• 27 MAY 14
    • 0
    Coconut Oil: Nutritional Hero

    Coconut Oil: Nutritional Hero

    Back in the early 1990s saturated fats became the demon of the nutritional world. In a frenzy of fear about cholesterol and clogged arteries, coconut oil became the poster child for all that was wrong with the American diet as food manufacturers jumped onto the low fat bandwagon replacing the all natural fat with chemical concoctions like Olestra.

    However researchers almost buried an amazing healthful cooking oil by lumping virgin coconut oil in with its partially hydrogenated sister. The hydrogenation process zaps coconut oil of most of its health benefits like rich antioxidants and essential fatty acids and also cranks up the trans fat counts. While virgin coconut oil does contain high levels of saturated fat, nutritionists have taken a second look at the impact of saturated fat on health benchmarks like cholesterol. Certain saturated fats, like the lauric acid in coconut oil, actually act to stimulate HDL (good cholesterol) levels as well as LDL (bad cholesterol) keeping healthful ratio between the two.

    Coconut oil proponents claim it as a dietary panacea for any number of ailments claiming anti-microbial properties that may improve anything from gut health to acne. Supporters of the oil also merit it with increasing metabolism, balancing blood sugar levels, and thyroid function. Some studies have shown that a daily dose of the oil helps break down abdominal fats. As coconut oil has only recently regained the interest in the American diet, more scientific testing is needed to support most of these claims. However moderate use of coconut oil holds little to no health risk, making it an attractive nutritional option to try for those who struggle with weight management issues and associated ailments.

    In recent years as both veganism, as well as caveman, diets gain traction in the Sacramento area, coconut oil enjoys new popularity in healthful cooking. The natural oil offers healthy fat alternative to overly processed vegetable oils and animal fats. The oil is peculiar in that it holds solid form at room temperature, allowing it to be scooped and fluffed like butter, but melts down into a familiar oil consistency when any heat is applied. This versatility makes it perfect for both baking and cooking meats and vegetables.

    The strength of the coconut flavor varies from brand to brand, but rarely overpowers the other ingredients in a dish. Instead coconut oil offers a light nutty undertone that enhances the depth and richness of most recipes from simple scrambled eggs to baked chicken. The richness of coconut oil helps meals feel more filling preventing overeating and snacking. The satiating nature of coconut oil is what has made it a staple of primal diets, allowing dieters to experience fullness without the bulk of grains and bread.

    Not limited to the kitchen, coconut oil works well for the whole body. The natural oil works well to naturally moisturize skin. The thick room temperature texture quickly melts into a silky oil when applied to body heat. The oil absorbs into skin creating softer, more hydrated skin. While store bought moisturizers often contain evaporating agents like alcohol and lanolins, this oil naturally absorbs into the epidermis to moisturize skin cells.

    While coconut oil might not cure all health woes, the incorporation of virgin coconut oil into the diet offers not only a healthful alternative to processed cooking oils it also offers a delicious kitchen secret to make your balanced home cooked meals flavorful and filling. While it still carries some of its bad fat stigma, coconut oil continues to gain its way back into good graces by offering its users natural health benefits, kitchen versatility, and even skincare solutions. Far from being the demon nutritionists once claimed, virgin coconut oil instead looks to be the best friend of those looking for a natural solution for managing weight and maintaining good health.

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