Isn’t it funny how you remember certain taglines for cereals, toys or even soap brands? The original line is the slogan for cocoa puffs cereal, “I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs”. Just like Sonny the Cuckoo bird was obsessed with his sugar-sweetened cereal, I have found a new obsession…coconut oil.
For years, coconut oil has received a bad reputation in health, due to its high fat content, specifically its saturated fat content. Saturated fats are believed to be one of the contributing factors of heart disease; however, these studies typically are observing saturated fats from a multitude of different sources and typically as parts of unhealthy diet plans. One key difference here is that the saturated fat from a coconut is derived from a plant source. These fats are mostly composed of medium-chain fats known as MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) vs. other sources of saturated fats are derived from long-chain fatty acids. MCTs are more easily digested and metabolized and also appear to be used more so for energy rather than fat storage.
Another important fact about coconut oil is that 50% of its fat is composed of lauric acid. Lauric acid has been studied for its benefits as an antiviral and antimicrobial agent. In the body, lauric acid works to help boost one’s immunity. Coconut oil is also documented as an antioxidant source.
Tips on Using Coconut Oil:
- It’s solid! Well, at room temperature, that is. Coconut oil will liquefy once heated to 76oF.
- Try to find an organic, unrefined, extra-virgin coconut oil when making your first purchase. Most grocery stores carry a few varieties to select.
- It’s great for high temperature cooking (high smoke point of 450oF). Use it for baking, roasting, sautéing!
- Remember saturated fat from coconut oil is far different from the saturated fat found in your Big Mac and fries.
- Be mindful of portion sizes. Even though coconut oil is raised up for all of its health benefits, one should still practice good portion control when consuming coconut oil and using it in recipes.
- While I have only been using coconut oil for cooking purposes, other sources suggest that it can be used for a multitude of uses such as a skin moisturizer, eye make-up remover or even as a dental health promoter.
- Try to avoid partially hydrogenated forms of coconut oil that can be commonly found in cereals, baked goods, biscuits and salty snack foods.
- Adding coconut oil into your diet will not magically make you 100% healthier. A healthy diet is based on whole, unprocessed foods and balanced in calories.