In recent years scientists and doctors have discovered the benefits of certain types of fat for our health and wellbeing. Most people know that having too much fat in our diet is a bad thing, but it’s the types of fat we consume that matter just as much.
Coconut oil has been identified as a major “superfood,” along with avocado, salmon, and almonds, and is a great source of healthy fats.
The truth about Saturated Fat
For years health professionals advised the population to avoid foods rich in saturated fat, because it was believed to raise Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood, also known as the “bad” cholesterol. The reason why LDL is the “bad” cholesterol is that it is made of up of small, slow moving particles which easily clump together and clog arteries.
However, recent scientific studies, notably those conducted by Robert Krauss for The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1998 and 2010, have shown that the relationship between saturated fats and LDL are much more complex than originally thought.
Saturated fats do temporarily raise the level of LDL, but they also change the size of particles in the LDL from small, slow moving particles to larger, faster moving particles which are much less likely to clog the arteries. Saturated fats also raise the level of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL,) which is known as the “good” cholesterol and are actually protective to your cardiovascular health.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
This discovery about the properties of saturated fats has made coconut oil a heart-healthy food, but there are more benefits than just protecting the heart from disease.
The brain can also benefit from coconut oil, especially those afflicted with or at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease or epilepsy. Coconut oil is a rich source of ketone bodies, which have been shown to reduce the frequency of seizures in children with epilepsy. The brain of an Alzheimer’s patient has a hard time using it’s normal source of energy, glucose, but those same ketone bodies found in coconut oil are believed to be used as an alternate source of energy for the Alzheimer brain. More energy for the brain means a higher functionality, and a reduction in the number or severity of Alzheimer symptoms.
Lauric acid and monolaurin are two enzymes that are highly concentrated in coconut oil, and both have been proven to kill pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These acids are so powerful that they can kill the bacteria that causes staph and yeast infections. Consuming coconut oil can keep your immune system stronger and stop illnesses before they even start.
Coconut Oil for Weight Loss
Coconut oil contains a large amount of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of essential fatty acids. Medium chains are easier for the liver to break down and convert into energy, meaning that the fat from coconut oil will give you more energy for longer periods of time.
It has also been demonstrated through studies from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders that those who eat a high level of MCTs eat fewer calories throughout the day and feel less hungry.
Additionally, most of the weight lost when using coconuts is from the abdominal area. A study conducted with 40 women asked them to add 1 oz of coconut oil to their daily diet, which resulted in significant reduction to both their Body Mass Indexes and their waistline measurements.
Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has further beauty benefits besides slimming down, it is also popularly used as a hair treatment to prevent and contain damage to the hair follicle. In addition it has been proved to block 20% of the sun’s UV rays, making it a natural sunscreen lotion.
As a final note, it is not just any type of coconut oil that produces these health bonuses. Only unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil contains all of the beneficial substances described above. Refined coconut oil is processed using bleach, which damages the good enzymes and fatty acids, rendering them less effective.
The advantages of adding coconut oil to your diet are numerous and varied, and new reasons are being discovered all the time. Explore cooking and using coconut oil for yourself and see what good it can bring to your life.
Coconut Oil Recipes
Raspberry, Blueberry and Banana Muffins Recipe- Serves 8
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 2 bananas
- juice of 1 lemon
- 75g KTC Coconut Oil
- 100ml milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 50g blueberries chopped
- 50g raspberries chopped
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ginger
- 1 drop of vanilla extract
- walnuts for decorating
- Preheat oven to 175ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3.
- Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and mix well.
- Mash the bananas with the lemon juice.
- Mix together the coconut oil, milk, vanilla extract and beaten egg.
- Pour the coconut oil mixture into the flour and mix together.
- Then delicately stir in the banana, raspberries and blueberries – do not over mix.
- Spoon into paper cases in a muffin tin and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Gently crush walnuts and scatter over the top of the muffins for decoration.
Chocolate Brownies – Serves 8
- 180g KTC Coconut Oil
- 200g dark chocolate 70-75%
- 75g cocoa powder
- 60g free plain flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- pecan nuts crushed and halved for decoration
- icing sugar for dusting
- Pre heat oven to 180°C, 350F, Gas mark 4.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Break the chocolate into squares and add to a bowl along with the coconut oil. Set over a pan of boiling water to melt then mix together and leave to cool.
- In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour and sugar.
- Add the dry mixture to the chocolate and mix thoroughly.
- Add the beaten eggs and stir together.
- Pour onto the baking tray and cook for 20 minutes. The top should have a crust but the inside should still be ‘gooey’. When cool, cut into squares.
- Scatter the nuts on the top and serve with raspberry coulis and raspberries
Cinnamon and Sweet Potato Pancakes – Makes 10-12
- 80g buck wheat flour
- 100g cooked sweet potato
- 10g baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ginger
- 1 drop vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- KTC Coconut Oil for frying
- Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor to make the batter – consistency should be just thicker than single cream.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a little Coconut Oil.
- Pour small amounts of the batter into the pan, do up to four small ones at a time, cook for about 2 to 3 minutes and turn over.
- Serve with yoghurt and berries or bananas, honey and pumpkin seeds for crunch.