Prairie Post

Coconut Oil: what’s all the fuss about?

I had often wondered why everywhere you look people are constantly talking about or promoting coconut oil. I knew it had many health benefits, but I did not truly understand all the amazing things coconut oil can do for you. This is an overview of my research and many reasons why this delicious oil is a must in almost every diet:

Coconut oil is an edible product extracted from the meat, also known as the kernel, of mature coconuts. This superfood, meaning it is nutrient rich and is considered to be exceptionally good for your health and well-being, is excellent for your body, inside and out. From fat burning and skin care to its bacterial killing properties, coconut oil appears to do it all.

Coconut oil works like this: it is made up of nearly 90 per cent saturated fats. But this is not your typical saturated fat. They are called Medium Chain Triglycerides or MTCs, which are fatty acids that are medium in length. These MTCs are metabolized differently than normal saturated fats, which most commonly contain long-chain fatty acids. Because MTCs are metabolized differently, they go straight to your liver from the digestive tract, then are used quickly and turned into energy that can have a positive effect on brain function and your overall energy levels.

The most popular health benefits are: reduces hunger, increases your energy levels, and boosts your brain function. All three of these functions are shown to potentially lead to weight loss. This is pretty amazing for one product.

Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate coconut oil into your diet:

  1. add pure MTC oil into your morning smoothie
  2. blend virgin coconut oil into your coffee or tea
  3. use coconut oil as a replacement for other cooking oils, like olive oil, when sautéing vegetables
  4. melt coconut oil and stir it into your yogurt
  5. replace coconut oil for other fats when baking
  6. prepare eggs with coconut oil instead of butter
  7. pop popcorn in coconut oil
  8. spread coconut oil on toast instead of butter

Besides being great internally, coconut oil has many great benefits externally for the body. Coconut oil can be used to kill off bacteria or make many great homemade body products. Around 50 per cent of the fatty acids in coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid is known to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses. When used externally on skin infections, it can help prevent pathogen growth. Research shows that coconut oil can protect against skin and hair damage when directly applied to these areas.

Here is a list of non-food related uses for coconut oil:

  1. natural skin moisturizer
  2. help relieve heartburn or indigestion
  3. natural shaving cream or hair conditioner
  4. natural massage oil
  5. help sooth the itch of chicken pox
  6. natural topical cream for skin injuries or infections
  7. reduced frizzy hair with just a dab
  8. natural eye-makeup remover

On the flip side of all this positive information, I found research stating that coconut oil can be bad for your heart when consumed in large quantities. A large percentage of this oil comes from saturated fats, the artery-clogging fat. Thus, some research shows that people who suffer from heart disease should avoid this oil all together, along with a vast variety of other food items containing saturated fats.

Overall, coconut oil is like anything else in life, if you include it in moderation as a part of a well balanced diet you can receive all these great health benefits. If you consume mass amounts of coconut oil, you may feel some adverse affects. Consider exploring coconut oil more and including it in your life. I am looking forward to incorporating coconut oil into my diet on a regular basis and I cannot wait to see the positive outcomes.

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Melissa Hryb is the chef at Marion Street Eatery, where she specializes in hearty comfort food with a twist.

Follow her on Twitter @MarionStreetEat or Instagram @MarionStreetEatery