Coconuts and their oil have gone in and out of fashion throughout the past few decades. The primary criticism of them is the fact that coconut oil is comprised primarily of saturated fat, and we all know how bad saturated fat is, right? Just kidding. Let’s take a minute to examine whether or not coconut oil is good for you and look at why there are such staunch proponents for and against it.
First, here is a great quote that addresses our silly fear of saturated fats.
The fat/cholesterol dogma is so well established that it’s hard to imagine it ever going away. One thing dogmas do very well is perpetuate themselves, not through any explicit conspiracies, but because so many people are so invested in one point of view that they will always, when given the chance, act in a way that supports that view… the saturated-fat-raises-LDLcholesterol-causes-chronic-disease dogma is so deeply ingrained in our culture and our economy and our health care system that I find it hard to believe it will ever go away, even though it’s almost assuredly wrong or at most of trivial importance. –Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories
This is the primary reason for our fear of coconut oil. The saturated fat fighters have lead the smear campaign for decades. Sadly, as Mr. Taubes explains above, their momentum continues despite the deep lack of any actual evidence to support their claims.
Now, let’s take a look at why so many proponents are popping up in support of this polarizing oil.
92% saturated fat
Why Is Coconut Oil Good for You?
The primary fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, a potent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent that is also found in mother’s milk. Once consumed, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, a substance that boosts the immune system and protects against a wide range of diseases.
How is it a fat burner, you ask? Most of the fatty acids in coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s). These fatty acids are more easily digested and absorbed because they do not require bile salts. Because they are directly absorbed, your cells are more likely to use them for energy rather than store them. This ignites your body’s fat-burning potential and leads to the use of existing fat stores for energy.
Recently, a co-worker reported significant fat loss after making only one small dietary change. (You guessed it. This person added coconut oil to his morning dietary routine.) Simply melt 1/2 to 1 full tablespoon of coconut oil in about 2 ounces of warm water and knock back your concoction about 20 minutes before a meal. You could also just eat it straight from the jar, but I prefer the coconut “shot” method myself.
As I mentioned before, MCFA’s are quickly converted into energy, which perks you up. This means that you feel better, are more focused and generally less hungry. Having a steady stream of easily-burned fats pumping into your energy production pathways creates a “slow burn” effect which also decreases low blood sugar swings and sugar cravings.
Improves Cold Tolerance
One seemingly odd benefit of coconut oil is the improvement of cold intolerance. Along with the energy-production boost mentioned previously, coconut oil has the tendency to perk up the the thyroid and ward off shivers. Pay attention to how you react to a cold room after you start using coconut oil. I distinctly remember working in a very cold office in which I didn’t control the thermostat when I started using coconut oil regularly. I went from shivering and suffering throughout the day to having no problems at all!
Uses of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil comes in many different forms. Pure coconut oil, coconut cream concentrate, unsweetened shredded coconut and canned coconut milk are all great ways to incorporate the benefits of coconut oil into your diet.
- Substitute coconut oil for butter in almost any recipe; it just tastes a little coconutty.
- Add coconut to smoothies.
- Try coconut macaroons.
- Use shredded coconut to crust chicken and shrimp.
- Experiment with coconut curry.
- Make mayonnaise with coconut oil.
- Add coconut oil to natural nut butters.
- Mix coconut oil with olive oil to make salad dressings.
- Apply coconut oil as a bath oil and topically to fix wrinkles, acne, dry scalp and arthritis or joint pain.
What to Buy / Brands to Look For
Coconut oil should be virgin and unrefined. It is available online, in some grocery stores and most health food stores.
- Aloha Nu
- Beyond A Century
- Blue Breeze
- Garden of Life
- Omega Nutrition
- Radiant Life
- Tropical Traditions
- Wilderness Family Naturals
- A Taste of Thai
- Mae Ploy
- So Delicious
- Thai Kitchen
- So Delicious
Now that you’ve overcome your fear of all things coconut, how do you plan to use this fantastic food to boost your health?