Coconut Oil: Get the Skinny On This Remarkable Fat!
You’ve probably observed that the natural health world has gone bananas for coconut oil. It’s being consumed in everything from coffee and smoothies to desserts and baked goods.
Credit both the popular weight-loss, high fat/low carbohydrate Ketogenic diet and veganism for helping to fuel the craze. With its high smoke point, a growing number of Americans are switching out other vegetable oils and butter for coconut oil in their cooking and baking.
Yet, with its high saturated fat content (82 percent) you may be wondering, is coconut oil good for you?
Coconut Oil: It’s Complicated
Most medical institutions (Harvard Medical School, The American Heart Association, etc.) view a diet high in saturated fat as a risk factor for heart problems, because research has shown that it elevates LDL cholesterol levels. They generally recommend using coconut oil sparingly, suggesting saturated fat should make up just 10 percent of your diet.
However, in 2010, a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary or cardiovascular issues.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconuts have been a staple food of tropical cultures for millennia. Two epidemiological studies examining the diets of tropical cultures showed very low incidence of heart problems, although researchers point out that other lifestyle factors played a role in their heart health.
Additional studies suggest potential health benefits of coconut oil: it may support weight loss, improve brain function, and help regulate cholesterol to healthy levels. These benefits, although far from proven, are nonetheless compelling. Though more research is needed to change the minds of medical experts, consumers don’t seem to be bothered by such concerns.
Unlike saturated animal fat, which links together in chains called long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil’s saturated fat is made up of medium-chain fatty acids. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil – lauric, caprylic, and capric acids – are metabolized differently in the body than other fats with long chains.
MCTs are readily digested and absorbed through the liver and deliver energy quickly. It’s believed that this makes them less likely to be stored as fat and contribute to weight problems and high cholesterol. It’s also theorized that they help stoke the metabolism.
MCTs are converted in the liver to ketones, which are a great backup fuel for the brain and for our bodies. This makes it a popular Keto diet oil. Coconut oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
It’s now easier to understand why, despite its saturated fat content, health enthusiasts are embracing this truly unique tropical fat.
Until further research validates more clearly the health benefits of coconut oil, it’s probably best to enjoy it in moderation.
10 Easy Ways to Use Coconut Oil In Your Home
1. Treat and Condition Wood Items
The moisturizing and antimicrobial properties of coconut oil make it a fantastic conditioner and sanitizer for many wood items in the kitchen and household.
2. Makeup Remover
Save money by using coconut oil to remove your makeup, safely and naturally. It won’t hurt or sting your eyes, but it might make things foggy for a moment…so try not to get it in your eyes.
3. Hair Mask
Not only is coconut oil intensely moisturizing, making it an excellent hair mask, experimental research indicates its antifungal action can be beneficial to the scalp, too.
Coconut oil makes a simple and flavorful equal parts substitute for butter or seed oils in your favorite baking recipes.
5. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil and swishing it around in your mouth for approximately 15 minutes (start with 5 minutes and work your way up) first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. It’s purported to draw out toxins and support your overall health.
6. Household Cleaner
Mix coconut oil with baking soda to create an effective natural cleaning agent to scrub away scum and mildew in the shower and tub.
7. Stain and Stick Preventive
Applying a thin coating of coconut oil to sinks, litter boxes, and Tupperware can prevent staining and sticking.
8. Squeaky Hinge Solution
Remove the pin in the center of the hinges, clean and grease with coconut oil, and slide the pin back in.
9. Insect Repellant
Just in time for summer, use coconut oil to make DIY natural insect repellant. Use coconut oil as the carrier oil and add several drops of an insect-repelling essential oil, such as citronella, to the mix.
10. Luxurious Bath Soak
Use coconut oil to create a luxurious, moisturizing bath soak. Make it a therapeutic experience by combining it with Epsom salts to soothe sore or achy muscles!
Hopefully, these diet and household applications of coconut oil will make it an indispensable part of your life. There are many reasons to go nuts over coconut oil!
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