If I was somehow stranded on a tropical deserted island, I may be very well content if I had a fresh steady supply of coconuts before me. Whether it's coconut milk, water, meat, flan, macaroons, cream pie or even coconut coffee, I am totally there, every time! I used to have a coconut tree in my backyard growing up as a kid in Florida and ever since have enjoyed the many treats that become of coconuts.
Well, even better is that coconut is one of the truly healthy foods out there (except for when it's in a cream pie of course).
Coconut oil is a completely natural product that is contained in coconut meat. Virgin coconut oil is extracted by grating and squeezing the coconut meat to first extract the coconut milk and then allowed to stand for up to 36 hours after which the oil separates from the actual coconut milk and therefore leaves us with pure virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is probably the best type of oil to use when cooking. The reason is because of the way it is chemically structured, it is stable enough to endure mild to moderate heats. Other types of oils, even olive oil and especially vegetable oils, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn and canola oils become oxidized when heated and begin to form free radicals and the ingestion of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. These are not the omega fatty acids our body wants or needs an abundance of. Additionally, most types of polyunsaturated fats are GMO. You typically will have a hard time finding GMO coconut oil.
The health benefits of coconut oil are endless. Heart health, immune function, weight loss, anti-aging, energy source and thyroid function are just some of the major positive effects of pure coconut oil.
These benefits arise from the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are found in coconuts. Coconut oil is comprised of 2/3 MCFAs and cannot be confused with long chain fatty acids(mostly found in vegetable oils) which contribute to high triglyceride levels and high fat intakes. Long chain fatty acids are usually digested with digestive enzymes from the liver and take a long time to breakdown.
MCFAs are digested easier making it less problematic on your whole digestive system and they help with a speedy metabolism, which will help with weight loss and thyroid function. Also, MCFAs are sent directly to the liver and converted into energy and not stored as adipose tissue (fat).
Coconut oil has also been found to have significant antimicrobial and antiviral properties which help with the digestive process. When we eat, we are taking in bacteria and some other potentially dangerous pathogens. If the body begins to absorb these harmful irritants, then bad things begin to happen. When we are consuming coconut oil, it will assist us in "cleansing" out these bad guys because of all of the beneficial antimicrobial and antiviral agents.
Coconut Oil and Saturated fats: A problem may arise for the skeptic that coconut high in saturated fats. This is a true statement, indeed. There may be some confusion about saturated fats and that they are synonymous with trans fats. This is incorrect…trans fats are in fact an unsaturated fat. A trans saturated does simply not exist. But what do exist are healthy saturated fats, fats that come from animal sources, vegetable sources, raw dairy products and, of course, coconut oil. The intake of these healthy saturated fats can, contrary to popular belief, have enormous health benefits such as:
- Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased bone strength
- Liver health
- Stronger immune system
- Healthier brain/nerve signals
Saturated fats from these animal and vegetable sources are vital for the life of a cell membrane and hormones and their function. They have important fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and they also help us absorb our food slowly which helps in curbing our appetites.
At least 50% of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat called lauric acid, the same fat found in breast milk. It is no wonder why breastfeeding infants are the healthiest babies, because of the multiple antiviral and antibacterial properties found in this type of fat.
Weight loss and coconut oil-more and more research is out there that shows the effects of coconut oil on our metabolism can in effect help with decreased body weight and lowered fat deposition.
Thyroid and coconut oil-again, back to metabolism and weight loss. When changing your diet from LCFAs to MCFAs, thyroid function and activity greatly increase.
The health benefits of coconut oil far outweigh the concern
for increased saturated fat intake.