Coconut Oil? Yes, coconut oil. A health food? I know you may be surprised since most people will tell you to avoid fat, and especially the saturated kind. Here is some research and information that may surprise you. Keep reading…
First of all, let’s establish what kind of coconut oil I am referring to. I am talking about Virgin Coconut Oil. The refined commercial grade ones are made from Copra,the dried meat from the coconut, where the oil derived from it has to be refined in order to consume, and it’s this refining process that makes the oil so bad for you. In that process, they refine, bleach and deodorize the oil using high heat with the addition of sodium hydroxide to preserve shelf life. Sometimes chemical solvents are also used in this process to extract the oils. Then they may hydrogenate, or partially hydrogenate the oil, turning the oils into trans fats.
So why is Virgin Coconut Oil different? Well, its made from fresh coconut meat as opposed to the dried meat used to make refined oil. There is no need to use chemicals or high heating because the natural pure coconut oil is very stable and has a long shelf life. Virgin Coconut oils have the fresh scent and taste of coconut, the other variety doesn’t and may even have artificial flavoring added back in to give it a coconut taste! It is much more durable than other oils and doesn’t oxidize as easily when heated, as polyunsaturated oils do; which causes inflammation which leads to insulin resistance which leads to weight gain, a vicious cycle indeed!
So why is it so good for you? After all it is a saturated fat, what we all have been told to steer clear of. Well, it has been proven that the traditional diets where large amounts of healthy saturated fats are consumed yield the best results. The finding’s of Weston A. Price and his travels to isolated human societies and what their diets consisted of may surprise you. He found that “traditional” diets that provide large amounts of coconut oil have the lowest rates of cancer and heart disease. Tropical diets for example are rich in saturated fats from coconut oil. As shown with the traditional diet of the Philippines, they have not experienced the health problems and obesity present in the typical Western diet. It’s actually been shown to be one of the most useful oils to prevent heart disease because of it’s antiviral and antimicrobial characteristics. One study where coconut oil was fed as 7% of energy to patients recovering from heart attacks, their improvement was much greater compared to the ones treated without coconut oil.
What’s so unique about this oil is the length of it’s fatty acid chains. It has medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCT), as opposed to unhealthy plant/vegetable oils which have long chain fatty acids (LCT). LCT are typically stored as fat in the body but MCT are used as energy immediately since they are absorbed in the body directly by the small intestine. MCT’s also raise the body’s metabolism, contributing to weight loss. Coconut oil is the highest source of Lauric Acid next to mother’s milk. It’s the most predominant MCT found in the oil. Lauric acid has been shown to destroy several bacteria and viruses that have not responded to antibiotics!
People who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia have reported increased energy levels almost immediately after consuming 3 tablespoons of the oil a day! This is due to the fact that MCT promote thermogenesis-which is increased body metabolism creating increased energy. So the liver likes to burn it, in a similar way that carbohydrates are used as quick energy by the liver, which is one reason I like to use coconut oil in long bike rides, you get quick energy without the insulin spike.
But doesn’t coconut oil raise your cholesterol? Well, being a saturated fat, you may think so. Proven results show contrary.
“I use virgin coconut oil, olive oil, and butter in my cooking…my total cholesterol went down over 100 points …I have lost 18 pounds in 3 months. I will never count calories again!”
Again, looking at the tropical populations that consume the highest amounts of coconut oil shows that the theory that heart disease and obesity is caused by saturated fats is incorrect. In a study conducted over a period of time starting in the 60’s in the populations of 2 south pacific islands where coconuts made up 60% of their diet, very healthy people were found who were relatively free from the modern diseases of western cultures, including obesity and heart disease. The oil also helps curb sugar cravings and keeps you feeling full, so you eat less, also leading to weight loss.
It is the “lipid theory” (stating that high cholesterol levels cause heart disease) that has many top researchers and doctors questioning the accuracy of it. Attacks against saturated fats have been primarily political and economical, not scientific. Saturated fats make up about 50% of our cell membranes. Americans actually consume less saturated fats in their diet than any other nation, but is the world leader in deaths from heart disease and obesity rates. Does that tell us something?
Virgin Coconut Oil- Brian and Marianita Jader Shilhavy
Nourishing Tradtions- Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig
The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet-Cherie Calbom
I like to purchase my virgin coconut oil from Tropical Traditions
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