Remember a few years back when coconut water was on the rise to superfood stardom? The coconut craze doesn’t seem to be losing steam, and its condensed oil form is getting some well-deserved praise after decades of contradictory health claims.
When I first heard of using coconut oil for cooking purposes, I totally dismissed it. I was pretty reluctant to try it out after years of assuming that all saturated fats were the devil. Extra virgin olive oil had been my go to, and the high saturated fat content in coconut oil seemed like a recipe for cardiac arrest. But after doing a little research, it was clear I needed to debunk my own misguided notions of healthy fats. As author Dr. Bruce Fife describes in his book The Coconut Oil Miracle, many South Pacific populations have thrived on the restorative properties of coconut oil for generations, with little to no trace of autoimmune or cardiovascular disease.
Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids with naturally occurring saturated fats, whereas many processed vegetable and seed oils are hydrogenated into saturated (or trans) fats. If you google coconut oil, you’ll find countless articles promoting remarkable health benefits. As a concentrated oil, I wouldn’t start mainlining the stuff but it definitely pairs well with whole plant foods.
Here are 5 reasons I’ve integrated this supernatural oil into my diet…
1) No insulin spike. With type 1 diabetes, this is awesome news. Coconut oil provides us with energy similar to carbohydrates, but blood sugars stay steady post-meal. For more info, check out this article on coconut oil and diabetes via Natural News.
2) Supports thyroid gland function. When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I also got hit with hypothyroidism. Underactive thyroid issues seem to be more common today, with symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, and thinning hair (ugh). Coconut oil works to stimulate metabolism to maintain a healthy weight and provide increased energy, which also pumps up our basal body temperature. Yay!
3) Lauric acid. Pure coconut oil contains the highest source of lauric acid (about 50%), which is a medium-chain fatty acid. When the body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, this compound acts as an antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial powerhouse. Studies have shown it also promotes better cholesterol levels. Who knew?
4) Heat stable. Coconut oil has a crazy high heat resistance, with a melting point of 24 C/76 F. This means cooking with coconut oil won’t change its chemical structure into a toxic fat.
5) Glowing skin. With skin-nourishing properties like Vitamin E, coconut oil is a dream moisturizer. It can also be used as a topical lip gel as well as a natural prescription for skin disorders like eczema and acne.
Note: for optimal quality, go for the extra virgin, condensed, cold pressed, organic brand of coconut oil. My mom got me the one shown above from Spiral Foods and it cooks like a charm.