrenals and thyroid with real nourishment for more balanced hormone levels.
7. More Energy and Boosts Metabolism
The MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut oil create a sustained energy release for long term energy and also help boost metabolism and speed fat loss. Medium chain fatty acids aren’t stored as fat in the body, they are utilized immediately by the liver as a source of energy.
8. Balances blood sugar
Coconut oil releases over the course of many hours in the body, providing a solid energy source to help sustain blood sugar levels. A 2010 issue of the “Indian Journal of Pharmacology” published an animal study which discovered a diet supplemented with coconut oil led to improved glucose tolerance levels, as well as decreasing total cholesterol levels. Researchers said attributed effect to the presence of lauric acid, an MCT, in coconut oil. No more roller coaster ride once you’ve incorporated this healing fat in your day to day life.
9.Coconut Oil Boosts brain function
Studies show the powerful effects coconut oil has on brain health. We can see it is incredibly useful in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s as well as just helping the average person to feel sharper and more alert.
10. Increase Immune Health
Roughly half the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a substance that converts into monolaurin, a monoglyceride which can annihilate lipid coated viruses, gram-negative bacteria and protozoa. Making it an effective treatment for ailments such as herpes virus, giardia lamblia, HIV and measles just to name a few.
Medium Chain Triglycerides
We should also note that countries with an abundant consumption of coconut are amongst some of the healthiest people on the planet today. It’s no accident that Kitivan people of Papua New Guinea consume ample amounts of coconut yet have zero incidence of modern ailments we see today.
Our current state of health in North America is ravaged with anxiety over fat, with obesity becoming an epidemic and heart disease close behind, people are looking for something to blame.
The ironic thing is fat does not make you fat. MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides) in coconut oil have been shown to increase energy expenditure and metabolism by up to 5% in a twenty-four hour period.
Coconut oil is extremely useful for people with Alzheimer’s disease, specifically the MCT’s which the liver breaks down into ketone bodies that the brain uses as fuel. One study showed immediate improvement with mild forms of Alzheimer’s after consumption of MCT’s.
The various uses of coconut oil, medicinal and otherwise are so pervasive that everyone should have this super food in their cupboards. If you want to see even more benefits check these out as well Make sure to purchase pure, extra-virgin organic coconut oil to reap the full benefits. Any other uses you can think of? What’s your favorite way to include coconut oil in your life? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe on the right to our awesome health tips!
About the Author
Chantelle Zakariasen: Chantelle is passionate about food and natural medicine. Her blog, www.nakedcuisine.com is all about exploring and celebrating the goodness of food through wholesome paleo recipes that maximize nourishment and supporting her local food system. She sees healthy eating as a gateway into the body and spirit as well as an opportunity to take a proactive approach to holistic wellness. Chantelle has studied in the fields of nutrition, herbalism, yoga and cooking. She is a passionate mama working at trying to create a better world for the next generation. Follow her antics as she cooks up a storm, and writes about her experiences. You can follow her adventures on Facebook Twitter, Bloglovin’ and Pinterest. Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Root and Sprouts or its staff.
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