Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap: it’s a saturated fat, and we all know that saturated fats are bad for us, right? Think again. It turns out that coconut oil can actually help you lose weight, especially those pesky (and particularly unhealthy) pounds around your belly. Not only that, but studies suggest coconut oil can also help decrease inflammation, fight infection, and even protect the brain from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Strange as it seems, coconut oil improves the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream — the exact opposite of how most saturated fats affect the body. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are more easily digested than other types of fat and are not normally stored in fat tissue. Coconut oil is also rich in healthy antioxidants, particularly virgin coconut oil, which is produced without the use of heat or chemicals.
Read on to learn more about the research that is putting coconut oil back on the menu.
1. Coconut oil is the safest oil to use for cooking. Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it’s the least vulnerable of all the dietary oils to oxidation and the formation of free radicals. Consuming oils that have oxidized because of exposure to high temperatures can lead to many health problems from heart disease to diabetes.
2. Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal food. Its super-microbial power comes from the unique fatty acids it contains: lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid. All of these fatty acids demonstrate anti-microbial properties with no harmful or unwanted side effects.
3. Supplementing with virgin coconut oil can help prevent the bone loss that occurs in osteoporosis. Free radicals and oxidative stress are key players in the development of osteoporosis. Antioxidant rich virgin coconut oil can help to fight the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. A recent study shows that supplementing with it helped to maintain bone structure and prevent bone loss in rats. Coconut oil can also improve the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium as well as the fat soluble vitamins, all of which are critical to maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
4. Eating coconut oil provides the body with energy without fat accumulation. The medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are used by the body to produce energy rather than being stored as fat. Traditional sources of fat in the diet are broken down into individual fatty acids and then regrouped into bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are sent into the bloodstream so that the fatty acids can be deposited into our fat cells.
Medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are used differently in the body. Instead of being packaged into lipoproteins and circulated in the bloodstream, they’re sent directly to the liver where they are converted into energy much like a carbohydrate. These energy producing fats do not raise blood sugar like carbohydrates so they’re good option for diabetics.
5. Coconut oil can boost the metabolism. Coconut oil has a thermogenic or calorie burning effect. This is because the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are easily absorbed by the energy producing organelles of the cells. Studies have shown that after eating a meal containing medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil, the metabolism stays elevated for at least 24 hours! Not only will you be burning calories at a faster rate, you will have more energy.
Berry apple quinoa crisp recipe
Quinoa is an amazing source of manganese and magnesium, both important factors in omega-3 metabolism, which is known for its anti-inflammatory ability. Manganese nourishes the ligaments and magnesium reduces muscle pain, making these minerals a pain-fighting duo. While the amino acid lysine is known to help fight the cold sore virus, it’s also essential for tissue growth and repair, making quinoa the perfect food for anyone recovering from an injury. This dessert is so healthy you can enjoy the leftovers for breakfast by adding 1/4 cup (60 mL) of hemp seeds on top.
4 cups (1 L) chopped apples (about 8 apples, depending on size)
2 cups (500 mL) frozen wild blueberries
1 cup (250 mL) apple or berry juice
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) unbuffered vitamin C crystals (optional)
1 cup (250 mL) ground almonds
1/2 cup (125 mL) rolled quinoa flakes
1/2 cup (125 mL) almonds or hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) pecans
1/2 cup (125 mL) pumpkin or sunflower seeds
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) ginger root powder
1 tsp (5 mL) nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) grey sea salt or pink rock salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) honey
1/4 cup (60 mL) coconut oil
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
2. In an 8 cup (2 L) casserole dish, mix the chopped apples, frozen berries, juice, cinnamon, and vitamin C crystals, if using.
3. Combine the almonds, quinoa flakes, nuts, seeds, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Add the honey and oil and stir until just mixed.
4. Spread topping over the fruit.
5. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until topping begins to brown. Serve warm.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts The Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals that Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process. Check out more amazing recipes and nutrition tips at juliedaniluk.com.