Showing posts with label trans fats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trans fats. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cuckoo for Coconut Oil

healthy fats
We've gone coconuts! For coconut oil...
it's one of the "good fats".
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest sources of fat, though few people know it. Did you know that coconut oil is touted by many respected doctors, including Doctor Oz and Doctor Joseph Mercola, as a heart healthy dietary fat source that keeps the body running smoothly, and as the oil you should use to replace other oils in your kitchen?

First Things First – Fat is Phat!

Here’s the skinny on dietary fat; trying to go completely fat-free can be bad for your health. In this modern age of low fat labeling — of trying to remove all fat from the American diet — you may be surprised to know that the jury is still out on several matters related to the risks and benefits of dietary fat. For example:
  • Does fat beget fat? The notion that consuming fat necessarily causes you to get fat has been brought into question by numerous studies that seem to indicate otherwise.
  • Do we need fat? Actually, and absolutely, yes! A certain amount of dietary fat is necessary for proper growth in children and for health maintenance in adults. And fat is a valuable source of energy, carrying fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and supplying essential fatty acids.
  • Is fat good or bad? That depends on what kinds of fat, how much dietary fat, your personal health and age, and more. But at the very least, you should know that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that fats are “essential for normal body function,” while adding that some fats are better for you than others (specifically advising you to avoid trans fats).
Getting the right kinds of dietary fat, and the right amount of dietary fat, is important for good health, and a great topic for a future article, but too rich a subject to cover in this article, zeroing in on one kind of healthy fats—coconut oil.  So, for now, you can do some more digging on your own about healthy and unhealthy fats with the aid of the websites and articles listed at the end of this article.

What’s great about coconut oil in particular?

While several oils are considered to be good for you, such as olive oil and canola oil, there are certain unique qualities to coconut oil that justify its position in the list of healthy fats, even though it’s a saturated fat.

trans fats
Adding coconut oils to smoothies kicks up
the taste and nutritional value.
  • MCT’s — If you are confused about how coconut — a saturated fat source — can possibly be good for you, it’s likely because researchers have advised us for years to minimize your saturated fat consumption. And, yes, virgin coconut oil is more than 90 percent saturated fat. But coconut oil’s fatty acids are largely medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the human body can easily metabolize and make good use of.
  • Hot stuff! — Unlike some of the other healthy fats, you can cook with coconut oil. It can handle much higher heat before reaching its smoke point, staying stable up to 350 degrees.  By comparison, canola oil, flax seed oil, and sunflower oil all become unstable at 225 degrees.
  • Pleasant taste — Most coconut oils have a mild, enjoyable, nutty, and slightly sweet taste.  This makes it easy to use in recipes.  I often add a tablespoon of it to my green and fruit smoothies to make it more filling and to enjoy its other health benefits. You can also use it as a substitute for butter on toast or melted over cooked vegetables and in popcorn instead of butter.
  • Good cholesterol  — Most studies agree that virgin coconut oil does not raise cholesterol or that, at most, it primarily raises the good kind of cholesterol — HDLs — which is a good thing because it improves your ratio of good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol. In fact, researchers have found that Pacific Islanders and Asians with coconut oil in their diets have very low rates of heart disease.
  • Good for what ails ya’ – Studies indicate that adding coconut oil to your diet may help you resist bacterial infections, viruses, yeast and candida infections, and fungus problems. As well, coconut oil can boost thyroid function, improve digestion, aid blood sugar level management, and facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Smooth operator – Coconut oil is also good for you topically. It’s a common ingredient in skin lotions, and is often used “straight up” as a skin-healthy massage oil.

good fats
Substitute coconut oil for butter on steamed
vegetables for a change of taste and a
healthier meal!

Choose the Best Coconut Oil

Not all coconut oil sources or providers are of the same quality and health value. To make sure that you’re getting as much of the health benefits of coconut oil, here’s what you should look for on the label:
  • Cold pressed — made without heat processing to form the coconut emulsion.
  • Organic — an assurance that the coconuts were grown without pesticides or chemicals.
  • Extra virgin — when the oil is produced by a simple pressing, without using chemicals to extract the oil from the nut. 
Even if the label includes all the right stuff, the taste can vary from one brand to the next.  Fortunately, it’s easy to look online for consumer ratings of the various coconut oil brands.

Dietary Fat and Coconut Oil

Here is an easy way to expand your knowledge on two topics brought up here: coconut oil and dietary fat. First, information on coconut oil:
And here are good resources for learning more about health and dietary fats, including dietary cholesterol, saturated Fats, trans fats (trans fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats):
You can find virgin coconut oil at most health food grocery stores and through many popular online retailers. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer