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Coconut Oil: Benefits, Buying Guide & Usage

So what's the hype about Coconut Oil? Why has it all of a sudden been hailed the King of oils? Is saturated fat not bad for us? Does it not give us Cholesterol?

Coconut Oil and it's Benefits

Coconut oil is an oil product derived from coconuts (Cocos nucifera) that is commonly used due to its fatty acid composition. It is highly saturated (90% or so) with approximately 65% of the oil being medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). You may sometimes see the term MCFA which stands for Medium Chain Fatty Acids. This is the healthy form of saturated fat unlike trans fat.

Despite popular belief cholesterol does not come from what you eat but is produced by your body's liver as a protection mechanism to reduce inflammation. Without getting into the whole Cholesterol debate as this deserves a post of it's own, cholesterol is essential for maintaining good health. It helps the body convert sunshine to vitamin D, insulates nerve fibers, helps with the metabolism of vitamins K, E, D and A, and it helps the body to produce bile. [Ref#1] There are two types of cholesterol, good cholesterol, also known as HDL, and bad cholesterol, also called LDL. Recent studies show that coconut oil improves the ratio of the good to bad cholesterol. You can have high total cholesterol, but if a large percentage of it is made of up HDL, then your risk of heart disease is low. Likewise if you have a low total cholesterol but the portion of LDL is high, your risk could still be high. Conclusion? Improving your cholesterol ratio is key. That's why coconut oil is said to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other benefits of coconut oil include:

  • Eases digestion. Coconut oil contain anti microbial properties, which have a soothing effect on bacteria, candida, or parasites that cause poor digestion. These may benefit those who suffer from poor digestion or tummy bloating. Or people who have irritable bowel syndrome and Chron’s disease.
  • Stimulates metabolism. One study shows that coconut oil increased metabolic rate, but  effects are short lived (2 weeks). [Ref#3]
  • Aids Weight loss. Satisfies hunger longer. Studies also show coconut oil has fat reducing effect for those who are obese.  [Ref#4]
  • Treats skin conditions (eg. Eczema) and slows fine lines. The Lauric acid in the coconut fights off fungal infections. Apply coconut oil directly to your skin.
  • Increases Immunity. The lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid contains antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral prosperities to boost the immune system.
  • Relieves kidney problem, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, dental care and bone strength.
  • Ability to cook at high temperatures. Because coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fatty acid, it gives it a higher smoking temperature than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils. Use in replacement of olive oil as your preferred cooking oil as olive oil oxidises at high temperatures, creating free radicals.

This is a good video from Dr Mercola summarising why Coconut Oil is good for us.

For more information on the benefits of coconut oil read “The coconut oil miracle” by Bruce Fife.  Alternatively visit his website at: http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/

Coconut Oil in the Media

Miranda Kerr's secret
http://today.ninemsn.com.au/healthandbeauty/8290418/miranda-kerrs-secret

Coconut on Dr OZ
Part 1 - http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/coconut-oil-super-powers-pt-1
Part 2 - http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/coconut-oil-super-powers-pt-2

Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was a Cure?” by Dr Mary T Newport
Dr Mary T.Newport M.D. has provided care to newborns in Florida since 1983 and is currently the founding director of the newborn intensive care unit at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. When Dr. Mary T. Newport’s beloved husband, Steve, first showed signs of Alzheimer's disease she began avidly researching ways to keep him functional for as long as possible. When she gave Steve about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil at breakfast before a memory test that he had previously failed, Steve miraculously passed the test. Since then, Steve continues to maintain improvement while taking daily doses of coconut oil and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil with meals.

For more information read “Alzheimer's Disease: What If There Was a Cure?

What to look for when Buying Coconut Oil?

There are many brands and types of coconut oil. So what should you look out for? Super expensive does not necessarily mean the best however it is often a good indication on the purity and quality of the ingredients. Picking the right product will make a difference in taste, aroma and nutrient value.

Extra Virgin/Virgin vs RDB (Refined Bleached or deodorized)

Extra Virgin and Virgin is used synonymously. These are less processed and hence retain more coconut flavour and nutrients. RDB are lower grade oils as the essential fatty acids have been stripped out of the oil during the manufacturing process due to exposure to excessive heat or chemicals. Some people may preferred the refined coconut oil for cooking, as there is no coconut taste.

