The health benefits of coconut oil - Herbal Health

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

The health benefits of coconut oil

The truth about coconut oil is obvious to anyone who has studied those who live in traditional tropical cultures, where coconut has been a nutritious diet staple for thousands of years. Back in the 1930s, a dentist named Dr. Weston Price traveled throughout the South Pacific, examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy, despite the high fat concentration in their diet.

Similarly, in 1981, researchers studied populations of two Polynesian atolls. Coconut was the chief source of caloric energy in both groups. The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no evidence that the high saturated fat intake had a harmful effect in these populations. Two very popular oils in most people’s food cupboard are: extra-virgin olive oil (a superior monounsaturated fat, works great as a salad dressing, however, it is not the best oil to cook with due to its chemical structure, cooking makes it susceptible to oxidative damage) and polyunsaturated fats, which include common vegetables oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and canola, are absolutely the worst oils to use in cooking. These omega-6 oils are highly susceptible to heat damage because of all the double bonds they have.

I strongly urge you to throw out those omega-6 vegetable oils in your cabinets. Why?

Reason no.1: Most people believe that frying creates trans fats. That is not the major problem, in my opinion. Although some are created, they are relatively minor. There are FAR more toxic chemicals produced by frying omega-6 oils than trans fats.
Frying destroys the antioxidants in oils and as such oxidises the oils. This causes cross-linking, cyclisation, double-bond shifts, fragmentation, and polymerization of oils that cause far more damage than trans fats.

Reason no.2 : They contribute to the over-abundance of omega-6 fats in your diet, and the imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. As you know from my extensive writing on this subject, I believe that excessive consumption of omega-6 fats contributes to many health concerns.

There is only one oil that is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage – coconut oil.

So, whenever you need an oil to cook with, use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes. Even though I don’t fully recommend frying foods, if you must fry, by all means use coconut oil – it’s your smartest choice.

Curiously, coconut oil contains the most saturated fat of all edible oils. We continue to be inundated by media portrayals of saturated fats as dangerous, but now you know better. Despite the propaganda, the truth is this: it is UNSATURATED fats that are primarily involved in heart disease, not the saturated fats, as you have been led to believe.

The U.S. Department of Health and the FDA estimate that artificially hydrogenated trans-fats - the type found in fast food, processed foods, and your favourite pastries - are ultimately responsible for a huge number of fatal heart attacks every year. These dangerous unsaturated fats are the ones you should ban from your diet, not naturally pure coconut oil, which is a better alternative because it contains very few fats with highly perishable double bonds – and has NO TRANS-FATS.

And just so we’re clear, the terms “fats” and “oils” are often used interchangeably, but fat is more correctly considered solid at room temperature, while oils are liquid. But what’s really important is the structure. Coconut oil’s uniqueness is directly related to its chemical structure, or more precisely, the length of its fatty acid chains. Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of these MCFAs.

By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs. There are several reasons to explain why these long-chain fatty acids are not as good for you as the MCFAs in coconut oil:

  • LCFAs are difficult for the body to break down – they must be packaged with lipoproteins or carrier proteins and require special enzymes for digestion.
  • LCFAs put more strain on the pancreas, the liver, and the entire digestive system.
  • LCFAs are predominantly stored in the body as fat. (That’s why most people believe into the myth that fats are automatically “fattening.”)
  • LCFAs can be deposited within arteries in lipid forms such as cholesterol.

On the other hand, however, the MCFAs in coconut oil are better, because:

  • MCFAs are smaller. They permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require lipoproteins or special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body.
  • MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system.
  • MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.

Coconut oil has often been compared to carbohydrates in its ability to be “burned” for energy. However, since insulin is not involved in the process of digesting the MCFAs in coconut oil, you won’t get those carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level. This is especially good news for those of you concerned about maintaining blood sugar levels already in the normal range.

Why You Must Be Choosy About Your Brand of Coconut Oil

As you may know, there is a very wide variety in coconut oil due to factors such as the manufacturing process used to make the oil, the age, and type of coconuts, and other issues that impact the quality, effectiveness and healthiness of your coconut oil. Meeting such high standards is no small feat, but you should not settle for anything less if you want to experience all the benefits of coconut oil. Whenever shopping for good quality coconut oil, here are some of the things you should look out for before buying:.

  1. Certified organic by UK or USDA standards
  2. No refining
  3. No chemicals added (including hexane)
  4. No bleaching
  5. No deodorisation
  6. No hydrogenation
  7. Made from traditional coconut palms only, no hybrid or genetically modified (GMO) varieties
  8. Made from fresh coconuts, not the dried “copra” used in cheap oils
  9. Made without heat processing
  10. Is made from fresh coconuts – opened less than 48 hours after they are picked from the trees. The coconuts are grown and processed organically, without potentially harmful fertilisers, additives or chemical solvents.

In contrast, most commercial coconut oils are made from copra, the dried up meat from coconuts. Using the cheaper copra-grade coconut means that the oil extracted may not be sanitary, and, in my opinion, it is not suitable for human consumption. Other things to look out for include:
  • It must not be refined or purified. In fact, this type of inferior coconut oil is called RBD – refined, bleached, and deodorised.
  • Mass-producing coconut oil in this manner typically uses nutrient-removing heat, chemical solvents, bleaching agents and sometimes even hydrogenating processes, which can create trans fats.
  • Is made without heat processing. The fresh coconuts are cold pressed to make a coconut emulsion. This results in a pure and natural, organic, unrefined, and highly stable coconut oil.

The use of coconut oil is one of the smartest dietary measures I recommend. No guilt. No cholesterol. No trans-fats. No downside. Only your peace of mind. Just to get you started, here are a few things you can do with your coconut oil:

  1. Whenever you fry, stir-fry, or saut√© veggies, eggs, poultry, fish, or whatever, use coconut oil for a health-conscious, light flavour, 
  2. Toss some coconut oil into your smoothies or juiced drinks for a burst of lauric acid
  3. Make your own mayonnaise with coconut oil
  4. Use it on your salads for a tropical flair
  5. Try it on popcorn instead of butter

At one tablespoon per serving, the pint size will yield 32 servings, the quart size 64 servings, and the economical gallon size will yield a whopping 256 servings!

To obtain the full range of coconut oil’s benefits, 3 to 3 ½ tablespoons per day of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is the amount recommended for adults.

Due to its exceptional stability, this coconut oil has a long shelf life of two or more years (the longest of any oil), and does not have to be refrigerated. Coconut oil should be stored out of direct sunlight, however. And of course, there are untold benefits of coconut oil to skincare and beauty regimes.

A great article on the health benefits of coconut oil can be found here: 

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