The health benefits of coconut oil are well documented, in fact it is considered a medicinal food. Yet it has a high saturated fat content, and we typically think of saturated fats as the “bad” fats. So what makes the difference with coconut oil?
The difference between coconut oil and other saturated fats is the length of the fatty acid chain. Most saturated fats are long chain fatty acids (LCFA) – coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA), or medium chain triglyceride (MCT). Our bodies respond to MCFA’s differently and MCFA’s may actually protect against heart disease and high cholesterol. Coconut oil speeds up metabolism, supports thyroid function, and has anti-cancer properties. It is also a great anti-inflammatory. How great that we can use a healthy fat to help us burn off the body fat we don’t want!!
Furthermore, MCT’s have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin, and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes such as H-pylori, Candida albicans, and Giardia.
Click here to read a great article I came across that discusses further the differences between MCT oil and coconut oil, and some of their uses.
Coconut oil has benefits as an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and a metabolism booster, so adopt coconut oil as your new must-have kitchen essential!
People often ask if olive oil is the best oil for cooking. While olive oil is definitely a better choice than canola, corn or safflower oil, at high temperatures olive oil will still go rancid and will lose some of its health-giving properties. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is stable at high temperatures. So my rule of thumb for food preparation is –
- If it’s going to be eaten cold or uncooked – olive oil or flax oil are good choices
- If it’s going to be heated or cooked – coconut oil is the best choice
There are other great ways to utilize coconut oil – oil pulling is one of them. Put a large spoonful of coconut oil into your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes (I would start with just a few minutes and build up to this duration, it can take a while to get used to it!). People get hooked on oil pulling, reporting more energy, clearer head and certainly healthier teeth and gums.
I love putting a tablespoon of coconut oil in my morning coffee and/ or in my morning smoothie.
You can also use coconut oil as a moisturizer for your skin and hair, it’s very safe for babies with cradle cap, diaper rash, eczema and heat rash to use on their skin, and it’s the ideal oil to use for diluting essential oils for topical use. And remember, if ever you get essential oils in places you don’t want them (peppermint in the eyes does not feel good, just FYI), apply coconut or another oil to dilute it out, do not rinse with water as that will make it worse.
Coconut oil has a wonderful taste and will add a great flavor and aroma to your cooking. Try to get at least one tablespoon per day intake in your food, between meals, smoothies etc. But remember to use it on your skin too as an anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and moisturizer.