Are You Coconuts?
By Lisa Metzgar, PhD, Nutrition Tidbits
This month I am going to go back to the subject of healthy fat. We have been told for years that fat is bad for us, it makes us fat, and we should avoid it if possible. The food pyramid,which I suggest you throw in the trash,has us eating only a fraction of the fat that our bodies need to be healthy. Our markets are filled with low fat processed foods pretending to be healthy and commercials fill us with wrong information.
I am here to tell you that FAT IS HEALTHY! Our bodies need fat for our nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system to function properly. If you eat the right kind of fat,you will actually lose weight! I will share a little information on a healthy fat that is actually a saturated fat. Yes,You read right,a saturated fat that is very healthy for us!
Coconut oil has gained a lot of attention in the world of healthy nutrition. It is the oil that is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts and is over 90% saturated fat. The main components of coconut oil are short and medium chain triglycerides. Three of these components, lauric acic, capric acid, and caprylic acid seem to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties making it beneficial for many systems in the body.
There are numerous health benefits of coconut oil including:
- weight loss
- increased immunity
- improved digestion
- increased metabolism
- prevents premature aging
- beneficial for skin and hair
- lowers blood pressure
- maintain healthy cholesterol
- heals arteries
- sooths irritable bowel syndrome
Athletes use coconut oil because it boosts energy and endurance. The fatty acids are easily assimilated and convert easily to energy in the liver, thereby reducing stress on the liver. It is also great for middle aged women who are prone to osteoporosis. Coconut oil helps absorption of bone enhancing minerals like calcium and magnesium to help maintain bone density. Teeth also benefit. It is a great oil to use in a weight loss program as it reduces stress to endocrine organs (helping to maintain healthy hormone levels,especially the pancreas and thyroid), it increases metabolism, and is easily utilized for energy.
Coconut oil is a very stable oil making it a great oil for high temperature cooking. It is slow to oxidize (oxidation creates damaging free radicals) and is resistant to rancidity. Of course with any food grade product,there are different ways to process coconut oil. You want to look for the least processed oil and preferably organic. Here are a few labels you want to avoid as it is not the healthiest version of the oil: RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized) coconut oil, hydrogenated, and fractionated. You can find healthy coconut oil and health food stores and online.
So go coconuts!