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Why coconut oil is good for you

Most people believe coconut oil is bad for you because it is high in saturated fats which clogs arteries and raises cholesterol.

It may surprise you to know that the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you and it provides many health benefits.

Coconut reinvented

Once declared a rogue food, the last decade has seen many studies supporting the beneficial properties of coconut oil and other coconut products. Older studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which raised cholesterol in lab animals.

Looking at people in traditional tropical cultures where coconut has been a diet staple for thousands of years tells a different story.

In the 1930’s a dentist named Dr. Weston Price travelled throughout the South Pacific, examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim, and that heart disease was virtually non-existent, despite the high fat concentration in their diet (1).

Research carried out in 1981 studied people from two Polynesian atolls where coconut was their main source of energy. The results were that both populations exhibited excellent vascular health (1).

More recent research

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research found a coconut oil rich diet reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by protecting against ‘insulin resistance’ (cells no longer responding to insulin) in muscles and fat (2). It also avoids the accumulation of body fat caused by other high fat foods of similar calorie content and can be beneficial for weight loss. This is important because obesity and insulin resistance are major factors leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

This study demonstrated coconut oil has a role in healthy diets to stabilise weight gain, and thereby reduce your likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that are sent directly to your liver for use as energy. Most of us wanting an instant energy boost usually turn to simple carbohydrates. Unlike simple carbohydrates, coconut oil does not produce an insulin-spike in your bloodstream.

By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils contain long-chain fatty acids that are difficult for your body to break down because they need special enzymes for digestion. This adds to the burden of your pancreas and liver and you may find yourself with an ever-increasing waistline.

Other benefits

There are other benefits of coconut oil other than heart health and decreasing the chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Coconut oil is also:

  • Beneficial for blood lipids and may increase HDL (good) cholesterol (3)
  • An anti-fungal treatment for candida and athletes foot etc  (4)
  • Used for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties due to its lauric acid content (5)
  • Suitable for topical application to support skin integrity and wound healing (6)
  • Improving cognition in memory-impaired adults (e.g. Alzheimer’s) (7)
  • Ideal for cooking as it is very stable when heated

Moderation is the key

Using coconut oil in your diet is very beneficial, however consuming only moderate amounts is critical as overconsumption may lead to fat build up in the liver, and will not result in weight loss if this is your goal.

How to use coconut oil

Only use extra virgin coconut oil. It can be used as cooking oil for baking and frying. Other uses include in salad dressings, smoothies, ice cream, or as a spread instead of butter or margarine.

Enjoy!


 

 

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