Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Wonders of Coconut Oil

We've learned in the fat series how important it is to eat good fat and avoid bad fat. And we've learned that good fat is not the cause of high cholesterol or heart disease and is actually vital for many bodily functions. If you cook at home, most likely cooking oil will be a staple in your pantry. Before I learned about healthy fats, I used to buy vegetable oils for cooking because they were cheaper. I don't even want to think how much damage I've caused to my body by consuming a lot of vegetable oils through my cooking, but I'm glad that I've found another cooking oil that is far more healthy and effective than any other oil and that is coconut oil

Coconut oil has been in the diet of tropical people for thousands of years. Dr. Weston Price who traveled the world in the 1930's to examine traditional diets and their effect on health, found that people who consumed a lot of coconut were healthy, trim, and virtually free of heart disease despite the high fat content in coconut. Coconut oil consists of mainly naturally-occurring saturated fats which makes it very stable for cooking and it is resistant to rancidity. Rancid oils like vegetable oils form free radicals that cause a host of health problems. Coconut oil is also the most readily absorbed and utilized by the body compared to butter, cream, eggs, and red meat (and may help you lose weight!). What is it that makes coconut oil so special?

Two Special Properties of Coconut Oil

1. Contains high amounts of lauric acid that is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It helps defend against viruses, bacteria, and other pathegons and strengthen our immune system, protecting us from a wide range of diseases. Lauric acid is also found in mother's milk which protects newborn infants from infections.

2. Contains abundant medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that boost metabolism, give quick energy, prevent low blood sugar, support the thyroid gland, and stimulate weight loss (as MCFAs are not normally stored in our body as fat, but quickly converted to energy). Coconut oil is the ideal fat for anyone suffering from gallbladder ailments because the MCFAs in coconut oil do not require bile for digestion, while longer-chain fatty acids found in many foods, need to be digested by bile salts (secreted by the gallbladder). Coconut oil is nature's richest source of MCFAs!

How does coconut oil helps us maintain or even stimulate weight loss?

- It speeds up our metabolismThe MCFA's in coconut oil are not normally stored in our body as fat, but quickly converted to energy, making it an excellent source of instant energy to our body, a function usually found when consuming glucose. We know how consuming too much glucose will cause an insulin spike in our bloodstream and it is not a good thing. It makes feel sugar low and our body thinks we need even more sugar, which may lead to gain weight if we don't control it. However, unlike glucose, coconut oil will not cause an insulin spike in our bloodstream and thus, it helps to stabilize weight gain and even stimulate weight loss!

- It slows down the digestion of food. Consuming coconut oil helps you feel fuller after a meal. You will be less likely to snack when you feel full. This particular point has been true for me. I realize I rarely snack anymore since I added coconut oil to my diet. I drink a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning and cook food with coconut oil for lunch and dinner. I have no urge to snack because I don't feel hungry at odd times of the day and I guess it is a good thing. 

- It improves thyroid functionCoconut oil helps the proper functioning of our thyroid gland. You may have heard that a sluggish thyroid makes it very hard to lose weight no matter what you do.

Coconut oil works synergistically with essential fatty acids. Your body needs saturated fats to most effectively retain and use essential fatty acids, such as cod liver oil. The combination of the two is ideal combination for fighting bacterial infections, provides the fats our thyroid needs to function properly, helps the body make the adrenal hormones it needs to deal with stress, and when bone broth is added to the equation, it gives us special amino acids the liver uses to detoxify, providing excellent support for liver function. 

While researching about how to reduce the occurrence of colds and flu, something my family experience often, I realize how coconut oil is also helpful in cold prevention. Flu is caused by a virus that has lipid coating. Coconut oil makes pathogenic virus disintegrate and encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria. Adequate vitamin A is critical for fighting infection, so the combination of coconut oil and cod liver oil is ideal for preventing bacterial infections. 

Any side effects from adding coconut products to our diet? Unless you are allergic to coconut, you can still probably take coconut oil, because the allergenic components of coconut are the protein compounds found in the meat of the coconut, not in the oil. You can take coconut oil before meals with warm water or herb tea. 

Consuming coconut oil will not only make you healthy, but will also nourish your skin, making you look youthful and beautiful. To derive full benefits of coconut oil, make sure you buy cold-pressed, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil. Be careful with "organic" labels, organic doesn't mean cold-pressed. I know very well that coconut oil is much more expensive than regular vegetable oil but I believe it's well worth the cost. You can buy coconut oil in most organic stores or here.

Have you tried coconut oil before? Do you see a difference in your health and skin?

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

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