Coconut Oil: A Multi-Purpose Super Food (Though Not Everyone’s Convinced)

coconut oil

Writer’s Note: Please check with your healthcare provider before consuming coconut oil to ensure it’s safe for you.

We are almost to the end of January; how are you doing with keeping your New Year’s resolutions? Like you, I have a list of goals I’m hoping to achieve as well. One of my goals is to eat more all-natural, organic foods and so far so good. I’ve been sampling various grains, herbs and produce, but my favorite food right now is coconut oil.

I guess you can say I’ve joined the quickly growing bandwagon of followers who like the super ingredient for its host of health benefits and versatility. Once used solely for its medicinal and beauty remedies, coconut oil is now being incorporated into sports drinks, soaps, shampoos, coffee creamers and much more. The oil is extracted from the “flesh” or meat of mature coconuts through either a dry or wet process then stored in jars. We then can use the oil for at least 1,001 different purposes, from baking to treating dandruff to preventing stretch marks.

My family and I like to substitute coconut oil as a healthy alternative to butter for sautéing vegetables and cooking pancakes. The heat created from rubbing your hands together is enough to soften solid coconut oil to be applied as a lip balm, skin and hair moisturizer and/or make-up remover. It’s as if you’re getting several products for the price of one!

Don’t be fooled by look-alikes when shopping for coconut oil. Be sure to look for “extra virgin, unrefined and non-hydrogenated” printed on the jar’s label. You want to avoid hydrogenated oils because they are higher in trans fats (or trans fatty acids), which have been linked to heart disease as they tend to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Despite coconut oil being praised by some as the “healthiest oil on Earth,” critics warn about its high levels of saturated fats. These long-chain fatty acids have links to cancer and other health risks. But before you decide if coconut oil is right for you or not, continue reading to learn how not all saturated fats are created equally.

Coconut Oil in Moderation is Good for Your Health

From my readings I’ve learned that coconut oil is made up of mostly lauric and capric acids, types of medium-chain fatty acids (also known as medium-chain triglycerides MCTs). (A fun fact to know is human breast milk is the only other natural source of lauric acid.) Our bodies then convert these fatty acids into Monolaurin, an antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial powerhouse. Some medical professionals believe coconut oil can be effective in treating many illnesses including Measles, Influenza and herpes viruses and maintaining a strong immune system.

Whether you choose to try coconut oil or not, remember it’s a fat and not to go overboard with it. The daily recommendation of one to three tablespoons is enough to be beneficial to your health!

Do you currently or will you ever add coconut oil to your diet? Why or why not? I’d love to hear (read) how you’re incorporating this super food into your daily routine.

Photo credit: Phú Thịnh Co via photopin cc

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