More and more recently, health professionals have begun to embrace the benefits of coconut oil. Used to be, this tropical oil was universally shunned. After all, who wants to eat hydrogenated saturated fat (aka trans fat)?
A close look at various traditional cultures that consume coconut oil on a regular basis reveals that they don’t suffer from most of the same chronic diseases as we do in North America. Why? Their oil isn’t highly processed like coconut oil of the past. Evidence continues to grow supporting myriad benefits to this white, wonderful oil—provided that it’s unrefined and organic.
Here are just a few things you should know about coconut oil:
- A plant-based product, coconut oil is 100% cholesterol –free. So, unlike other saturated fats, it won’t contribute to the total cholesterol you ingest.
- Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts at a cool 76F (24.5C). That makes it a perfect substitute for solid butter or lard in things like pie crust, biscuits, cookies, and so on.
- Because it’s a saturated fat, coconut oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated; the saturated fat molecule is very stable and not prone to free radical damage the way clear liquid oils in a glass bottles are. You can cook with coconut oil at higher heats without worrying about damage to the molecule (or to your health).
- Coconut oil can improve thyroid function; it has also been shown to help boost immune function.
- Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) while most other saturated fats (such as in meat, dairy or eggs) are long-chain fatty acids. The MCFAs are metabolized directly through the liver and converted to energy more quickly, thereby aiding in weight control.
- Coconut oil is a natural anti-microbial. It contains a rare compound called lauric acid, a natural anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Regularly consuming a bit of the oil can be helpful for fungal conditions such as candida.
- Coconut oil has also been found to support heart health. What makes it so beneficial? This same lauric acid also helps to lower HDL (bad cholesterol) levels, thereby helping to improve cholesterol levels overall.
Convinced? Good thing that coconut oil tastes great, too! Start by using it instead of butter to sauté or bake; adding a teaspoon to your smoothie in the morning; or spreading it on toast with jam.
Your body will thank you.