Coconut oil is always present in my pantry. It’s a great partner for your culinary endeavors, and the health benefits of coconut oil make it a worthy addition to your next shopping list.
If being able to withstand the heat makes you tough, consider coconut oil an absolute badass. It’s known for its high smoke point (about 350F for unrefined virgin coconut oil). It maintains its consistency and can be used at high heats without breaking down chemically, which would render it unsuitable for cooking. Unlike many other oils and fats, coconut oil can be kept for more than a year without going rancid. Throwing away nourishment sucks.
Why, then, is coconut oil not as universally loved as it should be? Coconut oil is high in saturated fats. During the 1970s and 80s, saturated fats were held up as the cause of obesity and were phased out, to be replaced by trans fats. Talk about your all time backfires! Saturated fats aren’t harmful, meaning we can finally fully enjoy coconut oil without that voice in our head whispering “danger.”
Dr. Stephen Sinatra says:
We’ve long been told that foods high in saturated fat are bad. But the fact is saturated fats are the good guys. They help to raise beneficial HDL cholesterol, improving your triglyceride/HDL ratio—a key marker of cardiovascular health.
Consumption of coconut oil may also help keep you satisfied if you’re trying to curb your appetite and cut calories.
The saturated fat in coconut oil is comprised of medium chain triglycerides (not long chain), fatty acids of a medium length. Medium chain triglycerides go straight from the digestive tract to the liver and don’t require additional processing (via bile salts) to break them down. The body is able to use them as a quick and efficient energy source. From Authoritynutrition.com:
One interesting feature of coconut oil is that it can reduce your hunger. This may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized, because ketone bodies can have an appetite reducing effect (11). In one study, varying amounts of medium and long chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average (12). Another study in 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch (13). These studies were small and only done for a short period of time. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could have a dramatic influence on body weight over a period of several years.
Remember: fat doesn’t make you fat.
There are seemingly endless, well-documented health benefits of consuming coconut oil, including:
- Increased metabolism. This benefit provides an ideal environment for fat burning.
- Keeping infection away and fighting it when it arrives. The lauric acid found in coconut oil can kill viruses and bacteria.
- Ketones, the bodies coconut oil is broken down into, can reduce seizures.
- Reduce belly fat. Studies have demonstrated that an ounce of coconut oil a day can lead to improved BMI and waist circumference measurements.
Thank goodness we don’t have stop at eating the stuff.
I use coconut oil in place of sunscreen because Coppertone is made up of Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 4%, Oxybenzone 5%….huh?
Coconut oil can also be very protective against hair damage and one study shows effectiveness as sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays
If you’ve never purchased coconut oil before, it doesn’t come in a pourable, drizzle-able form. It comes in a jar, solidified. It needs to be scooped out with a spoon. The moment it comes into contact with heat, it morphs into our recognized oil, liquid form. This is the point at which you can whisk the elixir in a bowl with a fork and start a fire without a match. Okay, okay, you can’t start a fire with coconut oil. Its uses had to end somewhere.
So now that we’ve got that squared away, we can appreciate the flavorful oil drizzled onto our meats during preparation, in baked goods and for pan-frying. So how about it? You down to grab a jar during your next shopping excursion and fill me in on how you use it?