By Marilyn, on September 14th, 2010
We have been told coconut oil is not all that good for us. I was led to believe that it was really bad for me and I should avoid food that was prepared using it. THEN I read an article written by Heather Pratt, CNT in the August/September 2009, Natural Grocers Newspaper, that the coconut tree is considered the “Tree Of Life” in the Philippines. “Tree of Life” caught my attention. We mostly think of coconut as a decorative addition to frosting or that white stuff in trail mix. But the coconut is much more than that and is so good for us.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fats. Despite what you have been told by the USDA, corn and soy growers and the food industry, these saturated fats are what makes coconut so healthy. The majority of the saturated fats in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs are, like all triglycerides made up of three fatty acids joined together. Unlike other triglycerides, MCTs are made up of three Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs). According to Pratt, MCTs are more water soluble which makes them easily absorbed and used for energy rather than being stored as fat.
In studies done between 1959-1995 it was shown that coconut oil added to the diet produced better measures of blood lipids than the diet recommended by the American Heart Association. (In future articles, I will go into this with references.)
There are two types of fatty acids in coconut oil, lauric acid and capric acid.
Lauric acid is a health promoting fat whose only other natural source is breast milk. Lauric acid is approximately 49% of the fatty acid contained in coconut oil. This fatty acid is important in infant nutrition and is a potent antimicrobial. When lauric acid is ingested, it converts to a different compound—a monolaurin.
The other important fatty acid, capric acid, approximately 6-7%, becomes monocaprin. Together, monolaurin and monocaprin are a powerful antimicrobial.
Besides medical and nutritional benefits Coconuts have several other beneficial uses:
- Coconut oil is great for cooking, baking and using as a topical for dry skin and dry hair.
- Coconut water is naturally high in electrolytes making it an excellent alternative to sports drinks with their added sugar and food coloring.
- The coconut meat can be used to decorate, but it also is high in fiber.
- The meat can also be made into a gluten-free , grain-free and high in fiber flour.
- Coconut milk is readily available and an excellent tasting lactose-free alternative to milk.
When I first read this article, I went searching for coconut oil, coconut flour and coconut milk in the stores. I could find the milk and shredded coconut, but not the flour and oil. Now, they are more easily found. There is a fantastic website www.coconutoil.com that has many, many articles that back up all the claims I have written here.
In my household we have begun to use the oil instead of other oils. It does not leave a greasy taste and is so good for us. I have read so many other fantastic facts about the coconut that I will share in later posts.
Do you have any experience with coconut that you would like to share? Leave a comment and join the conversation.