Some use it sparingly, MyPlate disagree’s with it. Others (myself included) swear by the stuff. Coconut oil is quite the magical little being. Not quite a liquid, not quite a solid, coconut oil has many hidden benefits. It is comprised of medium chain triglycerides that are not found in most other foods that we eat. In fact, the fats in coconut oil are the most used medium chain triglyceride in all of research, medicine, and food products! Lets further examine the mysterious world of coconut oil:
How it’s Made
Coconut oil can be made in several different ways. The more traditional way to make coconut oil involves taking the meat of the coconut and turning it into coconut milk. Next, the water in the coconut milk is separated from the fat using methods such as boiling, fermenting, and others. Usually, the coconut oil is made using a drying method. The meat of the coconut is dried and the oil is pressed out (by either cold or expeller methods).
Medium Chain Triglycerides
As mentioned before, coconut oil is one of the few food sources for MCTs (olive oil also has MCTs). MCTs are very interesting in that they do not need energy to be digested. Studies have also shown that MCTs help in calorie burning as well as weight loss. There is also some evidence that MCTs can have positive effects on degenerative diseases such as Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s (when combined with a ketogenic/paleo diet).
I think we have mentioned lauric acid in some other posts (like this one), but lets go over it again. This is the stuff in coconut oil that can really effect your overall health. When digested, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, which is a monoglyceride (a fatty acid), that has “antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal and antifungal” properties. I find that when I don’t use any coconut products for more than a week, I sometimes start to get a little sick. As soon as I put some coconut oil back into my diet, I start to feel a lot better.
Most of us have heard the controversial literature on saturated fat . To reiterate, there are quite a few misconceptions associated with saturated fat. Such as the misconception that saturated fat causes an increased risk for heart disease, or that saturated fat “clogs your arteries.” All of these misconceptions have been debunked (you can find out more here). Let’s look at some of the benefits of saturated fat. Saturated fat is a rich source of choline, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K2. Saturated fat is also used as energy in our bodies. On top of that, your body requires fat to fully digest most nutrients (hence the term “fat soluble vitamin”).
- Coconut oil is often used as a skin moisturizer. (I use it myself, with great results!)
- It is a great way to make your hair look great, and it will reduce hair protein loss!
- Can be used as a lubricant
- It is used to make some soaps
- Used to be the primary source for lighting in India
- Makes those hard chocolate shells on ice cream cones hard
One last tip when it comes to coconut oil: Avoid hydrogenated and refined coconut oil. Hydrogenated coconut oil contains trans-fats which are very bad for you. Refined coconut oil is not as bad as hydrogenated coconut oil, however cold-pressed virgin-coconut oil is preferred in order to fully reap the benefits.
Do you use coconut oil? What has been your experience with it?