Certified organic

Organic certification lets you know the coconuts were grown as naturally as possible with no pesticides, artificial fertilizers or food additives. If you want 100% natural then this is what you should look for.

Dried vs Wet Processed

Coconut oil can either be extracted from "dried copra" (which is coconut meat left to dry in the sun for a few days) OR fresh coconut meat generally extracted within a few hours of opening. The later is open referred as as "Wet processing" and is the higher quality oil with better aroma or fragrance.

Non-hydrogenated

Yes, even coconut oil can be hydrogenated particularly those coming out of Asia. Real virgin coconut oil shuld not contain any hydrogenated fats. Check the label to ensure you're not getting these dangerous fats in your oil.

Cold Press vs Expeller  vs Centrifugal

The differences between these processing method can be somewhat confusing. There is so many conflicting views on the Internet. From what we can gather, because the coconut oil is a highly stable fat and will not go rancid, all methods produce healthy oils.  The impact would be in taste. If you prefer a milder taste oil, than go for centrifugal. If you prefer a more coconutty taste, than go for Cold or Expeller Press. Neither cold or expeller press are "raw" as both methods are subjected to heat. This this is what we found.

Cold Press extracts the milk at a temperature below 60 Degrees Celsius. The process can use either fresh coconut (wet) or dried copra. Cold pressed coconut oil offers rich coconut flavor and the higher nutrient content.

Expeller Press uses mechanical methods to increase oil yield. Although no external pressure is applied, friction can cause the temperature to rise to 99 Degrees Celsius. The higher temperatures can cause loss of aromatics and nutrients but is used due to increase yield. [Ref#5]

If you can shed more light on the differences feel free to let us know.

FAQ

Why is coconut oil solid?

Coconut oil has a high melting point and would only stay in liquid form above 25 degrees Celsius (or 76-78 Fahrenheit).  In Australia, at least for most of the year the oil is semi solid.

Do I need to refrigerate my Coconut oil?

You don't need to refrigerate your coconut oil.  A good quality coconut oil can last from 3-7 years in your pantry due to it’s natural antioxidants. Store out of direct sunlight.

How to use coconut oil?

There are many ways to use Coconut oil, in ones diet or topically on your hair or skin. It is an excellent source of energy and when ingested as a food adds both flavour and therapeutic benefits. Below are just some suggestions.

  1. As a health drink tonic. Add some to your smoothies.
  2. Bulletproof coffee. Add as creamer to your coffee.
  3. Great cooking oil. It will not oxidise or go rancid.
  4. Use as a spread on toast.
  5. As a replacement for butters in baking.
  6. Use it as a skin and hair moisturizer.
  7. Oil Pulling is a very simple and effective way to detox your body. It is an age old ancient Ayurvedic healing tradition that has been around for hundreds of years.The process is most effective when done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You simply put a tablespoon of coconut oil inside your mouth and swish it around for 10-15 minutes and then spit it out and rinse or wash your mouth and teeth clean. The enzymes in the fat literally ‘pull’ toxins, pus and mucus from inside your body’s cells, blood and gut. The antibacterial properties of coconut oil can help with clearing gum disease and tooth infection. It is known to also improve digestion because of its detoxifying effects on the gut.
  8. Or many people simply eat it by the spoonful.

References

Ref#1 -  www.coconutoilfacts.org
Ref#2 - www.examine.com
Ref#3 - Papamandjaris AA, White MD, Jones PJ. Components of total energy expenditure in healthy young women are not affected after 14 days of feeding with medium-versus long-chain triglycerides. Obes Res. (1999)
Ref#4 - Binnert C, et al. Influence of human obesity on the metabolic fate of dietary long- and medium-chain triacylglycerols. Am J Clin Nutr. (1998)
Ref#5 - http://www.livestrong.com/article/287991-what-is-the-difference-between-expeller-pressed-coconut-oil-cold-pressed-coconut-oil/

Wodnut

Passionate about eating healthy, training dirty and looking and feeling great. Read more on About Us.

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