Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coconut - Health benefits finally exposed?

While doing research on healthy fats and oils, I found several articles and Web sites praising the health benefits of coconut; especially coconut oil and how it can do wonders for your body and your health.

This article will share with you what I learned on coconut oil and why and how I decided to include it in my diet.

Coconut oil - history recap

Coconut is mainly found in tropic and sub tropic areas and produced in bigger quantify in countries such as Philippine, Vietnam, India etc. Coconut oil was consumed in bigger quantity in US a few decades ago (along with butter, animal fat etc.) but then got bad press due to its high saturated fat content, which has been linked generally as bad for your heart and arteries. Such bad press did trigger people to switch to other available cooking oils such as vegetable unsaturated  oils (corn, sunflower, canola, olive etc.).

Coconut oil saturated fat - valid concern or not?

Coconut oil is quite high in saturated fat (90%+ of fat content is saturated) which was (still is) originally a source of health concern. However, recent research has demonstrated that not all saturated fat have a negative effect on your cholesterol level (bad cholesterol). Recent researches has in fact shown that coconut oil can actually increase your "good" cholesterol level and reduce level of "bad" cholesterol.

If you are like me and learning all this for the first time then I'm sure that you will be confused given the different and conflicting sources of information that are available to us out there.

Raw virgin coconut oil is what appears to be healthy since it is composed mainly of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are easily digested and absorbed by our digestive system.
This oil is also very stable at high temperature which makes it a perfect candidate for cooking vs. other polyunsaturated oil which are unstable under heat and can trigger increased inflammation in your body.

Health benefits summary

The list of health benefits is quite impressive and explained by the various fat & acid compounds found in coconut oil including poly-phenols, vitamin E, K and iron.
  •            Improved and increased metabolism (can help achieve your weight loss goals)
  •            Good for your heart due to positive impact on your cholesterol and arteries
  •          Very stable and healthy oil for cooking (reduced inflammatory risk)
  •         The saturated fat may have some anti microbial properties. Its various acid compounds may also help improve your immune system
  •            Can also help your hair and skin

Virgin coconut oil - my experience

I purchased this week my first bottle of virgin coconut oil. My goal right now is to use it mainly as a replacement for my other vegetable oils and monitor the effect on my body

As you can see, the composition of coconut oil is solid which is normal since its melting temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

My first impressions:
  •           Delicate and pleasant taste (quite tasty when used on bread instead of butter)
  •            So far works great for cooking of any meat, vegetables, eggs etc.
  •            I did notice a mild  increased blood flow effect after eating a bigger quantity (1 tablespoon) which may be due to its increased metabolism effect
I will keep you posted on my future observations.
Please feel free to post any comment or share your experience with coconut oil.


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