I just accidentally smashed a bottle of coconut oil on the kitchen floor and thought, “I should write about this stuff!” You never know what is going to inspire a great blog. Sometimes a Tetanus infection will do that. 😉
Coconut Oil ( from Cocos Nucifera) became the craze a few years ago, mainly because everyone is always looking for the perfect cooking oil that will turn us into anti-oxidant, anti-aging machines. The truth is, there isn’t a magic oil. Even if you cook only with coconut oil for the rest of your life, you’ll still get sick from time to time. And coconuts are HIGH in calories, so you have to watch how much of it you swallow. But I like the taste of coconut oil and its health benefits when blended with other vegetable-based oils.
Many heart docs warn against coconut oil, because it is extremely high in saturated fat. In fact, over 90% of coconut oil is saturated fat, which is a proven risk factor agains atherosclerosis and heart disease. Here is Dr. Walter Willett’s, a Harvard doctor’s, take on coconut oil:
” A 2-ounce piece of fresh coconut contains more than 13 grams of saturated fat – nearly two- thirds of the recommended daily limit for the average person. Ounce for ounce, coconut oil delivers more saturated fat than butter, lard or margarine. Feeding studies in humans, monkeys and rabbits show that coconut oil substantially elevates LDL (bad) cholesterol.”
The good news is that most of coconut oil comes in the form of medium chain fatty acids (approximately 58%) which are extremely easy to digest and aren’t readily stored as fat. In other words, they are more readily burnt as sources of energy rather than stored as fat. Data shows that ingesting a diet high in medium-chained fatty acids improved upper body fat deposition in overweight individuals and therefore may help prevent obesity.
Other fatty acids in coconut oil have unique antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. According to the Journal of American Oils’ Chemical Society, the Laurie acid found in Coconut oil transforms into a molecule in our guts that dissolves the outer lipid ( fat) shell that protects disease-causing bacteria, thereby protecting us from bacteria-causing illnesses. Laurie acid can also attack and destroy yeast cells that reside in our gut. Other studies suggests the fatty acids in coconut oil protect against alcohol-induced liver damage.
One study by Nevin and Rajamohan shows that coconut oil helps reduce cholesterol, decrease LDL, increase HDL ( the good kind of cholesterol) and has a positive anti-thrombotic ( anti-clotting) effect in our blood. However, due to conconut oil’s high saturated fat content, Nevin and Rajamohan’s claim is not yet widely supported.
Medium-chained fatty acids are very stable, so coconut oil is a long-lasting and durable oil, however, if you are ONLY using coconut oil, you are depriving yourself of necessary unsaturated fatty acids. On the flip side, if you are using other cooking oils, you are depriving yourself of the medium-chained fatty acids. To ameloriate that situation, you can consider blending coconut oil with other vegetable oils. The good news is that coconut oil, by itself, is very expensive, and the blended versions are usually cheaper. Plus, since coconut oil has high oxidative stability, mixing even a little bit of coconut oil with other oils will allow the resulting oil blend a longer shelf life.
The anti-oxidant properties of coconut oil significantly increase when you blend it with other oils that contain more polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. “Natural antioxidant” refers to the sum of tocopherols plus oryzanols plus lignans and takes into account a substance’s free radical scavenger activity. Coconut oil by itself is a LOW natural antioxidant and has very low free radical scavenger activity. However, when you mix it with oils that naturally contain more anti-oxidant properties, the blend’s anti-oxidant capabilities increase. From what I’ve read, Coconut oil + Refined Sunflower Oil andCoconut Oil + Refined Rice Bran Oil have the highest anti-oxidant activity of all of the coconut oil blends.
On a personal note, I like to cook Kale in coconut oil as a favorite snack or lunch if I plan on having a big dinner. I also use coconut oil in my homemade facial creams, and, yep, I blend it with other oils to maximize the anti-oxidant properties. Also, if you absolutely are dying to have coconut oil but hate coconut oil ( Oxymoron much?), you can purchase coconut oil capsules. Just ask your local health store or check on Amazon, since Amazon has everything. 🙂
As always, if you have any questions or want me to write about or research a specific topic, please send me an email and let me know! 🙂